I realize that this is the basically the heart of Halloween, but I hate almost everything that surrounds us this time of year. I often feel like just hiding until it’s all over because nowhere is safe. Rent a movie and all you see is horror. The costume aisle in Walmart is just as terrifying. Even our local grocery store is selling horrible looking decorations. And if it’s not scary, then it’s sexy. Sometimes I don’t know what’s more horrifying – a zombie costume or a sexy witch costume for 5 year old girls.
I’m worse about it now that I have a daughter. I don’t want her to have the images of decapitated bodies, freaky ghosts, and so forth in her head. I find it fascinating the pressure of participating in Halloween now that she’s in our lives. Everyone asks what she’s going to dress up as or where she’s going to go trick and treating. (In case you don’t know, she’s 14 months old.)
It makes me cringe. I come from a family who didn’t celebrate Halloween. I never went trick or treating. Sometimes my parents would buy candy, and I would “get” to hand it out to the people who came to our door. I’ve teased my parents about that childhood scarring, but now I’m glad. It’s not like we sat at home with the lights off. We always did something fun. We made soft pretzels, a family tradition. We played games. One year we made our own seawater taffy. I mainly remember two things of that night. Everything, and I mean everything, was sticky, and I remember laughing a lot.
Perhaps one of the most horrifying and mortifying experiences of my entire life comes from Halloween. My Dad is a pastor, and he had just taken a church in a small town in the middle of South Dakota, right before Halloween. We were invited to a church “Harvest Party” on that night and were told to dress up. Eager to have some fun with the new church, my Mom, my sister, and I got a bit carried away with the costumes. I have no idea whose idea it was, but we found some black makeup paint and used it. Lots of it.
Sadly for us, the church decided not to have costumes, but no one thought to tell us that. We walked into the party, brand new to the church, with our black paint on. I still don’t know who was more shocked – us or them. The only thing I can remember about that moment was thinking my whole social life was over. And it was. It never recovered in the five years we lived there!
I know that my parents didn’t celebrate Halloween because they are sensitive to how we align ourselves as Christians. Seeing that many, if not all, Halloween traditions come from pagan and Druid beliefs, they had no wish to participate in such activities. As a Mom, I agree. I don’t see anything wrong with dressing up, but I don’t really want to celebrate something so dark with a dubious past.
Sometimes it feels like I’m the odd one when it comes to Halloween. As a nation, we spend over 5 billion dollars on it. It’s the second largest grossing holiday. Christmas is the first.
This isn’t one of those posts where I’m going to explain all the pagan traditions of Halloween. I’m not going to list Bible verse that extort you to be different from the world. If you want to research that, you will find a ton of information about the traditions of Halloween on the internet. It’s up to you decide what you want to celebrate and how much of it is right for your family.
Let me end with this thought. Two holidays loom large in our culture. Christmas and Halloween. One is very dark, filled with fear and horror. One is very light, filled with love and hope.
Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you hate the darkness, the evil, and the horror that surrounds us in this time. The darkness weighs you down and makes you want to hide. It’s too much, too heavy, too dark to fight.
Hold your head up high. This is just one night. The darkness and evil flees at the light. The end of the story hasn’t come yet. The night always runs when morning comes. Light wins. Love reigns over all, even over the horrors you have in your life. We can step out in boldness with no fear because there is One who loved us so much that He defeated the darkness when we could not do it ourselves. As a child of the Light, I recognize that darkness will come, evil will prowl and do its worse, but they will fail. One day, the dark will be no more. My King will destroy all evil forever.
As Halloween approaches, I pray you turn your thoughts away from the fear and evil and onto the love and hope of Christ.