The 21st Amendment
When I was a little girl, my parents chose not to celebrate Halloween. Quite simply, it was regarded as the pagan-ist of pagan holidays; mostly, folks called it Satan’s holiday. I remember we all dressed up one year and went to a “Harvestfest” at our church, and one of us behaved so badly that we were all instantly carted straight back home. I think I even remember one of my parents saying what a horrible idea it had been in the first place. While I have not departed from the foundations of my faith, built when I was young, there are some elements of Christian tradition that vary from group to group that I have reexamined in adulthood. Halloween is one of them.
Having not been raised celebrating this holiday, I did what many kids who aren’t allowed to do certain things and are too afraid to go against their parents do: I decided that I didn’t want to celebrate stupid old Halloween anyway. I never got into dressing up, didn’t care about trick-or-treating and certainly never ventured into a haunted house. So when I became an adult, finding a costume or going to a party just wasn’t on my radar. Really and truly, I never had missed celebrating Halloween.
Then I had my baby. And my sisters had babies. And all of a sudden, I’m on a mission to find the cutest costume ever created and trying to plan as many public outings as possible to showcase said costume on, of course, the cutest baby ever created.
Even now, I could take it or leave it for myself, but I want her to be able to do it. I want her to get to dress up and play with her friends and bob for apples or fish for candy or do whatever it is they do at Halloween parties for kids. And I feel kind of guilty about that.
The question I ask myself is this: why is it so difficult to change what we think about something we were raised to believe? My parents weren’t crazy snake-handlers, they didn’t relentlessly beat the fear into us, they were just normal conservative Christian parents who decided what they believed about certain influences of our society (ask me about secular music some time…) and held to those beliefs as they raised their children. I think in this situation, they made a decision to abstain from something they saw as potentially harmful or dangerous. And because I experienced no negative impact from abstaining, maybe I’m afraid that there actually could be harm or danger in lifting the ban, so to speak. Or maybe I’m reluctant to imply that my parents were wrong in how they raised us. (These same parents, by the way, are chomping at the bit every year to see our kids in their cute costumes and send them home with handfuls of candy.) But really, I think the bottom line is this: my parents were doing what they believed was the wisest thing to do in the pursuit of raising children who would love Jesus. And it worked. They raised 4 daughters who love Jesus.
And now, finally, it hits me: celebrating or not celebrating Halloween is not what made that happen. Jesus made that happen. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some butterfly wings and a pair of antennae to hunt down.