Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Happier Halloween

I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like Halloween.  Of course I did when I was a kid because who doesn't want to dress up and get lots of candy?  In those days Halloween was just a night in October where we dressed up in our costume pj's - yes, Sears used to sell costumes that doubled as pj's - and we drove around to a few houses that we knew and got a small amount of candy. Here are some pictures of my sister and I.

As we got older we would go to a family friend's neighborhood, which was much better suited for walking, and stock up on treats there.  Either way, the holiday was a minor event. The scariest costumes were that of a witch with a pointy hat or possibly a kid dressed up as a ghost with a sheet over his head.  This is not true today.

My true dislike for Halloween began a few years after Emily and James were born.  They were about 3 and 2 respectively and we were on our usual morning trip to our local grocery store in early October when all of a sudden both of the kids started crying and cowering in the grocery cart.  I looked over to see one of the creepiest scariest Halloween displays on the aisle next to the baby food and diapers.  Seriously??  Halloween wasn't for several weeks and this display was something I would expect to see in a horror movie, not a grocery store.  For the rest of the month I had to find ways to avoid several stores, displays, and even decorated houses.  I know some people love the "scary stuff" but my kids did not and neither did I. 

The above was taken before the grocery store experience, but you can see on James's face he was having none of it!

As the years past we found several church functions to attend and the kids dressed up in many adorable costumes.  We tried to avoid the objectionable aspects to the holiday and found clever ways to thin-out their candy loot so they wouldn't eat too much junk. 

Once they started elementary school it was even more difficult to shelter them from what was now clearly the "Season of Halloween".  Starting on October 1st the teachers decorated the classroom and bulletin boards with witches and ghosts, read scary themed books, and planned parties and costume parades.  While Christmas displays became more and more controversial, Halloween displays became something to truly celebrate.  When the kids asked about the origins of Halloween, my husband and I started reading up on it. Nothing we read about brought honor and glory to God.  I knew we weren't practicing paganism, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right either.  From that point forward we started to differentiate Christmas and Easter, which are holidays that our family celebrates to honor God, from Halloween, which although has pagan roots that we don't celebrate, we do participate in some of the harmless traditions like dressing up and Trick or Treating. 

Now that we homeschool and the kids are older, they really seem to understand that there is an ugly side to Halloween that we shun but also a redeeming side where we can outreach to the community through church events as well as on our own by meeting neighbors and fellowshipping with friends.

I haven't always felt this way, but thanks to a reminder from one of my good friends who invited us to Trick or Treat with them this year, I realize that the holiday is what you make of it which can be either good or bad. Having said that... it didn't start out so well.

Costume + teen = drama.  This year I was adamant about not spending a lot of money on store bought costumes.  My youngest had several choices of previously worn costumes (never seen by this group), but those weren't good enough. "Who wants to dress up as the same thing twice?" she argues. " I want to be Little Red Riding Hood," she declares.  My son had a very reasonable suggestion of being a cowboy this year. He doesn't have a hat or boots, but I didn't think that would be too hard to get.  My oldest wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  She had a blue dress that with some tweaking would work.  All we needed was some shoes and a few accessories.  Off we went to our local Halloween store. 

Spirit: nothing. Goodwill: nothing.   Target: nothing but an expensive red cape that was too big.  Walmart: nothing. So we drove 20 minutes to another area.  Party City: a few items, but expensive.  Halloween City:  a cowboy hat for $20. Not happening. Salvation Army: nothing.  Out of desperation we went to Hobby Lobby for fabric. I figured maybe I could make something, but there were two problems. First, I don't sew all that well and second, fabric is expensive.  I left the store with the girls in tears, James exhausted (although a good sport), and me fuming mad because I had wasted several hours and we had nothing to show for it.

The girls, recognizing my disgust and realizing they weren't going to get what they want this year, quickly became creative and starting putting together 50's outfits from clothes they already had.  Brilliant!  Use stuff we have and make the best of it!  What a novel idea!  Soon we had James on board and eventually they convinced Dennis and I to join in the fun.  We didn't have the best costumes this year, but it was good enough and we spent very little.

We met up with our friends at a local park and we took so many pictures you might think we were photographing famous kids. The girls had no problem striking poses, but the boys just stood there biding their time.

Of course us moms got in on the action too.

The rest of the evening was really quite nice. The kids ran from house to house while us adults got to hang back and socialize.  Aside from a swarm of mosquitos at dusk and a few wrong turns it was truly a wonderful evening.  I think the kids had a great time too. They definitely landed a lot of candy which a large portion of will be "bought back" by us and then donated to the troops overseas. 

All in all, this was a much Happier Halloween!!

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