Thursday, October 17, 2013

Joy vs. Fear (why I don't like Halloween)

Thank you for taking the time to value my opinion enough to read these posts.
The subject of Halloween can be approached from many angles and I want to clarify that this will be merely my opinion of celebrating joy or celebrating fear. This will not be a lengthy or scholarly discussion about the roots of halloween, the pagan rituals that have evolved into 21st century culture, or anything that poses the "should we celebrate" vs "should we not".

As a child, I enjoyed fantasy. My favorite books and cartoons were brightly colored bears, ponies, and Rainbow Brite and her sprites (and her unicorn, of course!)
One of the few times my mom took a photo of me dressed up to collect candy on Halloween, I was dressed as Shy Violet from Rainbow Brite. She even cut out cardboard glasses and used glue and glitter to decorate them to match the sparkling purple glasses that Violet wore. (little did I know how I would detest the need for glasses when I was older)

It was so much fun to dress up and have people comment favorably on my creative choice, then reward me with sweet treats I normally couldn't have. (because my parents didn't indulge us often)

My children are all girls, ages 6, 4, and 2. Due to our newspaper subscription, they are visually reminded on a weekly if not daily basis that there are costumes for sale, candy bars for sale, and that Halloween is soon approaching. They enjoy dressing up and this year want to be a kitty, a bunny, and the youngest just wants to join in.

What I don't like is that the word Halloween keeps coming up in their conversations, and usually around the same time, they'll begin playing in a manner that is not calm or peaceful. My oldest will chase the second-born or they'll play a version of hide-and-seek that is more akin to monster-seeking-victim. The oldest announces her arrival with a hearty "Rooaaaar!" and her sister echoes with a resounding shriek. The high frequency of her shriek is something I never could produce myself, it's ten times higher than a person's voice should be allowed to squeak.

We had a discussion this evening because the older one continued to "roar" or say "boo" in an attempt to scare, and her sister followed up with that piercing shriek each time, but would begin crying afterward and telling her sister she didn't want to anymore. (and then they would go right back to it!)

I asked the girls, "When we scare each other, are we honoring God?"
"No." "Are we bringing joy to our sisters? Or fear?"
"We're not doing that in our house anymore. This is like the difference between secret and surprise. I love it when you surprise me with something pleasant! You bring me joy!"
So, we started trying to "surprise" each other and say "peek-a-boo" instead of the scary "booooo" that we'd begun with.
The younger two would hide, and the older one would sneak up as quietly as she could, then try to tickle their feet (they were hiding under the couch with their feet out) and say happily "Surprise!"

That led to laughter instead of the awful piercing shriek, which was a delightful change!

What I've tried to explain to our girls is that we don't decorate for Halloween because we don't like things that are dark and scary and we don't celebrate them. If a person wants to hand out candy to children and delights in their creative choices and is happy giving them treats, I love that heart.
If a person delights in scaring children and waits outside their house so they can frighten them by pretending to be a mannequin in the yard, I really dislike that heart.
When it comes to October 31st, I have a joy in my heart because I have a darling nephew who was born that day. I celebrate his life!
Though I won't decorate my home, my goal is to discern the heart rather than pretend that a day is not there just because I don't like part of it. I want to teach my children to celebrate joy and surprise and wonder. Costumes can enhance that lesson, we can minister to other families who don't know that joy, and I don't want to tell my children that the reason we can't do what they perceive as fun is because Jesus wouldn't do it.
They're not old enough to get into the deep discussions that I said I'd avoid in this post.
Age-appropriate discussions aside, I am not trick-or-treating with them just because it's too cold on October 31st to be outdoors! So, we'll most likely be going to a local church carnival/harvest party and let them have fun and be kids and save the grown-up discussions for a little later.

Candy corn, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your outlook here, Tammy. It definitely was refreshing and thoughtful. Your speaking with your children to encourage happy type play rather than frightening made me very happy as well. With the shadows of darkness that would like to cover our children today through media, carried over into children's play, and unfortunately, through horrible acts of violence within today's society, it is refreshing to see a young mother wanting LIGHT rather than DARK to enter her children's lifes. Cuddos, great mother! May you continue to instill these positive character traits as your children mature and grow. You will reap the rewards many times over.