Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Horror

Last year I wrote my thoughts on Halloween and our new tradition of NOT trick or treating. This year when the topic came up, Ben REALLY wanted to dress up and Luke still wanted NO part in the holiday despite the fact that he and his brother are dressed like superheroes, cowboys, ninjas, etc more often than not. My fondness for the holiday was thwarted by a sucker punch while walking through a nearby mall and glancing over at the Halloween store to see a playground of dead baby corpses mechanically spinning and moving around.  I literally nearly lost my mind right there in that mall.  At what point have we become so desensitized that mechanical dead baby corpses is even remotely funny or even okay?  Honestly, I don't think I am easily offended but that display brought me to my knees.  I digress...we have super fun kids with super great imaginations and dressing up can be fun!

We debated what to do. We contemplated taking the little ones to a few houses and one of us just staying back and playing games or something with Luke. Then we were invited to a local church community celebration and figured it might be just the thing to allow Ben to dress up and Luke to be comfortable with things. At the last minute we decided to get everyone in costume and head out.

I will say that I think the church did a wonderful job reaching out to the community, providing hot dogs, snacks, beverages, games, and just stretching out a friendly hand and showing love. It really was a great event held by the church and my negative feelings toward the holiday and the events that followed had NOTHING to do with the church's efforts.

The event was held in a local business parking lot.  Trick or Treaters were encouraged to join in the fun and i was so impressed by how many actually did.  I did leave though feeling disheartened and frustrated.  As I stood there looking around at all of the little ones running around I literally felt sick as I saw five year olds in fishnets, sexy seven year old devils, and more slutty (elementary aged) vampires than I care to admit.  We also saw many little ones covered in blood and dressed as zombies, scary movie stars, and vampires.  In the car on the way home, Luke asked if we could once again bypass the holiday next year as he saw several costumes that bothered him.

I sat last night with a broken heart praying and wondering what has happened to our culture.  When did we become so desensitized to things?  When did corsets, fishnet stockings, and fake cleavage become okay for sweet young girls.  Innocence is lost so early these days and kids are no longer able to just be kids.  Gone are the days of homemade costumes, superheros, princesses, and farm animals. I will note that I did see several REALLY creative and amazing costumes, but the vast majority were far from even PG rated.

I guess in the end this is a holiday, that for our family, we are just going to let go of.  Even with good intentions, I had to explain a few things to my boys about modesty and appropriateness that I wasn't prepared to go into detail on at their ages.  I don't feel this is stuff that should even be on their radar at 8 and 5.  I am all for going out as a family and sharing the love of God with everyone and I thought this was what we would do, and I hope that we accomplished that goal.  I do believe that God calls us to be the salt and the light in a world so confused and dark that values are lost and innocence is gone far too soon.  For my family however, I think we are done.

While I don't believe any day can belong to anyone but God, Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”  I think we are called to glorify Him every day, even on Halloween.  I think where we get blurred is where we start seeing cute witches, wizards, devils, vampires, etc...these things are evil.  When we start to make them look cool or innocent, we blur the difference between good and evil for our kids.    Ephesians 5:15-16 says. “Be careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”  Every day is our chance to share God with the world.  We also must, however, be careful how we live – not unwisely conforming to the culture (Romans 12:2), but shining the light that we have before men (Matthew 5:16).  Be a light in a dark world!  And I admit, I am struggling between wanting to lock my kids up for the month of October and shield them from all of it ( I am kidding of course...kind of) and wanting to get out there and try to be a light, just as this particular church was doing.

Sometimes I struggle because while I know we are called to be that light to a dark world, I also know that my kids are still innocent and while they do need information and need to be taught to live in but not of this world, I wonder if they are ready to really understand...I am not sure I have equipped them yet for this.  I hope that one day they can go out and shine their light, but right now they are so impressionable and easily confused, I need to be sure I am setting a solid foundation.

Parenting is tough stuff.  The responsibility of shepherding these amazing little people is immense and I just want to be sure I am doing all I can to train them in the way they should go.  I don't want to shield them from everything but I want to be the one introducing them and teaching them in small bite sized increments as they build their foundation.  Satan is on the prowl and I don't want to give him a foot in the door.  Halloween is just one of those issues that I find myself so conflicted on.  I am praying that God gives me clarity on what he wants our family to do, because I don't want to hole up in the house and miss an opportunity to share His love, but I also want to keep our sights on what is good and noble and true.

So tell me...how do you handle Halloween? 


Devon said...

I hear ya. I seriously shudder when I see people dress their young kids up as devils. Makes me so sad.

We do Trunk or Treat at our church and it is awesome! No scary costumes allowed....Every single costume I saw last night was in good taste and G rated. It was a great environment for our girls to enjoy the night.

We played games and did crafts, visited with friends and just had a good time. I'm pretty sure we will never do the trick or treating - Riley scares very easily as well.

((hugs)) Friend. I hope you find something that works for your family! What about you hosting a fun fall festival party for your friends? I am sure you are not alone in your feelings....

Anonymous said...

Well, you know what we do. :) Actually THIS is what actually happens with the Pettis kids on halloween night:

*We don't dress up, well they do ALL the time, but not special for halloween. #1. I don't craft, so it's EXPENSIVE to buy for 5 kids. #2. Josh was raised in a non-halloween family, and didn't miss it.

* We recorded Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin, cuddled up with hot chocolate, and watched. It kind of kicks off our holiday season.

* We do NOT hide in our house, we aren't AFRAID of halloween. In fact, we look forward to trick or treaters coming for candy...though no one ever comes to our house. LOL.

I kind of wish that we did something with MOPS at the Fed where we could trunk or treat, and the costumes had to be G rated. That's a good idea.

Unknown said...

I'm sad you had that experience, Kristy. Here, at Idlewild's Halloboo, Zoo Boo, our Church's Trunk or Treat, Preschool Halloween Parties, and our Neighborhood Trick or Treat, (All the events we participated in), I saw very few costumes that I thought were inappropriate.

I had seen the "sexy" tween/toddler costumes in the catalogs before the festivities so I was sortof on the look-out for them, but really didn't see too many.

I did see some of the "sexy" costumes (particularly the candy corn witch) made more appropriate with undershirts and regular stockings, tennis shoes and not-high heels, etc. Not much in the way of slutty make-up, etc.

We mostly saw cute costumes and superheroes.

I'm not sure why our experiences were so different. That's so disappointing for you and your children to have a terrible experience. Halloween COULD be a really fun, cute holiday if people would be just a little bit considerate of others and a little bit more conscious of the message they send in the ways they dress their children.

That stinks.

Becky said...

None of my adult kids celebrate Halloween - interesting because I allowed them to trick or treat. Each year we have a chili supper with a lot of fun things. One of my grandchildren, age 7, is so offended by Halloween and I had to gently talk to her about using it as a time to share her faith and no to be so critical of people who do celebrate. I have a lot of grandchildren and they are delighted to simply be together. Their parents aren't into sweets anyway so they really don't know what they are missing. They dress up a lot here which is fun. It is tough to know what to do.

Me said...

We do Halloween...it never occurred to me not to. I am not really into it. My 12 year old was an angel, might have been a death angel now that I think about it. She put the fishnets on with her converse high tops.

I just don't take it all that seriously I guess. Of course I teach junior high so I see all sorts of things everyday.

Unknown said...

Our church does a Drive in Movie night. The kids all make boxcars (literally cars out of cardboard boxes) and they can dress up if they want- in "nice" costumes. My kids usually match their car (pink cadillac w/ poodle skirt etc.) and we go park the car in the fellowship hall, hit the consession stand for hotdogs, juice boxes, popcorn and bags of candy and then we all watch the movie. They love it!

Jamie Lea said...

We don't like halloween at our house. My kids are allowed to choose whether or not to attend school that day. My son chooses not to, my daughter chooses to. We attend a nice church function in the evening which is not only tons of fun, but also shares the Gospel with everyone there. They do not even call it a halloween event, they call it, The Blast. My kids all decided to dress up this year, but some years they don't.
I totally agree with you about the risque costumes. I did see a couple of those even at the church event.
God Bless!

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

I am so with you,and have been quite disheartened by seeing the loss of innocence in the costumes recently. Just heartbreaking to see children dressed up in costumes that glorify violence and death...and those that rob little girls of modesty. In truth, I've been struggling in general with the lack of modesty in girls and women. As I get older...and my boys grow into men...I am ever more aware of the way women dress and present themselves. It is hard to understand why some families want to dress their children this way.

And, what you shared about the babies is horrifying. I am disgusted and left speechless at reading that.

As far as what we do...it varies. Some years, we have done a Halloween Alternative at a church...participated in a church Trunk or Treat...some years we have gone trick or treating....and some years we have stayed home. It is always difficult for me, as well. Because I do like the idea of children dressing up and using their imagination. And, as a parent that believes grace is important...especially standing on this side of motherhood...with an older teenager...I don't want to take all the fun out of childhood.

It is a hard balance. But, this year, we did go trick or treating...and I was saddened by what I saw. That "being desensitized" is not what I want for our family. As hard as it sometimes is, there's something to be said for being set apart...even if it's hard.

It sounds as if your son is quite convicted about it...and seems the Holy Spirit may be leading you to do something different, and honor that. Maybe your family could do some fun things at home. There could still be costumes and fun games...but nice G rated costumes and a gathering of families and/or friends that are willing to comply with that. Or maybe do something different all together. I am all about reaching out to show love and not hiding our light...but maybe there are times when we should nestle in a bit, too.

Praying the Lord will lead your decision and give you perfect peace on this tough issue. It's hard to make these decisions as moms...and we often wonder if we've done the right thing. One thing I can say on this side of mothering is that the things that overwhelmed me when my children were young...the decisions I agonized over...none of them have meant as much as the way my husband and I have quietly lived our lives (if that makes any sense...it's the stuff that I thought was small...stuff I never knew they noticed...like working hard, doing the right thing..walking the walk in the moments you would never think they were looking)...and love and grace cover much of what we missed.

asplashofsunshine said...

I don't like the scary part of Halloween either. I think it is a day that people have taken and ran with it however they have chosen. My kids are not allowed to have blood or, what I interpret as, negative/violent costumes. Each year my kids have had fun being a monkey, candy corn, Tinkerbell, Army man, well, you get the idea. Our Tinkerbell wasn't slutty though... :)

As for the dead baby display, that is horrible!!!! No other words for it, just horrible. So sorry you had to experience that.

No matter how you celebrate, I'm glad you had fun with the kiddos.

Angela said...

I feel like I could have written this blog post. Thanks for sharing your heart!

Inkling said...

My hubby and I talked about this very thing this year because our little guy would be with my parents who get a few trick or treaters, and he's old enough now to notice those kinds of costumes. Even trying to check into the airport we had to deal with a totally gory and evil display of death at the Southwest counter. We ended up letting my dad answer the door and if the costume wasn't gory or wicked, we'd come around the corner and let our little guy join in the fun. But that's not really how I want to do things.

My friend tried out a new tradition this year by including candy and taking her kiddos to a hotel where they could swim and have fun while still enjoying the typical treats of the holiday.

It's a shame Halloween can't be as fun as it was when I was a kid - when there weren't gory costumes and church programs usually involved some pretty fun Bible costumes (Jonah IN the whale one year). I don't want to have to be legalistic, but I think for our family's sake we'll have to find our own tradition too. Our little guy is a sensitive soul and he can't even handle the commercials that came on during the World Series. So we'll probably have to wait until he's older to realize my hope of making Halloween a time to reach out to our neighbors.

Monica said...

When we struggled over what to do about Halloween, we chose that until we knew what we would do, we could not participate in things. It was just better to sit back and decide what we actually believed about it.
In the end we decided it was not a holiday our our family.
1st we tend to decide on things from the view point of "Does this honor God? or not?" What is the point behind All Hallows Eve? Does magic or the practice there of honor or offend the Almighty?
Once we answered those questions it became clear to us that this was not for us.
We do a lot of dress up play at home, and not too many sweets so; the kids don't even think they are missing out. Like Becky's granddaughter, I have to teach my children not to be too critical of people who chose to do things differently from us, and continually stand on Romans 14 for any area we are convicted that are not Biblical mandates.
I do feel we need to reach out to others, but we are to be doing that everyday.
October 31st does make a nice day to learn about and celebrate the Reformation :)
Sorry your experience was so rough.