By: Shannon Popkin
Halloween is the time of year my boys dress up as a Cowboy and Zorro and pose with their weapons pointed at each other, big smiles on their faces, so I can take pictures. Even my daughter, who is in high school still dresses up and goes out with her friends to collect free candy from the neighbors. Then they all come back and sort their loot in the family room. It’s tradition.
We tell our kids that it’s fine to celebrate the good parts about Halloween—the candy and the dressing up and spending time with friends and neighbors. In fact, if we chose to stay inside with the porch lights off, we feel like we’d miss out on connecting with neighbors, since Halloween is one of the only nights of the year that everyone’s outside!
So we celebrate the good, but we refuse to celebrate the evil—anything that makes light of Satan or his dark forces. This is the criterion we use for a lot of things. Take movies, for instance. If a movie is not distinctly ‘Christian’, yet celebrates ‘good’ with a character who is brave or selfless or kind, we tell our kids they may freely enjoy it. On the other hand, if a G-rated movie celebrates greed or rebellion or disrespect to parents, that’s not one we watch. We want our home to be one that celebrates only what God says is good.
So for us, the candy and the costumes make the cut. Anything that seems to celebrate evil or death doesn’t. You won’t find witches or ghosts or skeletons or blood at our house. Since death is part of the curse, we don’t want to make light of, or celebrate it. Instead, we decorate with pumpkins and colorful leaves.
Now, we have friends who have skeletons swinging in the breeze on their doorstep, and we have other friends who keep the porch light off and the door locked on Halloween. And like with all things, we trust that these parents are following what they sense God has distinctly called their family to. And so, we train our kids to be respectful of this.
When our kids were preschoolers, I would say, “Sammy’s mom and dad don’t let him dress up for Halloween, and so when we go to his house today, you may not talk about your costume or trick-or-treating, ok? We want for Sammy to obey his mom and dad cheerfully, right? Because that will make him most happy.”
My husband and I have yet to find another set of parents who are perfectly aligned with us in the choices they make as parents. And yet, we have dozens of Christian couples whom we claim as great friends! We’ve found that being dogmatic about our Christian choices only creates friction. So we respect differences, and we teach our kids to do the same.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And we will remember that another house–where the Lord is served–might look different than ours on Halloween.
SHANNON POPKIN is a writer and speaker from Grand Rapids, MI. She and her husband Ken have been married for 17 years, and in that time their kids (ages 15, 13, and 9) have diligently plucked them clean of pride, but have also filled their nest with deep joy and satisfaction. Connect with Shannon at her blog, Tiny Paragraphs