Trick or Tract?

Wow…what a day!
We’ve hit that point in Baby-Land where there’s a whole lot of screaming and puking and scrunchy-faced misery. Poor baby boy…. There’s also a lot of walking back and forth on the floor for this mama and papa, and lots of shirt changing to deal with the sudden volume of spit up, and lots of ‘your turn/my turn’ meals and moments as we attempt to pack and plan and live a little. It’s good times 😉

BTW, thank you SO much for the great engagement and comments on that last post. It was a little random and a lot open, and I really appreciate the collection of thought and feedback that was offered. Keep it coming! (and I’m sure there’s going to be more ‘random and open’ posts these months as my writing/personal ‘filter’ is kinda missing in the haze of everything. Wahoo! ; ))

So, I wasn’t totally sure about writing this post. Hm. I want to put a strong disclaimer on it stating: This is just me and my thoughts, nothin’ against anybody else, and everything still in process.

Yesterday was Halloween.
As a child, I had a blast with trick’or’treating. I was raised with three rad brothers (yup, I’m the only gal!) and found great pleasure in creating homemade GI Joe and Pirate and Hobo costumes right alongside them (nope, not a whole lot of Princess or Barbie action on my end 😉 ) We canvassed the neighborhood with hungry pillow cases, attended the school costume parties and fun nights, and shared games nights with families in the area. It was fun, not overly hyped, just…whatever.

As the years went by however, we started to question if we ‘should do’ Halloween. Origins were considered, options were tried, and conversations were shared which seemed to indicate you either ‘celebrated’ and were a certain kind of person, or you ‘abstained’, indicating another side or party line. Certain families had certain statements. Certain schools (and by then, my college) allowed certain activities along certain vague guidelines. It was a little tricky to figure out, though you generally knew when you crossed a line (eeks!).

In those college years, J and I were led by some rad profs. Sound teaching, stimulating discussion, and open minds allowed us to begin considering new ideas and modes of thought. One point of historical theology which was presented  was Reformation Day; the recognized date for when Luther presented his 95 theses in Wittenberg. It’s not really a day calling for candy or costumes, but it happens to land on this Hallow’s Eve. There was also discussion on some of the actual Christian Religious origins of this All Saints Day. Offensive to some, depending on beliefs and bent, but still, a real event recognized by real people and worthy of thought.

Sooo…. (I don’t want to spend forever on this, just wanna hear some thoughts)

While in the Valley this past week, I was walking around town and paused at some of the ‘festive décor’. I really don’t think there were warlocks or witches hiding in those houses, but there was something…I dunno…vulgar(?) about the vast array of skeletons, tombstones, and other garb. I just didn’t get it. One thought stood out to me: Given how we want to guide our family, what is it about stocking up on sugar/dye/plasticwrapped candy and running around to deathly decorated houses, that I like? Not much.
Wait wait, don’t hang  up yet. That doesn’t mean I’m not a huge fan of costume parties or pumpkin carving or an excuse to have some silly fun out on the town street. It’s not likely that I’ll ever pull my kid from a classroom gathering that’s labeled ‘Halloween Party’. And nope, I have no desire at all to do some whacky pushback like handing out religious tracts and yelling on street corners in some distorted educational effort. I’ll never deck my doorstep in skeletal parts. It’s not likely I’ll cash in on the free candy. I won’t present my kids with some dividing line between ‘us and them’ and wear it with brimming arrogance.

 But I will be thoughtful as to what we put our time and funds and creativity towards. I will encourage celebrations whenever we can; seasons, faith and religion, home-made-family moments, and whatever else we can come up with as an opportunity for great food and photos and community. I’ll inform my kids about the true origins of the vast array of calendar-stated holidays, and be open to hearing their thoughts and guiding them towards discovery. I will encourage inquiry and be patient with messy learning. As a family, we’ll remain open and recognize that every day is a point of education and that it doesn’t always end with a forever conclusion.

So then.
Last night we carved a big ol’ pumpkin…into huge slices that were baked and pureed and concocted into some fantastic pies. We shared a beautiful meal (pesto roasted chicken, basil quinoa, a perfectly rustic stone backed rye bread, dark homemade wine, and that glorious pie), and then watched movies by the fire (Mickey for the Bamboo, Luther for us, to add thought to the historical aspect of the day). It was great! We had fun, we were a family, and if by chance a costumed someone somehow made it up our mountain with a hungry pillowcase, I think we could’ve helped fill that as well 😉

There’s a beautiful opportunity when we wed celebration and community and education.

Let’s love life… well and wisely and with joy.

12 Responses to “Trick or Tract?”
  1. sadie says:

    good thoughts! Well, I grew up on ‘the heights’ where anything halloween was strictly forbidden and deemed ‘heathen’, along w/ television, and mascara. So no dressing up, no candy, lights out. As we got older and moved back to Oregon, my parents lightened up and started letting us dress up, gorge ourselves on candy and watch movies as a family, but absolutely NO trick-or-treating! Looking back, it seems strange that we were allowed to participate in everything except the community aspect of the holiday. It’s the one day in the year where there is no awkward social interactions w/ neighbors and I found even yesterday, as I brought my boys around our street to some of the neighbors, I made acquaintances w/ strangers, and friendships w/ former acquaintances. I stood and talked w/ my next door neighbor for 15 minutes while Levi invited himself in to play w/ their grandkid’s toys. Of course, I could go knocking door to door any other day of the year, but that’s really weird and awkward.

    The creepiness of some of the decorations is a real turnoff, and so is the candy actually, but really, it’s no more a turnoff than tinsel and big obnoxious plastic santas, and all the sugar that seems to come about w/ Christmas.

    Anyways, all that to say, I struggle w/ a lot of the same issues you do, but I do enjoy the freedom I feel to celebrate the most community-oriented holiday w/ my kids while still being able to enforce some boundaries I feel strongly about.

  2. Kmarie says:

    My sister in law did a post on this which included a comment from a practicing muslim- so I found it well rounded.
    Here is the link:
    P.S.- It will probably change for you from year to year. There are ages we don’t do it and ages we do. We have a candy limit and we only allow this type of candy at Halloween and Christmas. The community makes it fun like you said but we live in a haven that downplays the morbid so that is nice:)
    Honestly- last year we had our own charlie brown sleepover in our room and cozied in. Both years were great.
    The local school does reformation day. The kids love it. I am not a fan for numerous reasons that will be saved for ‘regular’ conversations:) But again- it is still community so I can’t begrudge my kids the opportunity. Different stroked for different folks.
    Your little celebration sounded cozy…
    So we are both soooo curious…is it the city we think it is with a country atmosphere?!
    When shall we see you? YAY!

  3. Kmarie says:

    I meant strokes:) Tee hee that sounded… well…

  4. Delynne says:

    I like this. It’s balanced, and that’s what’s missing from so many opinions about this. I’m with Sadie – we always had “church” Halloween parties – all the same things, costumes, haunted houses, but in the church basement, so “holier”…?? (I never really got it)

    Most of our “Christian” holidays have pagan roots so you need to evaluate each one and have those discussions. We “do” Halloween, we get together with the kids in the neighboring village and go on a hayride to the 15 houses, where we all know each other… like Sadie said, a commmunity event. We don’t dress up “creepy”, and the kids already know the distinction between the good/bad sides of the holiday. And today we talked about All Saints Day, what it means in the Apostle’s Creed “communion with the saints”, etc.

    As for Reformation Day, well, I’d like to hear more about that! My bias against Luther is because of his influence on art in the church – it wasn’t all him, but he started that ball rolling and the Protestant church has suffered terribly for it in regards to art. Can you do a post on it sometime?

    • Dea' says:

      Ohh…good thoughts! And great balance! Yay!

      Delynne, I LOVE how you guys do that day. It always seems so fun and festive and you can tell the kids love it. And Sades, I totally never thought about the community growth and interaction which comes from welcomed door knocking! I love that. I need to think about that…. Oh, and the whole ‘plastic Santa/tinsel crap’ as well. GOOD point 😉

      (you can tell when the crazy cub has finally crashed hey? I go on an internet rampage…though at the cost of a shower/cleaning/sleeping rampage. It’s just SO good to ‘hang out’ with you guys 😉 )

      Delynne, Luther, etc. Hmm. we don’t go nuts with it, and we don’t even fully agree/support all that he did or stimulated, but it’s been an interesting day to think about. It seems like some new perspective or conversation is stirred up when we stop and talk about it, though we’re faaaaar from really ‘getting’ him. (I actually didn’t know about the art thing…yikes!!!)

      KMarie…I LAUGHED at ‘stroked’ tee hee hee…. (and we’re heading to Edmnonton. In 28 days!!! Though J hopes to pass through TH on Sunday the 21st, I think)

      Alright. I need to find my kitchen. And some clothes. And bake up these 3 new pumpkins Jer just walked in with. And book the mover. And pack. and sleep (wait, that’s for next years…). And… Thanks for bring my community.

  5. Delynne says:

    Yeah, Luther said art did not belong in the church – his recommendation was to “remove it in an orderly fashion”, but many of his or Calvin’s followers went on horrible rampages and gutted churches of centuries worth of art. Virtually no art exists in the Netherlands prior to 1566 (the Iconoclastic Riots, during which followers of Calvin “cleansed” the churches by rioting and burning the art)… it’s very sad.

    And, that attitude still exists (without people understanding why) in Protestant churches today – virtually no visual art, a plain and austere environment usually. What I find ironic is that one of the critiques Luther made of art in the church was that it wasn’t designed to give glory to God but rather to show wealth, so ostentatious – well, look at what we’ve done now! Instead of beautiful religious art, we have cushy chairs, or new carpets, or big buildings… not artsy, but designed to show wealth.

    This is long, sorry! But one other point that I at least have noted, having long wanted to be an artist – it’s a “dangerous” profession for a Christian. I was completely discouraged from pursuing art (other than the “Christian” art of music) as a child, being an artist (in Christian circles) has historically been looked down upon. Thank God that is changing, but that’s how it used to be, something akin to working in a liquor store.

  6. Kmarie says:

    I know- tis sad and unfortunate. There are many other things people do today because of luther that are not positive. His reformation was good in theory for that time period but it is akin to what the Emergents were to christianity a few years ago. Positive change needing to happen at that time but wrong when taken out of context or fully running with all the ideas. Anyway- in short- I wouldn’t celebrate any of these type of events of a changing of ideas because with them come both negative and positive. A completely different story than most other Holidays. Although all Holidays have ‘pagan’ roots – some very beautiful ‘pagan’ roots- which are of God too because anything that holds true goodness , love and beauty cannot exist within evil.
    Anyhoo I could go on and on about various things but people need to read up and decide for themselves. WE all have varied goals, values, beliefs and mentalities- so we each will have a different take on these issues:)
    It’s fun to discuss tho isn’t it?

  7. Jamie says:

    Lots of thoughts on this lately.

    The big issue for me is the sheer fact that this is the biggest celebration day of the year for a lot of occult activities. I once heard a firsthand account from a classmate of the utterly satanic evils that he’d witnessed and been a part of on Halloween. Truly unbelievable. It is so real and so dangerous that I want to be sure we do not encourage our children or anyone else’s children toward that in any way.

    At the same time, I don’t want to hide away, and I don’t want to be the religious house on the street where all the normal, not satanic little trick-or-treaters know they’ll get a lame tract instead of a good treat. So for the last few years, we bought full-size candy bars and handed them out with (uplifting, not condemning) verses taped on them. I was one of the normal trick-or-treaters that just liked getting candy, and I think that to most non-Christian kids, the bigger testimony is in being kind and generous, not freaking out about what seems harmless.

    This year, we live where nobody would consider trick-or-treating, so we went to the town’s harvest party. I love that it was a harvest party, not a Halloween party. I loved the community aspect of it and getting to hang out with lots of adorable little kids, and some ghoulish ones too. So I guess this is where I’m at with it all: I love pumpkin carving, cute costumes, and chocolate. And I despise the glorification of evil.

    As the glorification of evil at Halloween seems to get worse every year, I am not sure whether I will want our children trick-or-treating. Definitely not at homes that have wicked things in the yard… and as that seems to be all of them, and as it seems to be worse every year, I think at this point I want to just not celebrate “Halloween” but rather dress up and go to “harvest parties.” It may seem like mere semantics but there really does seem to be a big difference.

    I guess this seems to me like a lot of other areas of parenting and life and worship in which we must tread carefully. I know other people will do things differently and I really do think that is okay. But whatever we do must be done to the Lord. For me, that means we can take Rilla and Abraham to the town harvest party, and they can play with the elephant that gives candy or play with the bean bag toss. They may not have their fortunes told, even by the high school kid who is just making stuff up. They may use the tickets they win to buy a fun balloon, but not a spider ring. But they can interact with friends and neighbors wearing ghoulish costumes even as they themselves wear chicken outfits. 🙂

    Kind of a fine line, but somehow I am liking the way we were able to do it this year. Grace and flexibility and discernment worked together in such a way that we could enjoy a day of fun and costumes without paying homage to evil. I suppose that is my goal for future October 31s as well.

    Oh, and I think it’s great that you guys celebrate Reformation Day! I want to celebrate MORE holidays, not less, than the rest of our culture. We have been really mulling over the MANY celebrations of the Old Testament, even the monies set aside for parties, and wanting to do more of that… living more celebratory lives than the rest of the culture, not pulling back as though Christians have less to celebrate. But more on that some other time.

Thoughts? Comments? Hmm....

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