Monday, November 1, 2010

The Halloween Conundrum

I did trick-or-treat once or twice in my childhood, it just wasn't a big deal.  I don't feel like I missed anything.  As an adult I'm turned off by the commercialism, the candy and the greed that permeates this holiday, BUT I can't deny the fact that it is the one holiday that really promotes community.  When else do you get to wander around your neighborhood, knocking on doors, and not one gets slammed in your face?  So... I've been struggling with whether or not to celebrate Halloween in our family for a few years, knowing that we could buy some time while our eldest was so young. My husband has no moral issue with it, leaving the decision up to me.  Yikes.  But this year I've finally reached a decision (I know you are all waiting with bated breath). 

The answer is "yes."

Now for the Why:

  1. Halloween builds community.  We live on a corner lot, across from a park, under a streetlight, in a very family-oriented neighborhood.  I knew there would be lots of kids out, tonight.  Every parent who came to the door with their kids now knows we live here.  They saw that we have two girls, our house isn't perfect, and we care.  They are learning to trust us.  If there is one thing that my husband and I feel called to do, it is build community where we live.  Love God, love people.  As a homeschooling family I don't want to be completely isolated (and we definitely are not) from the neighborhood kids and the world around us.
  2. My desire not to do Halloween was entirely too wrapped up in worrying what people think of me and confusing myself in the process.  Ok.  Maybe I was passing a little judgment, too, if I'm honest with myself.
  3. Jesus loved the un-lovables.  He probably would've hung out with that werewolf kid from down the street, too.  Not that he would have gorged on candy, but I like to think he would at least give something out at his door.
  4. We can hold our moral ground as a family and still have fun.  We know where we draw the line for our kids, and that's the only line we need to worry about.  The kids will be exposed to "scary" stuff.  That's life.  And honestly, I don't think Halloween is half as insidious as Christmas.  Don't hate me for saying that, I do LOVE Christmas.
I'm fairly certain we are all familiar with the "why-nots" of Halloween.  I just thought I'd share a little of my process in working through this tough topic.  You know what's best for your own family, right?

We limited our small kids to one community event and handing out candy at our door.  Our focus is definitely on fall and the changing of the seasons, and has always included pumpkins, pumpkin patch trips, leaf jumping and more.  I suppose each year will add more excitement, a line drawn a bit further down the road, and more discussion about the meaning of Halloween.  In the meantime, stay posted for my overly passionate dissertation on Block Parties!  Coming soon- hopefully next summer, straight to you from the lady who over-thinks everything.


Katie said...

Great post, Tori. We had some of the same discussions at our house this year, too. I never went trick or treating as a kid and, so far, neither have our kids. This year we had our regular special Reformation service at church so it wasn't an issue, but we had decided not to participate. My main 2 reasons are that our kids are highly sensitive to sugar/candy and we are trying really hard to avoid it (they know it, too, and are pretty good about saying "no" to things) and that the whole American greed thing is something we'd like our kids to learn to avoid. We're also changing some things about Christmas this year in regards to teaching that as well, starting with no commercial TV (even the 1/2 hour they watch is filled with ads about toys, etc.).

Anonymous said...

I'm not really clear on what you are struggling with in this decision. It is not too difficult to have Halloween be a fun holiday for kids. I don't see what is objectionable. A a kid I always loved dressing up and trick or treating. It really is a nice way to meet/see neighbors. Yes, as a parent you have to set limits on what is too scary or too much candy for young kids. But if you are a parent then you are constantly setting limits on all kinds of things.

I know there are some people who can't distinguish between pagans and "satanists." But I also know from your reference to "The Christians and the Pagans" song you are not one of them. Pagan Samhain (halloween) celebrations that I am familiar with include things like lighting a candle for loved ones who have died (especially in the last year), talking about the Persephone myth and eating pomegranate, and celebrating it as a new year. Also, most other general fall season fun can be included too. It's pretty tame, really. (I can't tell you much about "satanists" since I don't know any.)


Thru a Tori-lens said...

Katie- I get that- we don't watch any commercial t.v. at our house (we watch it all online or rent videos from the library). We do have a lot of control over how we choose to celebrate!

Thru a Tori-lens said...

Rachel- most Christians I know are pretty aware of the difference between the satanism and paganism. I think the discussion about Halloween lies more around the idea of "appearance of evil" and the scariness of the holiday for little kids as well as the commercialism/greed aspect. However- you're exposed to the scary stuff at the grocery store, so what are you gonna do? And greed is worse at Christmas, IMHO. I'm sure Pagan families have to weigh the pros and cons of Halloween as much as Christian ones do, and they have made choices about how to celebrate each holiday as it comes up, just as Christians do.
Besides- I have several Pagan friends who are pretty cool peeps. ;)

Marianne said...

Thanks for posting this! We had a beautiful experience with Halloween this year and reading yoru experience reaffirms our "new way" of doing things.