It seems everywhere we have gone for the last week, people have asked me or my kids what they are going to dress up as for Halloween. “We’re taking a break from celebrating this year,” I typically reply. People are flustered and don’t know what to say. It’s similar to when I tell them that Santa Clause doesn’t come to our house. It’s like I just shot the Easter Bunny or something.
Halloween is here, and at our house we are taking a break. It falls on a Wednesday and that means dance class and youth group at church, neither of which I’m willing to miss for trick-or-treating. Plus there is no room in the no-life budget for costumes, which can get expensive when you have four kids. I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween, and every year it’s a conflict of the conscious for me because I know too much about it’s history to think it’s all fun and games. Each year as we trapse in costumes through the neighborhood I remember that the tradition began as a way of warding off evil spirits. If you were disguised, they wouldn’t recognize you. But now it’s just a good way to meet your neighbors. As I have read where the holiday came from, none of it reflects any of my personal beliefs.
I’m saddened each year that Halloween is the second largest holiday in our culture, second only to Christmas. The holiday celebrates death and evil covered with candy. It’s a time when we purposely try to scare our kids. But I don’t want to teach my kids to ignore their fears. I want them to pay attention when they are afraid of something. It could be that instinct that keeps them safe. When I was explaining to my kids that we were taking a break, I told them that Halloween celebrates everything that is dark. We are children of the light, and we don’t need to celebrate darkness. I want to teach my children that Christians aren’t supposed to fit in to the culture. We are supposed to be different, and some things we just don’t do, even if everyone else is. I want them to see that our beliefs should guide every aspect of life, including which holidays we celebrate.
I know that there are all sorts of ways of “redeeming” the holiday, but I’m beginning to doubt that a holiday birthed in pagan traditions and celebrated in Satanic cults can be redeemed. Most Christian families don’t allow their kids to wear scary or gory costumes, but with a pre-teen son, I’m afraid that will get harder to enforce. I’ve said for years that it’s a way to get to know my neighbors because it’s the only night of the year where it’s perfectly acceptable to knock on someone’s door and say hello. But after doing it for five years, I can’t really tell you that I know my neighbors any better. Like many Christians, I’ve tried to acknowledge the holiday, but not celebrate too much.
Each year I cave in to the cultural norms and the fear of that look in my kids’ eyes when I tell them we aren’t celebrating. But I did it this year and maybe it will grant me courage for next year. If you celebrate Halloween at your house, have a great night! If you are like me and would like to have a reason not to, then maybe I’ve given you some reasons. If you don’t celebrate Halloween, thank you for helping me not feel like such a weirdo this year.