Skipping Halloween

I just don’t know what to do with Halloween.

As a kid, and a teenager, it was a fun time to dress up, visit the neighbors and take in all the candy we could eat while trick-or-treating. It was social and mostly innocent and hey, everybody did it, didn’t they?

Now I have kids. And they like to dress up. And they like chocolate and candy and doing what their friends do. And I like those things, too, for the most part.

But there’s this battle inside me. And I can’t ignore it.

Soon, I will have to choose.

My kids did not go trick-or-treating tonight. (They’re 3 1/2 and 2, so they’ll get over it.)

I have many reasons why they didn’t.

Selfish reasons, such as:

    • I’m tired and still getting back in the swing of things after being away all weekend.
    • There’s snow on the ground. Snow. In October.
    • My husband had class that started at 6:30. Trick-or-treating started at 6. Not a fan of walking through the neighborhood after dark by myself with two little ones.
    • I have enough trouble staying away from the sweets when they aren’t in the house. A bucket-load of chocolate would do in my weight-loss goals for sure.

And not so selfish ones.

Like what this writer, whom I respect and admire, experienced on Halloween one year and how she overcame it. I don’t want to live my life in fear, but I don’t want to celebrate fear or participate in it, either.

Or this bit of information about who suffers so I — and my kids — can enjoy chocolate anytime we want. Sickening. And thought-provoking. Once I know something, it’s hard to go back to the way life was before. Can I enjoy a piece of chocolate if I think about the hands that picked the beans?

Then, there’s the pressure, as a Christian, to shun Halloween because of the evil associated with it. Or the pressure to “redeem” it by giving kids positive, non-scary influences on Halloween. (Confession: I’ve handed out Bible verses with candy in previous years, mostly to justify participating in Halloween at all.)

One of my clearest memories of Halloween as a child was the time my brother, my best friend (a guy) and I went to a house with no outside lights on. I know, biggest  Halloween faux pas and definitely not on any safety list for Halloween. But the people who lived there were my grandparents’ age. I’d just met them — through my grandparents, maybe — and they lived sort of in our neighborhood. It was a whim. A whim I’d later regret. But we walked up to the door, rang the bell and received a kind-but-stern lecture on not ringing people’s doorbells on Halloween if their outside light wasn’t on and oh-by-the-way we don’t celebrate Halloween. I was horrified. Probably more than I would have been if they’d come to the door wearing grim reaper costumes or monster masks.

I don’t want to be those people. I don’t want to suck the life or joy out of anything.

What I do want is to be responsible. As a parent. As a citizen. As a Christian.

My son’s high fever, and subsequent ear infection diagnosis, made the decision not to trick-or-treat, easier tonight. I was relieved, really, that I had a legitimate excuse for not taking them out. In many ways, I’m a coward. I lack conviction. I want to care so deeply and passionately about things that people, even if they don’t agree with my decisions, can understand why I make the decisions I make.

I don’t want to be seen as a taker. As in, I’m taking fun out of my kids’ lives. On short notice, I tried to make up for that by making a special dinner — pumpkin soup with shrimp — and buying candy corn and Turkey Hill ice cream, which had chocolate in it. (Am I a hypocrite or what?) We watched a couple of Halloween kids’ shows on Netflix, which only prompted my daughter to ask when trick-or-treat is.

Sigh.

For now, I hope, this discussion and decision-making process is over. I have a year to gather information and make decisions and try some fair trade chocolate, if I can fit it into our food budget.

There’s a part of me that wants to get this “right.” But sometimes I don’t even know what “right” is. Is it “right” to be a Republican? Or a Democrat? Is it “right” to read Harry Potter novels or the Twilight series or The Hunger Games? Is it “right” to dismiss them as trash? Those are just a few of the other issues I wrestle with that are similar to the Halloween one for me.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” (Luke 11:42)

Reading these words of Jesus makes me wonder: Can I do what’s “right” and still be doing wrong?

Maybe I’m overthinking. I’ve been known to do that before. Maybe Halloween is no big deal. I mean, after all, the chocolate companies aren’t going to miss my kids’ absence in the trick-or-treating tradition. Nor will they miss my chocolate-buying if I change my habits. And are my kids going to hate me if I tell them they need to stay home when all their friends go trick-or-treating?

Parenting is hard. Parenting with conviction is harder.

I could go on, but I feel like I’d be creating more confusion and less progress toward an answer.

What are your thoughts? On Halloween, on decision-making, on convictions, on right and wrong?

Talk to me. I’m all ears.

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9 thoughts on “Skipping Halloween

  1. Everything you said is completely valid. And I think you did the right thing by not taking your kids out tonight. You’re right–they won’t miss it and it sounds like your situation, had you gone, was not ideal.

    I totally get what you say about fear and fair trade chocolate…

    But I see Halloween as an opportunity to be a good neighbor. We buy lots of candy, put lawn chairs at the end of the driveway and meet and spend the evening (our hours are 4-6) meeting and greeting our neighbors and their children. We walk over to neighbors homes, where they are sitting on their porches or lawns, and ask how they are doing. We are generous with the candy (we bought a bunch of candy necklaces for all of the girls dressed as princesses and butterflies and Reese Cups and Skittles for trick or treaters who might not wear necklaces).

    At church, our youth group throws a big party for church neighborhood kids on a Friday night (so parents can go out while the kids are with us). Candy, games, crafts, a lesson and “It’s the Great Pumpkin…” made it a hit this year.

    Now, I realize there might be other opportunities to do these types of things,but in our situation, Halloween has become a chance to be in the community.

  2. Right or wrong, there is little to life that I object, too..and I think mostly because I overly simplify things
    I figure Harry Potter is fictional just like If you Give a Mouse a Cookie is fictional. Both can be seen as crock, but both can aslo be used as a teaching tool. This summer I actually bought a Harry Potter book at a yard sale, just because I was shocked to find it at that certain yard sale—church folks I figured were very anti-Harry Potter. I mentioned it to them and then later apologized for my comment about being shocked to see it there. I also tend to think that with Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, etc…we Christians probably analyze the book more and make sure that what we are reading isn’t awful and totally unbiblical…..but do we do the same for the Christians book that we read or do we just take them at face value because they are Christian. I actually stopped reading most Christian fiction because I found myself upset that my life wasn’t that cut and dry and found myself mad at God that He would work in their life in such a way that He wasn’t working in mine. I was able to remember that Harry Potter was fictional—but couldn’t remember that the Christian Fiction books were just as fictional. I think it’s all in your heart–if you are reading and seeking God-through Harry Potter, Francine Rivers or Brown Bear Brown Bear…it doesn’t matter.

    Same with holidays. I know so many Christians who are quick to make sure that Halloween isn’t celebrated and that God is focused on that day, but come Christmas get so caught up in the presents and shopping and decorating that they forget to keep that holiday God focused. For me, I have to work much harder to make sure that Christmas stays God centered. Halloween–it’s a day for family, laughter and fun…..Christmas isn’t always that way.

    I guess long and short of it, I don’t think there is necessarily right or wrong as a whole. What’s right for me, won’t be right for you and what’s wrong for you wont’ be wrong for me (unless biblically clear-like killing, etc…). God convicts us based on our needs and how we need to grow individually.

    If you are convicted that Halloween isn’t right for your family–it’s not right for your family. But, if you decide that Halloween isn’t right for your family because God told the Smith’s that it’s not right…then not doing Halloween may be a bigger sumbling block (if that makes sense).

    There are some things that for our family aren’t right. We didn’t use birth control of any means for 9 years. It doesn’t make birth control wrong-it just wasn’t right for our family. We send our kids to public school because it’s what is right for our family. That was hard (and still is) for me to accept because I always knew Grace would be homeschooled. But, when faced with that decision, I know God wants here in public school and I have to follow through.

    So this was long winded and not sure if it even made sense–LOL. I also tend to think that just because one thing is right now doesn’t mean tomorrow it’ll still be right or just because something is wrong today will mean its wrong tomorrow. We have to continue to keep our hearts open and listen to God and not confuse other people’s convictions with what God is telling or not telling us

  3. First,
    I’m not a big Halloween person. I don’t get scaring yourself for fun. However, it worries me when someone uses “Christianity” as a reason not to celebrate it or a reason to ‘purify’ it. Halloween is not a specific holiday that is mainly celebrated by any ‘evil.’ It started as a Celtic holiday, just like Christmas. We still have a pine tree in most houses as Christians even though the origin of that is from the pagan festival of the winter solstice.
    Also, to say that the story about abuse made me angry and sad is a ridiculous understatement (surprise surprise). However, that didn’t happen because of Halloween that happened because our society identifies a person who seems like a grandfather or a mother as someone ‘safe.’ It’s because instead of figuring out who a person really is we judge by what they show the world and believe them. I could say a lot more about that (pretty sure that no one is surprised by that), but I’ll spare the world of that extremely emotional rambling.
    The idea of ‘fair trade’ chocolate makes more sense however if Halloween was something that was important to you you would find a way around it.
    I don’t believe that there is anything inherently good or bad about Halloween and everyone who says there is is selling something. I think that it’s a personal choice and really doesn’t matter if you make it something special…at least for now. I’m not sure if trick-or-treating is something I want to do ever either just because it’s a lot of work for a little pay off and if my genetics pass anxiety to our kids they may have a panic attack from that one house that gets sooo into halloween it’s meant to scare everyone. I’m at the stage where we can make the real decision when we get there and I think you still are too. I think that you don’t have to worry about the kids being upset about it for like 3 more years either and even then you could make some special ‘family tradition’ that could be as or even more special to your kids.

    Also, Harry Potter is always right 🙂 it talks about a lot of the same principles that are taught in the Bible and even echoes the idea of one choosing to die in order to save others as well as love being greater than hate and soooo much more. I’m biased, of course, but a large part of the reason that I AM biased is because the amount of positive lessons one learns in the series about how our choices effect us more than what happens to us and about the power of love. Twilight isn’t evil, but it’s also not appropriate for young girls b/c the main story is a female being so entranced by a male that she will change everything she is for him. I had to add that even though it was a total sidenote 🙂

  4. I certainly understand your struggle. And admire your honesty about it.

    When asked, my adult children don’t feel they missed anything at all by not trick-or-treating. We always had a good time and now they’re continuing the tradition by taking their kids to Chuck E. Cheese and not celebrating Halloween as well.

    My reasons for not participating in Halloween are so vast … but the main reason is that I didn’t want to send mixed messages to my kids. The “Don’t take candy from strangers” was a big one.

    Charlotte, I’m sorry my story made you angry. It was intended to prove the point — mixed messages can lead to tragic results. When you send your kids door-to-door to people you don’t know, or don’t know well, you expose them to potential dangers you couldn’t even imagine. That’s all. I just don’t see a whole lot of common sense there.

  5. I love Halloween. I do. I love Halloween and chocolate and Harry Potter. I love the Hunger Games too, actually. =)

    Here’s what I think–Halloween is a great time to hang out with your neighbors & show them that you like them by chatting a little, letting them see your adorable kids, giving them candy. It’s a great time for the kids to practice politeness & thankfulness. IMO, Christians tend to spend too much time boycotting things and not enough time being neighborly & showing others that we like them. Halloween is a great time for that.

    The story of abuse was awful. Seriously awful. But–Halloween can be a great time to teach your kids how to deal with strangers, when it is okay to talk to them and when it’s not. Trick or Treating is way different than spending time alone with a neighbor that you don’t know very well.

    About the chocolate article–I agree that we should try to spend our money responsibly. But doesn’t it seem practically impossible to research every single purchase and every single brand to make sure that the workers are getting paid a living wage? I don’t know…It’s just a little daunting. Plus–I would think that most people wouldn’t be able to afford that. You could make yourself go nuts with guilt, I think. I say–just do your best, and don’t worry if others buy your kids candy that isn’t fair trade.

  6. Oh, Hana–I didn’t see your comment before I posted. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It just breaks my heart. I’m so sorry that you had do go through that.

    One thing that I thought was great about the Trick or Treating–I didn’t see any children under the age of 14 or so who were unsupervised. I think that is something that has dramatically changed since I was a kid. At least around here–parents aren’t sending their kids out on Halloween–they are going with them.

    Also–the costumes are significantly less scary than they were when I was a kid. The schools around here have pretty strict rules about the scariness of the costumes at the school parties, and I’m guessing that since parents don’t want to buy 2 costumes for the kids, the trick or treating costumes aren’t that bad either.

  7. i Need a letter stating my rights as a christian to keep my children out of school for halloween because i dont what them to have to be subjected to halloween and all that comes with it and even too have children making fun of them because they dont participate halloween .

    • Pamela – I would simply write a letter that states “Due to personal objections, my children do not participate in Halloween. Since the school celebrates this religious holiday, I did not send them to school on Thursday.”

      I kept my kids out of school and we had fun every single year on Oct. 31st NOT participating in Halloween. Eventually, other kids started asking their moms if they could skip trick or treating to spend the evening with us because my kids truly loved our non-Halloweens!

  8. Oh, Pamela–that is interesting that you mentioned that. We recently moved to Texas and the schools in our area don’t celebrate Halloween. It surprised me a lot. No Halloween parties, songs, art projects or anything.

    I’m okay with Halloween, but we take our kids out of school for various other reasons & you could definitely call in and say that your kids won’t be attending that day. It might be an unexcused absence, but one unexcused absence in a year is not that big of a deal. If it’s important to you, you should do it.

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