Dave and I have come full circle on the “how should Christian families handle Halloween” debate. As our children grew we processed through several phases: From dressing up and trick-or-treating (reserved acceptance), to participating in the biblically-based ‘Fall Festival’ at church (Christian alternative), to going to friends’ homes for parties (controlled exposure), to skipping the whole thing by taking the kids out to dinner (avoidance), then back to celebrating with family and friends, costumes and trick-or-treating (happy acceptance). We did not know what was the “right” thing to do so we simply did the best we could. Just as the kids were growing in “wisdom and stature,” Dave and I were also growing as disciples. Over the years, our kids changed, the opportunities changed, and our attitudes toward Halloween changed (more than once). What worked for our family when they were toddlers, was different than what worked during elementary, middle school and high school. We started with carefully walking the kids around the cul-de-sac and ended several years later with inviting family and friends over for Frito-chili-pie, then sending all the kids off to trick-or-treat on their own while the parents stayed behind to socialize and answer the door. This year, my 22-year old (who still loves cosplay) is throwing a murder mystery dinner party for her friends.
If your kids are like mine, they have no reservations about Halloween. If you are like me, you may wonder if it is appropriate or spiritually “risky” to celebrate it. Regardless of your position, Halloween is an opportunity to talk with your kids about what you believe and why. It is OK to celebrate it and it is OK to avoid it. It OK to not have all the answers and it is OK to change your mind.
Several years ago, Asbury started hosting Harvest Hayday for the community, so I decided to research the topic more thoroughly. I concluded Halloween is one of the best opportunities we have for helping others follow Jesus (and “others” included our daughters). It is the second most popular holiday in the U.S. (second to Christmas) and is especially adaptable for families. You may be starting from a different place or come to a different conclusion, but the beautiful thing about Methodism (in general) and Asbury (specifically) is the tremendous grace we experience as we, the parents, attempt to sort out such challenges. The church is not here to tell us what to think, but rather to help us think—about what is best for our families. We want to raise our children to be lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ, but to be honest, we are learning as we go. And that’s OK, too.
If you would like more background on Halloween, how it is connected to the Church, the Christian calendar, and the opportunities it affords, pick up a booklet at the Harvest Hayday table starting October 11 or online.