“Halloween Schmalloween, this day belongs to the Lord and later we’re going to partyyyyyyy”
This was what I tweeted yesterday morning as I sat in the waiting area for my physio appointment. I have the most bizarre relationship/perspective on the 31st October. So many memories that make up to how I feel about it.
Before The Husband and I married, both being over-analysers, we disussed everything that we thought would come up in our marriage. Money, children, ministry, gender roles, pets, did I mention money? So we were smug enough to think we were a step ahead of anything that could catch us off guard. We were married in the July, and were soon packing up our rented house to move into our own in the late atumn. Enter 31st October.
It was, as you’d expect, dark outside and we were probably busy packing boxes when one of us realised it was halloween. Oh. We’d never really talked over how we’d handle trick-or-treaters. We decided quickly that we both hated halloween and everything it represented. But do we answer the door and politely explain that we don’t celebrate halloween? Do we give out sweets anyway? Do we blatantly show we’re at home and ignore the door bell? Or do we turn out ALL lights and skulk around in the dark?
Yes. As fully grown adults, we decided to do the latter. It saw us commando-crawling (with a bark of “get-down!”) across the floor each time the door bell rang and reaching up in the dark to peep through a window to see if they’d gone. We were ready for those teenage ratbags with eggs. Only they didn’t come. We ended up taking on mission-“get-down!” for sweet young kids, most of whom were accomplanied by an adult. I know. The mind boggles. We look back now and laugh so much about it, the funniest part being that it was no laughing matter at the time. It was something we were literally working through as we lived it.
we tried out the strategy that the inlaws use and kept a bowl of sweets by the front door with a sign saying that we don’t celebrate halloween but please take a sweet. Its seemed to work for them. Only The Husband paced the floor all evening, peeking through the blinds to make sure the kids were not taking more than their share of sweets! I thought the man was going to have a heart attack…!
And then five years ago, on 31st October I miscarried. The story is told here on my brand-new-not-even-really-ready-to-be-put-out-there secondary blog where I will be piling all my mummy stuff so not to overload it here. Even now, when October 31st rolls round I feel the sting off loss.
Last year I was sitting thinking about halloween, probably feeling a little wistful over my own experiences. But I know I was feeling frustrated that children were being exposed to horrible stuff on halloween. There has been times when I’ve had to walk out of a shop with my girls because the decoration has been so frightening. I just don’t see what’s fun about death, horror and giving children nightmares. But at the same time there’s no denying there’s a pull to it; the promise of sweets when trick-or-treating and the opportunity to see your friends at a halloween party.
It’s not enough to say ‘no’ to our children with Halloween. Telling kids to stay away from something just makes the mystery of it all the more appealing (unless you’re as sensible as Chloe who would not touch anything scary with a barge pole). If we’re trying to guide our children from something unhelpful we have to provide an alternative, so there’s no sense of missing out.
So last year we launched the Starlight Party at Emmanuel Church, and the church was packed full of kids and their family from both within the church family and from the local community. Last night we celebrated the Starlight Party’s second birthday. I felt like my heart would swell out of my rib cage, I was so thankful for a team of about 30, that worked tirlessly with smiles on their faces.
And we pulled it off! Kids loved it and their family loved it. I can’t say I’m a little relieved the planning is behind me but it without a doubt it was completely worth it.