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Hell No Ween? Hell-oween? Hello-ween?

Whoa. This was a year ago!
Since I became a Jesus-follower at the age of 15, every October I have had to wrestle with the whole Halloween thing. Should I, or shouldn't I? How much? Reject it? Redeem it? I think I've done the whole spectrum of things, from handing out candies at my parents' place, to abandoning ship (lights off, nobody's home) and hiding out, to "Noah's Fest" at church, to attending full-costume Halloween parties. Most years I've been mostly ambivalent (read: done nothing), since I was too old to gather free candy and not yet in a place and space where I needed to hand out my own.

But now that I have a walking, talking toddler, it changes everything.  I have to think about Halloween, and figure out how to help her understand it in light of our walk as believers.

As a kid growing up in a non-Christian home, I loved dressing up and going to public school and having a costume party with way too much sugar involved.  Before dollar stores were en vogue, my mom painstakingly drew and cut out Halloween shapes on construction paper (a ghost, a black cat, an orange pumpkin, a witch's silhouette, etc.) and every year, we would paste these delicate pieces onto our living room window to invite trick-or-treaters to stop by. Those days were always pregnant with anticipation of the exciting, spooky night ahead. I found myself wide-eyed with wonder at the mysterious transformation of my neighborhood on Oct. 31st.  And after a long, cold night of gathering candy (especially from the generous houses that gave out goody *bags* full of candy, or the coveted chip houses), I relished sorting through my loot and doing trades and comparisons with my sisters.

I don't know if Little L will get the same pleasure, because we currently live in a high-rise apartment in a part of downtown that is also highly commercial.  There are no neighborhood homes, just building after building of multi-level concrete residences inaccessible behind their glass and fancy buzzers. Little L will also be attending a Christian school, the one where I taught at and where many of my friends teach, and also the one that does not in any way "celebrate" or endorse Halloween. Sure, there is an acknowledgement of the day, and for older kids, an education on the history of its pagan origins. However, there is no dressing up, no partying, and most definitely no spooky stuff occurring on or near the 31st.  School policy.

So how are we going to approach this date on the calendar?

I found a great blog about it, from Trouble Face Mom.  You can read it here

Though it doesn't totally give me the answers, I love that it gives me an alternative to the outright rejection of Halloween, which isn't necessarily the best response for Christians living in this culture. After recognizing the pagan (and the Christian) roots surrounding the day, I think there is a way to participate, to be a light among men, and to "redeem" the holiday such that Little L isn't existing in a vacuum, hiding away from what 90% of the rest of the kids in our city are doing. I don't want her to grow up in a bubble, and I don't want her to constantly feel as though she is "missing out" when my own feelings on activities like trick-or-treating are fairly mixed. I do believe that it is possible, and perhaps even profitable, to be engaged in the culture (though not of it), rather than be isolated from it, a practice that robs believers of any opportunity to be a proverbial light in the darkness.

Within guidelines, of course.  Per the article, I also will not permit "scary" or violent costumes or situations, anything that deals with the demonic (e.g. devils, ghosts, zombies, etc.), or anything that we come across that seems beyond the realm of "innocuous" and "innocent" fun.  I am careful in how I describe and label things to Little L, and instead of focusing on witches and ghosts, we talk about kids dressed up in pointy black hats and those with white sheets over their face. I try to take the "fear" out of the day, and hope that Little L will see beyond the attempts at spooking and more to the heart of the occasion: dressing up in "pretend" outfits, having fun, getting some free candy and treats, and helping others see that Christians are not spooky, weird, scary people who should be avoided ;)

What are your thoughts on Halloween? How does your faith play a role in how you approach the day?

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