As this time of year rolls around, it brings back memories of the journey the Lord has led Steve and I on concerning Halloween. I thought it might be appropriate to tell you this story. Hopefully, it will encourage those of you facing decisions in this area, and bless those who have already made them.
As a young mother, I wanted my children to enjoy the same positive Halloween experiences and memories that I treasured from my past. However, since accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior toward the end of my college days, some doubts began to creep into my mind as I viewed Halloween decorations with a new perspective. I discounted those doubts, though, being sure we could keep our children dressed appropriately and apply our own values to this particular night.
The first Halloween our little ones were of an age to trick-or-treat (back in the early 1980s) I had made them very cute costumes. Out we trooped on Halloween night to the “safe” close neighbors, determined to make memories as we went. It wasn’t long until I had one child in my arms and two more clinging to my leg begging to return home. The lure of free candy did not overpower the fear in their hearts as they looked at the other trick-or-treaters.
Steve and I began to wonder if childhood Halloween memories were worth what was beginning, in our hearts, to feel like compromise. What kind of memories were we building anyway? The Lord used the children’s fears, as well as much discussion and prayer between Steve and me, to convict us. We decided that it wasn’t right for our children to be out trick-or-treating–participating in a “holiday” that focuses on evil. Verses such as the following would stand out to us as we were praying about this decision. Romans 12:9, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 16:19, “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Once we made the “no trick-or-treating” decision, we still had to deal with children who would come to the door on Halloween. Surely, this would be an opportunity to witness to them by handing out tracts along with the candy. We could involve our children in choosing tracts. Plus, we would still be building warm, childhood memories by letting them hand out the goodies and tracts.
The year was now 1983, and Halloween had once again rolled around. The doorbell rang. Excitedly, I asked Nathan (who was six years old at the time) if he would like to open the door and give the children outside each a piece of candy and a tract. After opening the door, he quickly handed the container back to me and ran to his Daddy. It didn’t take long to figure out why. The “characters” facing me were frightful looking at best.
Despite our realization of the evil focus of Halloween and our own children’s innocent hearts’ response to all of this, Steve and I continued to look for ways not to have Halloween be a disappointment to our children. We didn’t want them to miss out on anything that the other children were doing that was fun and exciting.
Our next attempts revolved around getting together with like-minded families and going out for dinner on Halloween. The first time we did this, the waitress was dressed up like a witch! The next year we phoned ahead requesting that our waitress not be dressed up as anything evil, but of course that couldn’t change what other customers and waitresses were wearing. Nor could we avoid our children seeing the trick-or-treaters on the streets as we went to and from the restaurant.
Finally, the Lord got our full attention. He gave us a birthday on the 31st! About this same time, Steve and I were realizing that we wanted to completely and fully shelter our children and ourselves from the “evil” sights that permeated Halloween. From 1992 on, we have been happily content closing the blinds, turning off the porch lights, and having a birthday party every October 31st!
Our younger children didn’t even know the word “Halloween” for many years. When the now-popular Halloween lights began to go up, they thought they were Christmas lights. Steve does not take the younger children with him to do the nursing home ministry during the month of October because they would have to stare at evil figures hung on the curtains behind him for an entire hour. We encourage the children to look away from the grotesque and evil.
We no longer feel our children are missing out on anything. We don’t discuss and pray about ways to make it work for our children to participate in any aspect of Halloween. We are happy to shelter them from as many of the sights and influences of Halloween as we possibly can. We don’t mind them associating Halloween with Satan and having a disdain for it. When asked by a neighbor or a store clerk what a child was going to be for Halloween, we haven’t received negative feedback as the children say, “We don’t do Halloween.” We feel secure in our Halloween decisions. However, it did take us about fifteen years of Halloween experiences, conviction, prayer, and discussion to come to this point!
Perhaps the Lord is taking you along a similar path concerning Halloween as He has our family. I want to encourage you not to feel strange or alone if you decide to spend that night in your house making it look from the outside like no one is at home. Even though you likely won’t have a birthday to celebrate, it can still be an evening of family togetherness. Stand firm on being separate if that is what the Lord has put on your heart. Your children aren’t missing out on special memories. Instead, you are building other memories that will be just as strong and of much more positive eternal value!