Proverbial Elephant: Missing Halloween Pictures

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Overtly missing in the line up of blog posts throughout blog land this week, you will not find my boys in Halloween costumes. We didn't and haven't celebrated Halloween as a holiday.

When Isaac was 6 months old, I wrote these posts about putting him in a costume. If I'm honest with myself, these pictures of Isaac as the Pokey Puppy might be my most favorite of his first year.

Last year I posted about our decision to be a Santa Free Family [2nd post] and an anonymous blogger threw the costume pictures in my face when I said that we also did not observe Halloween. It's left a very sour taste in my mouth both about the pictures and having to defend our choices as a family.

To extrapolate, I did not go trick or treating, ever growing up. Not a single time. Every few years we would attend a church event put on as a Halloween alternative and I was always an angel. It was just easy for my Mom, because we already had it due to a Christmas pageant.

Tony however did go trick or treating in his neighborhood or over to his grandparents.

As person who is able to make decisions, change my mind and continually educate myself, I have major issues with Halloween.

Biblically there is much to be said that would support refusing to celebrate Halloween. Inherently Halloween has a major focus on fear, darkness, monsters, the occult and violence. I doubt anyone would agree that these types of things should be exposed to very impressionable children or even ourselves. Paul said that Christians should "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." [Ephesians 5:11] He also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 that we are to "Keep away from every kind of evil."

Halloween is a holiday that glorifies that which is dark, that which is diabolical. Don't even get me started on that stupid Grimm tv show. It unsettles my spirit every time a commercial comes on NBC. Now I know some people just love a good horror movie or live for the scare, but that's not me. I can become physically ill around spiritually unsettling ideas, movies, pictures or commercials. The Bible tells us that we have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ [1 Peter 2:9]. Jesus wants to lift us above the darkness and wickedness of this world 'John 17: 14-15]. How are we to let our lights shine [Matthew 5:14-16] if we are relishing in a custom that promotes darkness? "And what communion does light have with darkness?" [2 Corinthians 6:14]. Our delight and meditation should be on that which is pure, lovely and virtuous [Philippians 4:8].

And these are all the reasons I understood growing up, why we did not go trick or treating. To be honest, even as a teenager, when friends tried to get me to go trick or treating with them, as the late crew swinging by without a costume after the 9:00 hour, I still wouldn't go. It'd be safe to say that I actually felt like trick or treating was a sin itself, even though I know it's not. Sure I was jealous of my stepbrothers' bags of candy, but it also strengthened my faith discipline by forcing me to make hard decisions when it would have been so much easier to just go with the crowd.

Aside from the one anonymous commenter about Isaac as the Pokey Puppy, I was good with the above. To be clear, I don't believe that there's anything evil about the giving or receiving of candy or the sweet little ones dressed up as super heroes, adorable little animals or whatever the choice may be! I don't judge Christian friends who choose differently than us, it was just that Tony and I were at peace with our choice not to celebrate Halloween.

There was one small problem though, last fall our Pastor dropped a bombshell: he and his family did celebrate Halloween. Our pastor, the guy who's supposed to be the holiest holier than thouer, admitting that he celebrates a holiday that I avoid like the plague.

Although I didn't take notes on his position on the subject, here's why, and ultimately, the cause for my indecision positively shared via Joy in this Journey's recent post.

"The Bible calls us to have a much different attitude toward society.

Instead of burying our heads in the sand and plugging our ears, we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).

Instead of turning our backs on what’s going on in society, we are to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

Salt cannot have a seasoning effect if it is left in the cupboard. It must come in contact with blandness before its saltiness can be realized.

Then there are all the biblical commands to show hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9).

By holing up in our house, we were sending an unspoken message “not welcome” to our closest neighbors, many of whom we had never met — and many of whom probably didn’t know Christ.
We often think of hospitality as entertaining friends in our home for a meal. But the true definition of hospitality differs on three levels.

First, hospitality doesn’t necessarily involve an invitation.

Secondly, hospitality is extended to strangers, not friends.

And thirdly, hospitality isn’t limited to your home.

If you want to get really technical, hospitality is making an uninvited stranger feel welcome in the space where God has placed you, no matter where that is. It can mean welcoming a stranger into your office at work. It can mean extending a warm greeting to a new face at church. It can mean putting your briefcase in your lap on the bus so someone can sit next to you. There are hundreds of other examples.

Halloween is a magnificent opportunity to show the love of Christ to strangers, which moves us much closer to the true definition of hospitality. Sure, these passing strangers are dressed funny and are lugging candy-filled pillow cases. But consider that no other 2-hour window during the year affords us such an obvious opportunity to reflect the glory of Christ to our community.

Each year has been a little different. Sometimes we hand out candy, some years we have also included an invitation card to our church, lately very few kids come to our house but we go door-to-door with our kids and get to know more of our neighbors. We practice manners, saying “please” and “thank you,” and we try to build on relationships. It is subtle. Our job is to love without condition. God will grant the fruit in His providence."

I wrote this post, not to be convinced one way is right over the other, but to open a dialogue and again make parents take pause and analyze the rationale for their decisions. God has called us to do that much at least. And so, with prayer, I don't know what we will choose next year, but there is a lot of food for thought!


mrsoz said...

I've been reading your blog for some time (I don't even remember how I found it), and I remember last year's Halloween post and the flurry of comments it created. I've never commented before, but wanted to say that Halloween is a great time to meet the neighbors! :) I don't agree with Halloween. At all. I've known 2 people who were killed on Halloween - one who was gruesomely (spelling??) murdered - and a third Halloween was spent at a funeral of a 12 year old. So the constant focus on death is very unsettling to me. I'd be thrilled if the holiday was cancelled entirely. However, all of that being said, this year we dressed up our 18 month daughter and took her trick-or-treating. And we met SO many of our neighbors! We've lived here 6 years, and this was the first time we had an excuse to go door-to-door and introduce ourselves. While I'll never agree with the holiday (and my children will not be allowed to wear horror-type costumes), I think Halloween is a great form of hospitality, as you mentioned in your post. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, just wanted to add my 2 cents. :)

leah @maritalbless said...

Thank you so much for sharing mrsoz! I appreciate that you aren't writing it to convince me, but sharing the positives as a reluctant participant.

I'm really not trying to be convinced one way or the other, but would love to hear more stories like your own!

Emily said...

Every family has to choose what's right for them, so good job to you for doing that. I did go back and read you Happy Costume Day! post and don't really see the difference between what you wrote there and what we (and most families we know) think of Halloween as. We do and will continue to celebrate Halloween - it's about having fun, dressing up in cute costumes and getting out into the neighborhood with all of our neighbors and friends for us.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Leah. I loved reading the reasoning to both sides of the Halloween issue.

Personally, I'm not big on Halloween. We always dressed up as kids, but we would go to our church's "fall festival" rather than trick or treating. We did dress Isaac up last year just cause I think it's cute, but we didn't trick or treat. This year, though, we had a block party, sponsored by our church, at our house and it was awesome!! Like the second part of your post talked about, it was an amazing way to show hospitality and invite ppl to our church in a non- confrontational kind of way. We plan on doing it again next year because it went SO well and we felt like it was a great balance of being in the world, but not of the world. ;)

Megan said...

This year was the first year I have ever (EVER!) trick or treated... as you know we were never allowed to growing up either, and my parents even took us out of school during Halloween week because of the parties.

We go back and forth about it each year as well, and have decided to make it nothing more than a night of dressing up for the kids. We will never "CELEBRATE" Halloween, but we did dress them up and took them to a few neighbors homes this year. Nothing big at all, but it was fun.

I've decided everything is what you make of it, you know? We feel like we found a good balance in having fun, but not doing it the worldly way either, if that makes sense?

Definitely not trying to change your mind at all, and I completely get what you're saying! It's admirable and I appreciate it. :)


Unknown said...

I agree with everything you said in this post and it really did make me think. But for me and my family I think it's all about having fun with Halloween and dressing up. Although I wish I could be as strong as you guys and not do it at all. As well as celebrate with Santa Clause. My husband and I are thinking about not doing the Santa thing this year bc it teaches the wrong thing! We want our kids to grow up knowing the Real meaning of Christmas.
But like you were talking about with all the tv shows out there about dark or scary things, take a look at shrek or seseame street. Just this week I was wondering where Maxx was gettting the word Shut Up and it was from Shrek. Donkey says it to shrek... so right there it teaching them to back talk. Also with Seseame street, they have the fairy school where they teach Magic. Right then and there I shut off both programs. It looks like we can only watch Veggie Tales to make sure it's all safe for him to watch. So sad but true.
Overall, Leah I think we should all digest what you had to say and really sit and think about what we are doing! You have many words to the wise and I appreaciate this post!
Love ya.

Sarah (Mrs. Ruffled Flats) said...

Leah, thank you so much for this post. I have never thought about Halloween in a Biblical way, which I should as a Christian - I should think of everything that way. You opened my eyes to a position on Halloween I had never thought about before. I always celebrated Halloween, but I have never thought of it as a gruesome, gory, dark holiday, although I know people who do. I've just dressed up and gone trick or treating. I'm going to talk to San about this and see what he thinks. Now I don't know what I think!

Bree said...

I've never really liked Halloween, either. We passed out candy this year to our little neighbors (we have a lot of toddlers that are just so cute) and it's a nice way to see everyone in the fall. I am sure we will continue to hand out candy and dress up our little ones in cute costumes - but not scary ones. I know I won't be promoting scary things to them, because I hate that stuff myself.

I have been saying that I am a Halloween "grinch" but maybe subconsciously it's because it strikes a deeper cord with my faith and has never seemed right to celebrate. I hate scary movies, scary costumes, scary decor, and I don't own any Halloween decorations.

I find it fitting that my in laws and mother (who are very deeply rooted in their faith) also don't like Halloween. Thanks for the post. Definitely gives me something to think deeper on.

Unknown said...

Leah, we're definitely on the same page in thought, but not in action. I, personally get a unsettled feeling regarding Halloween. Like the first commenter, I can't help but associate it with death because of something that happened a few years ago. A couple of days after Halloween, a lady at work committed suicide by jumping off the top level of our parking garage [during work hours]. The whole thing shook me to my core [especially since I looked out the window and saw that creepy yellow tarp] and I had serious problems for a couple of weeks. When Jim worked, I had to stay over at my parents and I absolutely refused to walk through that parking garage alone. People might say I'm crazy but I believe during Halloween our society "allows" those dark entities into world and scary, disturbing things happen.

I'll never decorate for Halloween or allow Eli to dress up in a gruesome costume but we will still do trick or treating. I guess I don't feel convicted to the point where we won't partake in that ritual.

Oh, and like you I was really shocked when I heard our pastor and his family celebrate Halloween. As bad as this sounds I guess that's what made me feel okay about taking Eli trick or treating too!

Jen said...

I think it's all perspective. I don't really ever think of Halloween in the dark grusome sense. For what it's worth, I have never seen a scary movie, been in a haunted house, or even watched a full episode of any of those crime shows. I look as it more of a celebration of fall and a chance for children to dress up fun. We were never allowed to wear scary/violent costumes. Mostly I ended up being my favorite book characters. It's also a really good time to discuss real vs. pretend with kids.

Katie said...

Great post! Your second to last paragraph is how I feel. I don't expose the boys to any of the "bad" of Halloween. To me, there is strength in numbers and if we only let the darkness out on that night, it will remain a dark night. We focus on dressing them up, getting candy and having a fun night with friends and neighbors. :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up celebrating Halloween. I think it's a great way to meet your neighbors definitely. Your words and wisdom were very interesting to read...I enjoyed reading how you feel about Halloween. Thank you for this post. : )

theresap said...

I really like how you state your position, but are clear to say that you wouldn't judge others. To each their own, and I really like your ideas on hospitality! I take my kids trick-or-treating on Halloween, we dress up, get all of our neighbors together, make a huge dinner and sit ouside in front of the bonfire and eat, talk, and have a BLAST! This year we ended up with complete strangers and their kids in our living room, playing, talking and having so much fun. We look forward to it every year and it's just another day to have fun in the company of Christ and great people :) I don't see Halloween as anything scary or evil, but if you have a different connotation attached to it, then good for you avoiding it!

themurrayfamily said...

Growing up we were always taught that Halloween was a night to celebrate those who went before us. It was a celebration of life to prepare for the following day, All Saints Day. (I grew up, and still am, Catholic) My parents best explained the holiday to us as a time to honor our family and friends who were already with Jesus. Early on we did dress as saints. I celebrate Halloween in a way that we attend church on that day and receive blessings for our children. We do trick or treat and this year my girls did dress as silly characters. However, my husband and I spent time talking with our two year old about who she wanted to be and why that character was "good". She chose Jessie, from Toy Story, b/c "she's nice to the toys and always helps" from the 2yo mouth. At this point my girls don't dress as saints. We will do that when they are older and have a better understanding of the sacrifice many of these individuals made for us. I am sorry I wrote so much. I completely see what you are saying and the awesome-ness of what you are teaching your children.

jen @ homeinthecountry said...

I think it's so awesome that you are constantly re-evaluating your decisions for your family. It's great that you are so thoughtful about these things!

I'm not overly into the creepiness of Halloween... The silly costumes and candy and meeting of neighbors is pretty great, though! :)

Meredith said...

When I asked about Halloween for my BQOTD, I was surprised how many people responded "No, we don't celebrate Halloween--we just dress up and go Trick or Treating." To me, that WAS how we always celebrated Halloween growing up, and I couldn't figure out why people would think doing those things wasn't celebrating Halloween.

But, I think what most people were probably getting at was that they focus on pumpkins, leaves, playing dress up, and enjoying some candy more than monsters, vampires, scaring people, playing pranks, and blood.

I think it's okay for there to be different ways for celebrating Halloween, and I think it's possible (with some conversation as kiddos get older) to participate in the holiday without actually glorifying the diabolical.

But that's just me--like I said, growing up, I didn't know anyone who didn't celebrate Halloween. And then marrying Justin, knowing that his dad was/is a pastor and that they always celebrated it, it just didn't occur to me to really think about reasons why we should or shouldn't celebrate...

L.C.C. said...

These are the exact sides of the debate that I ponder. Next year I'm going to try to find the middle-ground :)

Jennie said...

Thank you so much for this post! Both my husband and I "celebrated" Halloween as kids. However, now that I have a child of my own I really need to re-evaluate the impact that scary images will have on my child. I really didn't see that point-of-view before reading your post.

As parents, we know that our purpose is to advance His Kingdom. Because of that we need to seriously evaluate whether our celebrating Halloween - or moreover - the way that we observe Halloween is allowing God to do His work in us and in our child.

Anonymous said...

So interesting that you quoted Romans 12 as this was my church's scripture reading today! (Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.) I think that your post's message of opening yourself up to interacting with others who have different viewpoints and customs/behaviors is a very Christian idea that has lost popularity in recent years. (In other words, show Christian love to sinners but not sins.) I am saddened by how polarized and isolating our society has become, and would like to see more openness in all directions. (Including openness to people such as yourself who regard the holiday as a sin!) Thank you for sharing! (And for doing so eloquently rather than rambling as I've done in this post.)

Rebecca said...

I can't remember if I commented on your Santa post, but that post and this one could have been written by my mother (I mean that as a compliment). We didn't grow up leaving cookies for Santa or trick or treating, and I plan on raising my children the same way.

Karen said...


Your post touches home for me as I for the most part didn't grow up celebrating Halloween. We were taught about the evils attached to the holiday and I've tried desparately to show my husband that there are bad things with Halloween but he wasn't raised the same I was.

This year we took our 2 year old to a neighbor we neighbor house we know then off to the grandparents and that was it. He was a little construction worker. There will be no scary costumes in this house.

Thanks for posting truth on this subject that is so often ignored by society.

mommyhood said...

Thank you for sharing; I enjoy reading your blog.
The questions of holidays; what to celebrate- how to celebrate/recognize and what the Bible tells us is certainly something that has taken on more meaning as a new mother. Our son is 21 months so we are putting even more thought in to the holidays this year.
Finding support from other Christian Moms is always helpful.

Will said...

I love that you state your opinion and are just saying it is what is right for your home. So many times debates try to change ppl's minds.
My only challenge would be, why dress up? Isn't that still embracing some of the holiday? I know churches usually have a "fall gathering" but how is that really different than the mainstream holiday or going door to door in costume? If your kid is still getting candy and dressing up....just seems like it would be confusing to them how one is really different from the other.


Blog Design by Nudge Media Design | Powered by Blogger