Tuesday, October 28, 2008

By Any Other Name

As we approach Halloween I am always intrigued by the changes that have occurred since I was a child. Growing up everyone in our neighborhood and church went trick-or-treating. There was no question that the next day at lunch everyone would have a lunchbox full of sweets.

Then when I was in elementary school the candy of a few became laced with drugs and razor blades. Then many schools began to create safe festivals to make sure we were safe. This not only allowed us to dress up, receive candy but also to play fun games on this night.

So much had changed when my own son was born. Christians no longer stayed home to pass out candy to their neighbors. They no longer sent out their children to their neighbors. No, the lights on many Christian homes were dark.

The reason? Because "we don't believe in Halloween" was the answer I received. They didn't want to participate so they brought all their candy and dressed their kids up and headed to church for their "Fall Festival." When I began to question some of the other mothers that gave me this answer asking what the difference was, I was told "the kids don't dress up as Satan or a witch." What, you couldn't dress them as something nice to go out into their neighborhood?

David and his pumpkins
It became glaringly obvious that we were out of step with many of the church officials at my son's preschool (where I was their secretary) when the guest speaker at chapel was preaching against Halloween to the preschool and elementary school kids. The speaker explained to the kids that the carving of pumpkins was always evil. It was acceptable to paint or put stickers on a pumpkin at any other time of the year, just not at Halloween. He explained that people only carved evil images into pumpkins. He also said that his kids and grand kids were allowed to dress up in costumes any day but on Halloween night. Of course, he didn't believe that dressing up as Biblical characters was a costume. So the fall festivals were acceptable.

When the speaker asked if there were any questions my little four-year-old David stood up and told him he was wrong. We had carved pumpkins, but they had "David's House" and nice things. He also told him he was going to dress up as "Bear In The Big Blue House" and he was going to visit our neighbors. David also told the speaker that his mom said he could go out so there was nothing wrong with it. This little speech from the mouth of my babe left the speaker speechless.

Scarecrow David
When David was only 17 months old and we dressed him up as a cowboy, chaps and all, he would take the candy from each neighbor and then sit down on their front steps and talk to them as he enjoyed their treat. It took us about two hours to go to 8 houses, but not only did we enjoy ourselves but the neighbors got a chuckle out of it.

I can respect it if someone truly doesn't believe in Halloween and doesn't participate in any way. One of my friends told me this week that they never participated in Halloween, but that her parents also refused to allow them to attend the fall festival at church. This is consistent with their belief and I can understand and would never question that belief. However, a rose by any other name is still a rose and getting candy while dressed in costumes during the end of October is still Halloween.

I had fun as a kid dressing up and roaming the neighborhood. I even dressed up one year as a witch. And guess what? I never did have any interest in witchcraft or magic. Yes, nowadays we have to be more careful with what houses we allow our kids to visit. But I was more than willing to watch carefully over David's trick-or-treating. This year he is a teenager and will not be getting dressed up or going out, but I am glad we made the choice we did.


Arlene said...

I agree with you...

"A false balance is an abomination."

My David is 20 this year, and he and his girlfriend are dressing up as scarecrows to go hang out at their Christian bar (I mean coffeehouse, coffeehouse!) with other costumed college kids and enjoy their weekly Bible study. The heathens! ;)

Richard D said...

The Christian bar - That's about it, isn't it? I think the conservative Evangelical drug of choice is caffeine. Get 'em while they're young.

Kim said...

Arlene- It was great talking to you on the phone last night. How was the pir? I hope the kids had fun.