Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Harvest

His first Halloween he was a little lion with the sweetest little tail.  The next year he was an elephant, and then a rhinoceros, a cowboy and two years in a row he was Buzz Lightyear.  Last year he created his own Daniel Boone costume.  The costumes have been passed down to the younger brothers.

The costumes are perhaps the only thing left that resembles Halloween.

When Isaiah was young, we thought we could adapt the pagan traditions and instead of dropping in on neighbors asking, "Trick or Treat?" holding open baskets waiting to be treated, we opted to visit friends and instead greet them with "Happy Harvest!" and a treat that we had brought them.  It was our attempt at bringing light to the darkness, on a night that celebrated the grousome, the grotesque and the occult.

Unfortunately, we found that while this brought smiles to the faces of the friends we visited it did little for our children.  While at the houses of friends, others would come to the door dressed as witches, devils, ghosts and the like.

The boys would be scared.  They would ask why it was OK for others to beg for candy.  Why was there fake blood dripping from the mouths of those they encountered?

Then we thought that allowing them to dress up and taking them out to dinner would be a good compromise.  This led to similar problems and also had them out after dark, seeing (and questioning) the increasingly prevalent Halloween decorations on lawns and houses we drove past.

Another year we tried going to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They live in a neighborhood with lots of small children and we thought it may be fun for the boys to show Grandma and Grandpa their costumes and they could help pass out candy.

This was even more problematic as it seemed all of town had congregated in their neighborhood having arrived there on flatbed trucks!  Teens and adults were dressed as vampires and other goulish creatures.

Our attempt to adapt, to find a way to participate in such a day yet be consistent in what we were teaching our children, to not have them feel left out, failed miserably.

We found that our substitute was teaching them that there was something they were supposed to feel they were missing out on.  That was not the message we wanted to send!  We also learned that they would rather not participate and they, in fact, did not at all feel left out of anything!

On a night when the spiritual battle rages most fiercely, when Satan is being celebrated, we have found it to be far more consistent and fruitful to continue to train them to be soldiers in Christ's army than to send them into the front lines unprepared.

Now that two of them are older, they fully understand why we do not participate and given the option they would choose not anyway.  Noah has no idea there even is such a thing called Halloween... yet.

When someone asks the children what they're going to be, or what they're going to do, they simply say that we don't celebrate Halloween.  Sadly, most don't accept this answer and press harder.  "Haha!  Everyone celebrates halloween!  Does your mom really not let you go out!?" The boys have been known to use this opportunity to witness to grocery store baggers and bank tellers of Christ's love and light.

This approach is also one more thing that teaches them that it's good to be different.  It's good to not follow the crowd.  It's a good thing to be mindful and aware.  To think about why we do what we do.

We have long since dismissed Halloween as a holiday.  We found that all the kids really cared about was eating candy and dressing in a costume.  Halloween night, they're now tucked safely in bed early.  The porch light stays dark.

The week after Halloween, we fill the candy bowl with steeply discounted candy... and it's a normal day in our house to find children dressed as Daniel Boone, American Indians, or even vikings.


Anonymous said...

Just read this last night and thought it was good...Erica


Lisa said...

Thank you! I loved the article, and the idea of celebrating the reformation! What a wonderful distraction from the hubbub surrounding Halloween!
Thanks for sharing!


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