I’m so excited to share this guest post with you. I met LeighAnn when I was a part of a church-planting team in Florida. She is a mom to three and a strong woman of God. Plus she’s cute and funny! She blogs at Devoted Living.
In the fall of 1975, my parents agreed that it was time for our family to bow out of Halloween. I was so young when they changed policies that I do not remember trick or treating the previous year. I do remember a few awkward October 31st s when the doorbell was ringing, and we were hiding inside our house. There was the disastrous year that we passed out candy and Christian pamphlets together. That effort only annoyed and offended our neighbors.
Mom and Dad knew that, for our family, we should skip Halloween altogether. The challenge was: what to say to people without sounding judgmental. Non-Christians thought we were weird about everything so this seemed no different. But for some reason, Christian families that did celebrate Halloween were mad at my parents. They seemed to have an unreasonable anger that we wanted to avoid the events of that holiday. Why couldn’t they let our family just do what we felt led to do?
There was this dread over us each year, wanting October to come and go without a confrontation with anyone. As a kid, I didn’t know what to say when other adults and teachers tried to convince me that my parents were depriving us of this innocent kids’ holiday.
For several years, we felt alone in the stand against Halloween. School was the hardest part of the season. My mom was a teacher and decided that it was best to let our teachers know that we didn’t celebrate at home, but that we could participate in school activities and needed no special treatment.
My older brother recalls how hard it was that our neighbors were all outside on Halloween night, and we had to stay inside. One year we were particularly discouraged about not going trick or treating and hauling in assorted candy. After school, we slumped onto the sofa. Dad came in with several big bags of candy and spread them out on the coffee table in front of us.
“What is this?” we asked. His answer has stuck with me ever since.
“This is not about candy. We will buy you plenty of candy. This is about our family obeying God. Your mom and I both agree that it is best for us to not celebrate Halloween.”
In that moment, I finally understood that we were not being punished; we were being protected. Our parents had always been strict about not enticing us with evil in movies and books, so Halloween was just not acceptable. Recently a friend shared with me that she can still see images of horror movies that she watched as a teen. These scenes pop into her mind at unwanted times. I was protected as a child, and I am so grateful for it. I have to fight sin in my own life. I don’t need any extra evil added to my load.
WHAT WE DO. My husband and I and our three kids do not “do” Halloween. In 11 years of parenting, we have approached this in several ways depending on the age of our kids. We have tried church fall festivals, but we felt like we were enjoying G rated Halloween. It took a few years to get a routine that works for our family. It’s really about consistency for me and that is not simple, because Halloween lasts for several months and is everywhere we go. When a funny character offers them candy at Sea World, we say ok. Do we dress up specifically to trick or treat at Sea World? Well, no.
My seasonal survival methods include the following: 1. watching DVDs and taping TV shows ahead so that they are not watching Halloween ads on Disney Channel for the entire month of October. 2. avoiding stores that are overly decked in mummies and skeletons. 3. finding an activity for October 31st that gives the kids something to look forward to and gets us out of the house.
Recently, I decided to reclaim fall as a fun time of year for our family. We can focus on things that are good. The weather is nicer, and we want to be outside more.
We also plan our October 31 activity each year and include other families who are opting out as well.
Mini golf has been a hit the past few years. We try to pick a place that they haven’t visited in a while so that we all look forward to it. We snack on our favorite candy and enjoy spending time together as a family. We have redeemed the day, but it is still an effort to stay upbeat and not get discouraged by the volume of creepy creatures all in the name of innocent fun.
WHAT WE SAY. Is the fight worth it? Is this a worthy cause? It would be so easy to just go along with a safer version of this holiday, but I know I can’t. I know that we need to “avoid it all.” We are planting seeds now for a harvest in their lives as they grow in the Lord. We are keeping weeds out of the garden by not participating.
If you are looking for courage to opt out of Halloween, I hope to offer that here. Even with no memories of trick or treating, I am fine. I have no pictures of me in Halloween costumes- as cute as I would have been. I do not have regrets about missing Halloween as a kid.
The younger your kids are when you establish new traditions, the easier it is. Have your answers ready for your kids with details and verses. Tell them why you are uncomfortable with Halloween and be honest that you are praying for guidance about the best way for your family to spend that day each year.
And, most importantly, have your one liner ready for strangers. When the sweet dental hygienist asks every year, “What are the kids going to be for Halloween?” It’s now easy for me to gently say: “we don’t do Halloween.”