When I was a kid, everyone I knew participated in Halloween’s most popular event: trick-or-treating. When I say everyone that includes all the people from my conservative-minded, small to medium sized Christian church. One of the best places to trick-or-treat was the pastor’s house—they gave out good stuff!
We lived in the country, hence, we were not subjected to the likes of “designated trick-or-treat days and times”. Heck, no, we trick-or-treated multiple times during the week of October 31—as many times as our mom would take us, her insisting we not miss one of the church’s little old ladies’ who apparently lived for seeing all the “kids” in their costumes. Sometimes heeding the designated times when we headed in to our “town” friends’ homes—but not always. We were rebels, I tell you. And serious masqueraders, too. You see, our costumes always included a mask or some sort of face-disguising mechanism, with the goal being to stump the person who opened the door. This poor or lucky person depending on your perspective HAD to guess until he/she uncovered the trickster’s identity. None of this bare-faced, lazy masquerading for us. No, siree. And we only went to the homes of people we knew, never strangers. Fortunately, we knew a lot of people, most of whom prepared weeks in advance for visiting tricksters.
And then a few years later, like overnight it seemed, trick-or-treating and all things Halloween were suddenly awful and terrible and of the devil. Say what? By then I was past the age of actually going trick-or-treating and didn’t have children yet so my immediate interest in the subject was minimal, but still, I struggled to grasp the sudden change.
In the next couple years, many in our conservative-minded community got on board the “we don’t do Halloween” bus and took quite a stand, citing the centuries-old origins and practices surrounding the holiday. As parenthood loomed in our future, we felt compelled to check out the “new” evidence suddenly wrapped around the very events that held many fond memories for both me and my husband. We didn’t delve too deeply into the history and traditions of the holiday but enough to discover some things we’d never associated with our innocent, fun-filled Halloween traditions. Yeah, some of the stuff was pretty yucky and nasty and evil. But what did that have to do with us and our Halloween traditions of wacky costumes, stumping our friends and neighbors and hoarding massive amounts of candy?
We eventually settled on a happy medium. We’d never been into the really scary stuff anyway, so we set a precedent of no super scary costumes—monsters or really gross creatures. Or stuff like the devil or corpses. Costume decisions became a family affair, requiring agreement from both parents. No springing an idea on us the day before. After much discussion, our daughter once wore a pair of black pajamas with the major skeletal bones outlined in white with glow-in-the-dark glasses that imitated facial bones. After all, skeletons ARE a real fact of life and not necessarily scary or evil. Right?
I love all things fall and wasn’t about to give up my favorite season because some people had deemed Halloween, pumpkins and every other staple of fall to be evil. Pumpkins are cute and fun and make for mighty tasty treats. They are not evil. And the gorgeous rainbow of fall colored leaves? Nothing morbid about them. God’s handiwork at its finest.
So, we put a big emphasis on fall. We decorate with pumpkins and leaves, inside and out. We stockpile canned pumpkin and actually schedule which of our favorite treats we will make when, leaving room each year for scrumptious new recipes. Sometimes we entertain with a fall theme—everything is either shaped like a pumpkin or leaf, has pumpkin as an ingredient OR is orange in color. It’s just fun.
A few years ago, our church weighed in on the Halloween debate and decided, rather than to protest Halloween or join forces with those who’ve denounced any and all celebration, to host a family friendly outreach event—Trunk-or-Treat—during the local city’s trick-or-treat time slot. Since our church is 6 miles from town, we rent a pavilion at the park, line the parking lot with family-friendly decorated car trunks or truck beds from which candy is distributed to trick-or-treaters. In the pavilion we serve hot soups, an array of home-baked goodies, hot and cold beverages. And we visit with people. We ooh and ahh over their cute little ones. We make new connections and renew old acquaintances. We share church info, when asked, and have brochures on hand. We welcome 500+ people from the community at no cost to them. A fact that many find quite difficult to believe.
You do this for FREE? Every year? Wow…
Yep, we do. It’s a lot of fun. Quite a bit of work too, but many hands pitch in to make the evening a success.
So, that’s how we do Halloween. What about you? Do you do Halloween?