Why We’re Not Doing Halloween

I grew up celebrating Halloween. Every year we’d dress up in our costumes, go trick-or-treating, and load up on candy that our parents would have to sift through first to remove any potential poison (like Baby Ruth bars or anything grape-flavored). We had Halloween parties quite often, and I won the costume contests at school several years consecutively.

halloween

I remember, as a teenager, wearing a “Happy Halloween” pin on my shirt to church one Sunday and one of the older gentlemen outright scolded me. I scoffed at how out-of-touch he was. Halloween obviously wasn’t an evil holiday anymore because people didn’t really worship satan. Psh. Everybody knew that. Except this guy. He seemed a bit radical, being so concerned over something so harmless

Then we adopted our kitties (before we knew hubs and our future children would all be allergic) and one of them, Toby, was all black. In passing, the shelter worker commented that during September and October they had to be careful in pet adoptions because people were always looking for black cats to use in their sacrifice rituals on Halloween.

I’m not joking. I wish I were, but that’s what she said, and that’s what her experience working in an animal shelter has shown her.

When I was pregnant with Little Miss, Brent informed me he didn’t feel great about celebrating Halloween with our children. I was pretty dismissive about it. In my mind’s eye, if you didn’t celebrate the way other people did, if you didn’t embrace any of the “bad” stuff about it, it was fine.

We had a rule: only cute, innocent costumes. Little Miss dressed up each year, and we took her to our friend’s house as tradition began, trick-or-treated in their neighborhood, then went home and hit up whatever houses on our block still had their porch light on.

Not everyone shared in our only cute or innocent rule. There was one year a decoration scared her quite badly. So much in fact, she still remembers it two years later. There were yards and houses we walked by where the decorations made me feel uncomfortable. Sure, they were just decorations – but so gory. So….gross. So not what my toddler daughter needed to see before bed. And some of the costumes… I couldn’t understand how the kids didn’t scare themselves.

The last couple of years I’ve been remembering what one of my former co-workers said when I asked him if he was going to dress his little boy up for Halloween. He said, “We don’t do Halloween. Jesus told us to be in the world, but not of it. This is one way we set ourselves apart.”

I’ll be honest: at the time he said it, I thought it was a little arrogant. Presumptuous, even. After all, I had celebrated Halloween my whole life and still loved Jesus.

Walking around with haunting, death, and evil being used as decorations and trying to explain to my toddler that it wasn’t really as scary as it seemed, however, started to put things in a different perspective for me. Even making ghosts or witches “cute” somehow lost its innocence on me as my daughter clutched my leg, refusing to walk down a driveway lined with skulls and hanging bats.

I’ve had enough dental issues, and health problems in general, where I know better than to load my kids up with candy. But really, could we turn down free goodies like that? I mean if your job is to go door-to-door and load up on some top-of-the-line treats without having to pay for any of it, why wouldn’t you take advantage of the opportunity?

I started to feel really conflicted. And maybe even convicted.

We don’t embrace evil or worship it in any such sense. But it wasn’t as if we were ministering to people as we knocked on their door to get goody hand-outs, either. “Treat-or-Trinity, the Holy Ghost wants to transform your life!” Though now that I think about it, I think I really missed some opportunities to minister and cash in on the candy simultaneously. “I dressed up as a worship leader! Let’s all sing – – In Christ aloooooooooone…. my hope is fouuuuuund….”

I even found myself passing judgment on some of the homes based on what they handed out. “Seriously, Bit-O-Honey? Who hands out Bit-O-Honey?” or “Wow, one Jolly Rancher. Thanks for that.” I wasn’t even the one trick-or-treating and I was totally snubbing my nose at these kind strangers!

I also quickly grew tired of covering Little Miss’ eyes from seeing masks of bloodied faces, decorations of decapitated beasts, or other detestable sights, most of which I didn’t want to see myself. What really did it for me last year, was seeing a bloodied, decapitated and partially dismembered baby doll lying in someone’s front yard.

No. No more.

A few months ago, I messaged my husband and told him I was done celebrating Halloween. He responded with, “Finally!”

I’m not one for enjoying being scared. I’ve lived with fear and anxiety the better part of the last 30 months, and I don’t need to purposefully position myself to be frightened by anything else. I can’t, in good conscience, drag my kids around telling them not to be afraid when the sole purpose of so many decorations (and costumes) is to instill discomfort, spook, or frighten.

After breaking the news about abandoning our tradition, instead of voicing protest, Little Miss voiced relief from not having to trick-or-treat among “all the scary stuff”.

We don’t need the candy. We don’t need the costumes. We don’t need the fear, even if it isn’t “real”. We don’t need it.

So a new tradition begins this year. It might be weird for me. I’ve celebrated Halloween my entire life, and up until I left corporate America, still dressed up every year.

I’m also not passing any kind of judgment on anyone who celebrates Halloween as a harmless, innocent night out with kids. I get that. I’ll miss it – parts of it – myself.

But for our family, it’s not for us anymore. And I’m far more comfortable since having made that call than I was going on as usual. Here’s to new traditions.