It’s Halloween, and I’m Confused

*Sigh* It’s Halloween, and I’m confused. Maybe conflicted would be a better word.

On the one hand: It’s Halloween and I want to belong. It’s the one day of the year when our neighbors open their doors to us, and knock on our door in return. It’s our annual opportunity to pound the pavement with our community: to admire cute littles, to exchange names and pleasantries.

I’m all about chocolate, and believe me – I’m all about dress-up.

A very pregnant Halloween. And yes, that's body paint.

Yes, that is body paint. I LOVE imagination, fancy dress, and I love community. I don’t want our kids to be the ones who say “sorry, we don’t do that”, or to skip a day of school in protest. In general, I’m one who looks for opportunities to engage with people and culture: to do so with love, grace and wisdom. But I’m a little lacking on wisdom on this one.

Because for all that I want us to use this opportunity to connect with our community, Halloween is also something I really don’t want to belong to. The decorations are grizzly: bats, witches, spiders webs, zombies and graveyards. Blood, slime and skeletons. They ALL fail the Philippians 4:8 test of things that are lovely, admirable, excellent, honorable and praiseworthy.

More than just unpleasant and unlovely, the themes are downright terrifying. My children are not yet at the age where they want to go to Halloween parties where the threat of horror movies looms large, but already they think Finding Nemo is scary because the kid loses his mother and then gets chased by a shark. Just a casual walk down our street trick-or-treating with the neighbors brings us across all sorts of decorative horrors, and I am not ready to talk explain zombies and ghosts with them. It’s awful. Truly, awful. That which is make-believe about Halloween is creativity designed to frighten, that which is true about Halloween is a realm of spirituality I’m deeply wary of. Satan and his minions are real and I don’t want to mess with that by making evil “approachable”.

So what to do? What to do? Can we accept the good without the bad? Is there a way of engaging positively and redemptively with this most awful of celebrations and escaping its evils?

In principal, the answer should be yes. After all, we celebrate Christmas and choose to embrace the telling of the Christ-story and the joy of giving, while eschewing the pagan solstice background and also hoping our children will miss the lethal spiritual lessons of materialism and greed which underlie our Western celebration of the day.

We celebrate Valentines day and choose to celebrate friendship and love, while distancing ourselves from the lies about romantic love which “completes us” and averting our eyes from the love=sex undertones which pervade so much of the adult Valentines day mania.

If we think that the materialism of Christmas or the erotica of Valentines Day are any less dangerous to our souls, perhaps we’re underestimating their power.

But all that being said – I’m still not sure about Halloween. I’m not sure what to think about it, and not sure what to do about it. Do we withdraw? Do we engage, but with all our conservative “I’m here but I’m not really loving it” vibes escorting us down the road? Do we seek to engage fully with our own Christian version of the themes: “Boo! Jesus loves you!”, or “There will be a day of the dead! And on that day, Jesus will rescue those who belong to him! Happy Halloween, and don’t eat too much candy!” Do we dress our kids as Lazarus and hope that someone asks us to give a reason for the “hope we have” (1 Peter 3:15)? Do we carve redemptive pumpkins?

christian pumpkin

My children want the candy and the adventure. They want to be like their friends. One of them wants to dress up as a spider, the other as a mermaid. Part of me bristles at the thought of the spider (because, ew!) and adores the idea of the mermaid – but then again, God created spiders but did not create mermaids. So what is this Christian mama to do?

As I said: it’s Halloween and I’m confused.

This is the second-to-last post in the 31 Day writing challenge. I chose the topic of Belonging. To see what other random thoughts this topic has generated in my little brain, click here.

Photo credit: Marci Lapan on Pinterest