Every year at this time my news feed is filled with Christians making their yearly declaration of disdain for Halloween; listing off the supposedly sanctified reasons why they’re opting-out and volunteering their kids in the process, as if protecting them from the dangerous, corrupting evils of the day.
And every year, I simply don’t get it.
It always makes me so very sad when I realize how small their God has become that His security and influence are somehow threatened by a third grader going door-to-door in zombie makeup, snagging free Charleston Chews.
Growing-up, Halloween was (dare I say it) a magical time; a time to become something that you weren’t for a couple of hours, a time to get soundly scared in a safe setting, a time to be a kid and be wild and be spoiled with a pillowcase packed with undeserved chocolate, and then to stuff said chocolate down one’s throat to the point of giddy, twitching, sugar-fueled hysteria.
It’s the stuff lifetime memories and massive dental bills are made of.
The fact that many Christians have found a way to make this the enemy of God and God’s people, just shows us how distracted we all are, how puny our religion has become, and how much we’ve lost the plot. That’s downright scary.
Christian Moms and Dads, if you’re truly afraid that the devil is going to get a foothold in your child’s life by a one-night free candy run through your subdivision, you haven’t taken a walk down their school hallways or heard their playground conversations or read their text messages lately.
There’s a truckload of stuff you should be fearful of out there for your kids; terrible, horrifying things that they are drowning in 365 days of the year: racism, poverty, gun violence, sexual pressure, bullying, domestic abuse, addiction, bigotry, depression, suicide, and divorce, just to name a few. These are the things to be terrified by and rail against.
I think maybe Halloween is actually a gift.
I think it’s a necessary escape from all this real evil.
I think it’s a chance to feel the weightless joy of imaginary terror and phony fear, instead of the worry and stress and impossible heaviness of the real nightmarish stuff they walk through every single day.
Some of the sweetest memories of my childhood were of this holiday, and they had nothing at all to do with demons or witchcraft or evil, but of being a kid and getting to act like one.
That’s why this Halloween I’ll be accompanying my children in the raucous, meandering flashlight parade through our neighborhood; braving faux graveyards and spray can spider webs and creepy animatronic demon babies, just to snag a few free (poorly named) “fun-sized” candy bars.
We’ll laugh and get scared (and secretly judge those giving out fruit snacks or popcorn balls) and then we’ll dump our ill-deserved booty out onto the living room floor (minus my fifteen percent “parent tax”) and we’ll watch a scary movie together or tell ghost stories.
And to us, it will be a holy, beautiful moment of a family being a family; making memories and enjoying the beauty of crisp Fall evenings, the divine gift of chocolate and peanut butter together, and yes even of creepy animatronic demon babies, who make us jump and then feel ridiculous for doing so.
Grace after all, is defined in Christianity as getting something wonderful that you do not deserve, simply for asking for it.
In light of this, consider October 31st a “fun-sized” token of God’s greatest gift, and maybe lighten up a little too while you’re at it. When you do so, you’re teaching your kids that fear isn’t always the right response.
If you insist on opting out, that’s okay too. It just means more candy for us!