Yesterday, I took our girls on a "nature walk" in our neighborhood to collect smooth rocks, colored flowers, and interesting sticks.
As we walked, we passed homes festively decorated for Halloween. Our 4-year-old suddenly pointed at an adjacent house and whispered in my direction, "Are they celebrating bad things?"
I thought about how to answer. "Every family celebrates holidays in different ways. In our family, we choose not to celebrate death and evil." She seemed satisfied by that response.
But I'm not sure I am satisfied with it.
It's a fine line - teaching children what is right, while simultaneously encouraging them to THINK for themselves and to love [instead of judge]. I know I don't get it right all of the time, falling off the line to one side or the other.
But how do you explain Halloween to a child? I want to tell them that it makes my heart ache to see dead bodies, murderers, and disfigured faces because these are not laughing matters. I say a little, but then I hold my tongue. I can only weigh down my 4-year-old's tender-heart so much. Sometimes I think she talks too much of death already (because we often discuss the grim realities of poverty and disease worldwide).
I didn't go trick-or-treating until I was in high school (my five siblings & I weren't allowed and now I sort of understand why).
We have taken our 4-year-old the past two years because we have good neighbors and it's convenient. When we took her for the first time at age 2, she would ask after each house, "Can we go to the next STORE?"
Although we do have happy memories from previous years, way-down-deep I don't really like trick-or-treating. The homes are adorned with skeletons, bloody faces, and gravestones. The costumes range from fun and fancy to downright frightening and often ridiculously immodest. The darkness is thick in the air and the end result of the night is mediocre candy that has been on grocery store shelves for months.
I see the fun in dressing up, but...I'd rather do something different on Oct. 31st.
We're a young family so we're still figuring out our traditions; making our own way. I'm hoping that you'll give me your ideas so that next year we'll have something new to do - something that is full of light and hope.
How do YOU explain Halloween to your child(ren)? What do you do on Oct. 31st? Do you go to a church festival? Hit the streets for trick-or-treating? Celebrate the oft-forgotten Reformation Day instead?
* Photos (top to bottom): pumpkin (2006), cheerleader (2008), little miss muffet (2009)