Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Celebrate Halloween, Go to Hell

I'll admit. This post is long. But I threw in lots of pictures
in hopes that you'll read it!

Meet the Wicked Witch of the West:

Actually, it's just a card I created in preparation for
an October mommy-and-me craft with Sadia!

I love scrapbooking, and, by extension, I also enjoy creating cards. This is a 4x4 card, and it is really easy to make. Here is a list of materials used for the basic layout:

(1. dimensional Halloween stickers by K&Company)

(2. embossed stickers by K&Company)

(3. 12 X 12 focal pattern paper by Making Memories)

(4. 12 X 12 black scrapbook paper cut to 8 X 4 card base)

(and 3 essential scrapbook tools: paper cutter, adhesive 3D dots, and tape runner)

All of these materials can be found at your local Michaels Arts and Crafts store.

I plan to embark on this card-making project with Sadia as a way to bond with her. The goal is to cultivate a shared interest in card making through designing various Halloween-themed cards for her kindergarden class. Planning and prepping for this activity has really challenged me to take a position on a longstanding taboo in my family.

As my children get older, I'm having to make decisions that I didn't have to make before. The deliberation that I'm currently sitting on the fence about is: to Halloween or not to Halloween.

As a Christian, there always seemed to be a clear winner in this debate. Of course my verdict had been reached BC (that is, before kids). Actually, my choice was forged into the fiber of my faith from decades of entrenched Christian rhetoric. Now, admittedly, the "winning" argument is not so clear-cut, and I find myself deciding whether or not I should observe Halloween. Frankly, I'm undecided on the issue. What about you? Are you letting your kids celebrate Halloween?

Ellie Lofarao, who authors a blog called, Kiyria: A Women Chosen in Christ; Called to Influence affirms that in Christian cirlces, the answer to this question isn't so black and white. As a Christian, she always felt that her decision to avoid the holiday was just the right thing to do... that is of course until a turning point, when confronted by her children with an all too familiar rationale. She presents their case:

"Please let us go trick-or-treating next year. We always play dress up and we have so many hats and costumes and wigs, so you don't have to buy any and we only want to get some candy and have fun with our friends! We know Satan is bad and we love Jesus, and I'm sure he'd walk around with us and get candy if he was here. "

Ellie's post pin points the true nature of this argument for Christian parents. What about the kids? They'll miss out!

As parents, should we be allowing anything--even a rational argument from our innocent little ones-- deter us away from the convictions of our hearts?

She goes on to grapple with the fact that her children's assertions began to blur the boundaries of her own resolve. For the remainder of her post, she probes the issue further and concludes with this final notion:

"..there are no evil spirits in our pumpkins, nor do they roam in my neighbor's black cat. As for witches and black magic, the Bible is clear. All Hallows Eve ought to be a social, wholesome, and yes, even joyful time. For our family, it is."

When I read her closing thoughts, part of me wanted to applaud her for stepping out of the rigid box of legalism we Christians sometimes put ourselves into. However, another part of me grew troubled. As a believer, I maintain that there are absolutes in life, but I wondered whether this issue was as black and white as I had originally thought.

Angelo Stagnero, a Christian blogger who writes for the U.S Catholic blog approaches the matter quite pragmatically. He places the evolution of Halloween into a historic context. He believes adamantly that Christians should embrace the day. He writes:

"Halloween is steeped in Catholic theology and piety, and besides, it's just so much damn fun. We couldn't have arranged a more perfect synthesis of devotion and festivity had we tried. When you get to the core of what the holiday is, you find an overwhelmingly Catholic Christian holiday. It should be recognized and celebrated as such-warts, spider webs, and all.

On the Christian calendar November 1 is All Saints Day, or "All Hallows' Day." The word "Halloween" is simply the abbreviated form of "All Hallows' Eve," the vigil celebration in anticipation of the feast day."

He argues that Halloween should not be cloaked in cult folklore, but rather it should be viewed from the historical perspective from which it sprang. For Angelo the answer is clear. He frames his case for Halloween in no uncertain terms:

"Halloween is a great time to get your scare on. If not now, when? Let's indulge in the sticky, the creepy, and in things that go bump in the night on Halloween. This is our night to bump back. You can dress as a devil as long as you don't succumb to the diabolical. If you dress as a demon, you are no more worshiping a demon than you are worshiping an angel if you dressed as your favorite cherub."

I am still a bit undecided on the whole issue, but as a Christian, I think I'll throw myself into the mystery of my faith at this critical juncture.

So for now, we will continue to observe our own hodge-podge-of-a-tradition:

Will we buy costumes? Yes

Will we buy Halloween candy? Yes

Will my kids collect and eat candy? Yes

Basically, we will dress our girls in some kind of Halloween neutral costume, and head to the church, where the Children's Ministry organizes a "Harvest Carnival". While my children will dress in costume, we will avoid the traditional stuff, and focus instead on costumes that center around careers and things of that nature.

What about you? Will your kids be getting their creep on?


Hevel said...

I thought we were Halloween safe till we started associate with more American expats. But it is just something we simply don't do. We do have Purim, a Tanakh based holiday, to dress up and be silly, and not long before Halloween we have three holidays in quick succession, so enough is enough. No way we can squeeze in another one!

Joseph Glenn said...

This Blog is DADDY Approved!

Brazenlilly said...

We do something similar to your plan. We go to the church "harvest" celebration, we dress up in fun costumes, play carnival games and eat some candy. When we see scary-looking witches, ghouls or skeletons at any number of stores, I try to steer Carson away and just say "I don't really like to look at those." I think this balancing act is similar to any number of issues we have as Christian parents. Trying to be in the world but not of the world. Keeping our convictions while not sheltering our children into sure rebellion! It will be easy to grab onto our own familial philosophy and judge others who do it differently, so I appreciate you having an open dialogue with no judgments! I'm interested to see what other families do.

Lisa P said...

We do this like we do most things--talk about it plainly with our kids and then participate in the parts that we feel comfortable with. For us, we do the Country Fair costume contest at the kids' school, which is a blast. And then, since we're in the country and it's too far and dark to go trick-or-treating, we have our own Halloween party at our house. We jack-o-lanterns, games, costumes, and some sort of treasure hunt around our property. The bonus is that since there are no lights out here and it's dark already, it really IS spooky without having to use witches or anything of the sort! Each stop in the treasure hunts gets the kids prizes and candy, so they feel like they have loot too!

Glad to see you grapple with the issue and work to make a rational choice--not a pendulum swing or a fear-based decision. It's fun to journey with you on this.

Melody said...

Oh yeah, we do Halloween in our house because this Mamma loves to dress up and be silly. We have friends who don't do Halloween and are surprised that we do but we are very comfortable with our position. We don't do freaky, scare-the-heck out of you costumes but we don't do Bible Character costumes either. I'm all for getting to know Bible characters and I recommend reading the Bible to all my friends, BUT come we really have to make our kids dress up as Abraham and Sara just so we feel better about doing Halloween as Christians??!!

Our son is going as batman this year and our daughter is batgirl. Of all the princesses and fairies out there....and she chooses batgirl! I bought a nun costume but then figured I was just way too stinikn' old to be dressing up in a costume so I took it back. But I'm really wanting to go back and get it.

I loved your post about this...good stuff!

Steph said...

I say, Halloween it up! I was raised to look forward to this holiday as the one day a year I was allowed to stuff my face with as much candy as I could before bed! My parents only had one rule: we could dress up as anything we wanted to except things that were considered evil (which included promiscuously dressed girls). My opinion is that the general observance of Halloween in America is about kids having fun and collecting candy and is not basis for a Christian dilemna. However, I respect anyone's decision to not be involved in the holiday! I totally get that a 5 year old witch wearing Dora shoes and a 7 year old goblin wearing a Scooby Doo shirt is of the devil. I kid, I kid! But seriously though, have a tootsie roll for me!


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