“Fall”, “Harvest”, “Autumn”, & “Reformation”, these are all acceptable terms to use for this season. But have you ever noticed how the word “Halloween” can evoke lots of different reactions within Christian circles.
I’ll never forget the first time I emailed a MOP’s group about doing a potential Halloween costume exchange before our church’s Harvest Festival. Wow! I got several very angry emails from other leaders who stated that, “We do not celebrate that pagan holiday,” “I should never support celebrating such a horrible holiday,” & “Please refrain from using the word Halloween in a church email.” Guess I hit a nerve.
I understood for the most part where they were coming from. However, I was simply trying to save money and exchange costumes for the Harvest Festival. My mistake was to use the term “Halloween” costume in my email — a big “no-no” apparently within church leadership.
Lesson learned: Keep your mouth closed if you are a Christian who celebrates any part of Halloween.
So, what about you? Do you hate Halloween with every fiber of your body? Do you allow your kids to dress-up and do a bit of trick-or-treating? Do you go “all out” and decorate with the best of them? Do you love a good scare? Do you know what you are going to do this Halloween?
I’m somewhere in the middle. I really don’t like Halloween or what it stands for. I don’t like the focus on the undead, gore, evil, and witchcraft. Yet, I’m not totally against my kids dressing up to get candy from neighbors. Well, actually, I don’t like the whole candy thing that much. Forget about the candy rotting their teeth…it is MY waistline that is always going to be affected. Every year we went trick-or-treating, they’d come home with candy bags filled to the brim with delicious treats that I had to get out of the house before every mini-Snicker bar mysteriously disappeared.
Our “Halloween” has taken different forms each year. Some years we only did church events like Trunk-or-Treat or a Harvest Festival. Sometimes we’d just knock on a few neighbor’s doors. A few times we’d stay home and pass out candy. Once I even got totally inspired to handout little pumpkin themed Christian tracts with the candy. It told all about how our salvation is similar to a jack-o-lantern. God “scoops” out our icky insides and places His light in us to shine in the darkness. Super cute.
But these past few years, something started to change for me. I started realizing just how expensive Halloween was becoming. Our neighborhood is “the spot” for trick-or-treating. We can easily go through $100 worth of candy in a couple hours. Seriously! Most neighbors sit outside to pass out candy since the traffic is so heavy you don’t have time to close your door and sit down before your doorbell rings again.
Plus there was the costumes. We love dress-up costumes. But before Halloween prices aren’t cheap…especially when outfitting several kids.
Then I remembered a quote from Billy Graham. It said, “Give me five minutes with a person's checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.” Ouch! My checkbook was reflecting that I was supporting a holiday that I was actually fairly against. I felt like something had to change.
One of my very favorite Christmas movies is Christmas with the Kranks. It is based on a book written by John Grisham called Skipping Christmas. It’s all about a couple who opts to skip Christmas to save money so they can go on a cruise.
I was inspired. What if we “Skipped Halloween?” What would the neighbors think? Would would my kids think? What would God think?
We gave it a try.
I planned out a fun night at home for us of pizza, a good movie, and something yummy for dessert (I had to have something to convince them that this was worth trying). I explained to the kids that I was feeling convicted about how we were spending our money at this time of the year. Then I placed a World Vision Gift catalog in front of them. I told them about how we could do something really special that year and use the money to help others instead of just ourselves.
They were intrigued.
I gave them a dollar amount that we could spend. It was an guesstimate based on how much money we’d be saving by not doing our “normal” Oct. 31st activities. We flipped through the catalog, decided on what animals we’d send to families across the world from us, then placed the order. It was so cool!
They loved it!
We had a new tradition.
We were skipping Halloween.
Now, we do still visit pumpkin patches and buy pumpkins to either carve, paint, or decorate someway or another. We don’t “bah humbug” all the fun traditions around fall. But we save up the rest of our money and use it differently than I ever thought we would.
Each year we love discussing what animals we’ll get this time. My kids don’t even seem to miss all the trick-or-treating — as long as I supply them with pizza and a movie. 🙂
Now I know that most of you have your fun plans already set for this Halloween. But this is just some “food for thought” for next Oct. 31st.
Money saving tip:
We still love dressing up throughout the year. Waiting until after Halloween means that most stores have discounts on their left-over costumes. Party City, Target, & Walmart all have cheap prices post-Halloween. I’m sure those super stores that pop up only at Halloween lower their prices, too. But I just can’t bring myself to shop at them. Just their signs make me cringe.