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Not so Thrillered

October 31, 2011

Some days I sit down in front of my computer, preparing to blog, and I have no idea what to write about.  Other times I know exactly what I’m going to write about.  But today is an in between time where the thing that I’m thinking about writing about isn’t necessarily a can of worms I want to open.  I don’t want to make other people feel insecure and defensive, nor do I want to be pressured to defend myself.  That little double whammy is usually enough to make me abandon the whole thing and write about puppies and kitties and butterflies instead.

Ok, maybe not.  There’s only so much a person can say about puppies and kitties and butterflies.  Life is more than a Lisa Frank notebook cover, after all.

You see, here is the deal:  I don’t do Halloween.

Just saying that much probably has some folks ready to defend why they do do Halloween.  The thing is, I’m fine with others making their own choices about it.  I’m fine with others making choices that aren’t the same as mine.  I’m not going to try to convince anyone to change their mind, and I’ve arrived at my own position in a way that I’m not open to changing mine, either.  But I am going to talk about why I don’t do Halloween.  It’s part of who I am and my framework for some of the things I do (or don’t do).

First of all I would like to make it clear that I am not anti-costume.  I’m certainly not anti-candy, and if you have an overabundance of Smarties, fork ’em on over because I like Smarties a lot.   I’m not anti-fun, either.  If you like to dress up in costumes and bang on your neighbor’s doors in search of donations of Smarties for me, go for it.  Have a nut.

I am also not anti-fall celebration, including carving pumpkins.  Yes, I’ve heard stories about jack-o-lanterns supposedly representing beheaded people and such.  Maybe they once did, I don’t know.  For me a pumpkin is either food, decoration, or something just waiting to hold my artistic expression.  Many years we don’t get any pumpkins.  But sometimes we do.

For me it’s the roots of the whole shebang.  I am about light.  I am about life.  But much of the Halloween vibe is about darkness and fear and death.  The death culture is very strong in Halloween.  And I just can’t play with death.  It’s not a toy, it’s not my friend, and I am wired to be the enemy of death until I’m done with this earthsuit and step out of it and dance right on into eternity.  I’ve found that I am unable to just do the “fun” parts of Halloween and pretend the dark parts don’t exist just because I’m not participating in them.  I can always feel them there, and I can feel that they do not celebrate the kingdom to which I belong.  It’s a violation of who I am and who I was made to be all the way to the core of me.

I am sensitive to things of darkness and things of the occult, more than most other people seem to be.  I am not ignorant of those things, nor am I naive.  I am not afraid of them, either.  But I take seriously that I have been charged to guard my heart, and because I’m wired this way, this is part of it.   I do not permit myself to be teased by fear or death.  Nothing about that is fun for me.  Nothing about it feels clean or right.

When my kids were very small we did a few harvest parties, and we had a select neighbor they would visit for trick-or-treat.  But that was only for a couple of years.  If they were invited to do costume parties, I was fine with that as long as they understood that costumes would have to be simple and inexpensive (and usually made out of sweatsuit from Walmart!).  If they were given candy at school or somewhere else, that was fine.  When they reached adolescence I let them begin to make their own choices about Halloween and the activities surrounding it.  They knew why I wouldn’t participate, and they knew that it violated my conscience to enable them to participate in the years before they were old enough to decide for themselves.

If you show me a photo of your kid in his Halloween costume and I tell you he looks cute, I mean it.  I am not secretly judging you for taking him trick-or-treating.  And though I don’t actively hand out candy and prefer to just plain not be home on Halloween, if you come bang on my darkened door and I’m home, I have a bag of treats stashed away so that little kids aren’t disappointed.

Oh, and if no little kids come, guess who gets the bag of treats?  This is why I always buy a bag of treats I personally approve as delicious.  Just in case.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2011 12:27 am

    Really good perspective! My wife shares your view for the same exact reason and though I don’t share the same sentiment, I can certainly appreciate the reason you have for not doing Halloween. Also, please don’t hog the Smarties, I would like some too!

  2. October 31, 2011 2:44 am

    I’m glad you didn’t talk about kittens and rainbows. I was gonna ask you this very question and figured I’d get the very answer I did. Very interesting perspective…something Justin and I have been wondering about. I read an interesting article on the Gateway Church website about this very subject.

    We are still forming our conclusion and will be walking the neighborhood gathering smarties and snickers. Perhaps we will dust ourselves off before we reenter our house.

  3. Eric Partin permalink
    October 31, 2011 7:29 am

    I too understand the occultic (I don’t think that is a real word) and pagan origins of Halloween. We never let our kids trick or treat and I know that it is a holiday that honors the dead and demons and darkness; all which I have chosen to stand against. So it was a real shocker to me that we as a leadership team decided to go with a Halloween theme, We knew it would be offensive to those who hold the same views that I do about the origins of Halloween. And even though our motive was not to offend, we did see people leave some services or forbid their teens from attending our church because we “celebrate Halloween.” Plain and simple our motive stemmed from the fact that Halloween is the 2nd most decorated “holiday” in our country and if that is the case, how can we ignore something that culture celebrates. We can’t just pretend like it doesn’t exist. We asked, how can we take what most of culture celebrates as a time for dressing up and use it to convey the timeless message of Christ? Much to my surprise, that is what we did. If you would have told me 10 years ago that we would have done this series, I too would have called Shoreline a worldly church. I feel like Peter at times when God showed him in a vision all of these unclean things and tells him to eat them.
    Also, Lisa, like you I am in no way trying to convince you to see the other side. I respect and value you your belief. IN fact, we need people like you with those convictions to continue to pray and intercede so Shoreline can continue to press into uncharted territory and take lives for God’s kingdom.

    • October 31, 2011 11:38 am

      I would say that my response to Shoreline’s series would best be characterized as “uncomfortable, but not opposed”. The Halloween theme was explored and exploited for kingdom purposes, and I can jive with that, which is why I never said anything while participation in the programming aspect of this series. You did a great job with each sermon I heard (missed the first one) and I believe that we can repackage the topic of the past month and present it over and over and it will have great value each time.

  4. October 31, 2011 9:35 am

    Best case for passing on the event I’ve heard in a long time. Stand your ground.

  5. October 31, 2011 12:42 pm

    I do celebrate Halloween, but simply in the form of dressing up, going trick or treating and passing out candy. My kids were never allowed to dress as a demon and we never decorated the house with anything other than pumpkins, casper looking ghosts and spider webs. I do see the dark side and don’t ignore it, but we don’t celebrate nor line up with that. It’s just a fun day to dress up and get and give candy.

    I do, however, very much respect the fact that alot of people don’t see it that way at all. I don’t feel like I’m lining up with Satan by allowing Halloween, nor do I feel like I’m even giving him any creedence or aurthority. I know who I am in Christ and therefore feel safe with how we celebrate it. I don’t really see the difference between reading Harry Potter and celebrating Halloween.

    However, having said that, I do respect and honor people to make their own choices about Halloween and I try NEVER EVER to push how I feel about it down anyone’s throats. I totally get that you don’t like to celebrate it, Lisa, and regardless what your reasons would be (even if I didn’t agree with them) would not judge you for feeling the way you do. What does bother me is when people try to get me to see it from their perspective (every single year) and won’t respect that I don’t believe that way. I totally respect the fact that even though you don’t like or celebrate Halloween (for your own personal reasons) that you don’t stand in judgement on those that do. I very much appreciate that!

    I hope I said all this right….my computer is messing up and I can’t see half of what I’ve written…I usually like to reread stuff just to make sure that I said it in the kindest way possible, but unfortunately, I can’t see what I wrote, so please just know that my words are coming from a non-judgemental heart and are meant in a way that totally respects your choices and believes as a sister in Christ.
    Love you, Lisa!

  6. Dawn permalink
    October 31, 2011 6:33 pm

    Bravo Lisa! All the things I think but don’t know how to say! Truly this is the one day every year where I feel like an alien- not the green kind- the Biblical sojourner kind- on earth. It truly has become my least favorite day of the year. Partly because I have always struggled with what was right for my children. Having not been raised in a Christian home ( both Rich and I ) has only made that more difficult. I am uncomfortable because I can’t take my youngest child to the store or drive down my street without him having nightmares for weeks before Halloween ( seriously- we have a bloody grave yard down the street complete with bloody children’s hand prints on the glass screen door- really) and that saddens me. I think there has been a huge shift in the last few years where Halloween has become another adult excuse to self indulge. Some take days off work transforming their homes/garages/yards into horror chambers. Millions are spent each year. For what purpose? To freak kids out? I just don’t get that.

    I’m with you on the “I will never judge you for what you chose”. And then again maybe my last few sentences in the last paragraph were somewhat judgmental ( can you feel the struggle?) Feel free to celebrate anyway you please. Our church’s response has been to celebrate Reformation night in honor Martin Luther and “The 95 Theses”. We gather for a meal and have some carnival fun, but there is also a test on a major reformer’s life. I’m ok with that for some reason, maybe because the emphasis is on something more along the lines of my beliefs. But sometimes I struggle with whether we ( the church) have just tried to “Christianize” another pagan holiday. I know Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas for the same reason.

    You know, the thing is, that the older I get and the more scary it’s become each year, the more difficult it is for me to swallow in all honesty. Maybe it’s because people are putting graveyards in their yards with corpses hanging from trees (yeap and that probably sounds judgmental- not so good with the words as you Lisa). Not sure, but I do know I’m grateful every year when the day has passed.

    Great thought provoking post Lisa!

  7. November 1, 2011 12:00 am

    To all the commenters and readers: The roots of Halloween do not define for me what it is today. The roots of the Christmas holiday were born in paganism; Puritans refused to celebrate– calling it ‘witchcraft”, but I don’t let that define the way I participate in Christmas

    I’m all for light too—being light in dark places. (not that I’m gonna go out and hunt down a coven or something stupid like that just because it’s halloween)

    This particular subject hits a nerve for me because Halloween is often poo-poo’d while the real origins of Christmas are never discussed. (nor Easter, for that matter)

    I really don’t give a hoot about the origin of either one. I understand and respect other’s choices. I like God says “WHATEVER you do, do all to the Glory of God.”

    just my 2 cents worth!

  8. November 21, 2011 3:59 pm

    I love your insight, and I appreciate your heart and your wisdom. I also was initially freaked out about Shoreline’s “Halloween” series, but each message was so awesome, I thought it tied in really well. Things aren’t always what they seem at Shoreline (ex: the wet t-shirt contest next spring break). Anyway, I agree with your post.

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