Happy Hallo-won’t

In eight years of marriage, one issue has been a thorn in our sides, causing more partisan one-sidedness between us than Obamacare among Congressmen. What could it be? Parenting? Sex? Money? No, friends, the great issue on which we have been long divided is . . . Halloween. Yep, nothing gets us going like the orange and black, candy-coated, jack-o-lantern decorated night of revelry.

As a pastor, Daniel has always felt strongly that Halloween celebrates spiritual evil, something he devotes his life to opposing, and he just couldn’t condone allowing our children to join in the celebration. He couldn’t ignore the occult for the sake of the innocuous.  I, on the other hand, had been raised in a Christian household that believed the fun of costumes and trick-or-treating could be separated from the ghoul glorification and witchcraft, so I thought his objection was a molehill dressed up as a mountain. I just didn’t buy the “Christianese” definition of Halloween and thought we’d be perpetuating a Christian stereotype by boycotting Halloween festivities.

That is, until I found myself forced to confront Halloween firsthand. This time last year, I was fresh in the throws of raw, month-old grief over the death of my daughter. After a few weeks of being largely cooped up inside in mourning, I had to get out of the house, so I ventured out to the mall alone. Once there, the shining storefront windows I loved to peruse had all been half-eaten by the ghoulish faces and rotten flesh of the undead. Halloween decorations were everywhere, invading my senses, telling me death was scary and fear was fun. With my daughter’s death at the forefront of my mind, I was completely repulsed by what the world around me had to say about death.  For the first time in my life, I really saw the ugly face of Halloween. It was not, I realized, the innocent childhood holiday I had convinced myself it was. It was not about candy, or costumes, pumpkins, or pillowcases. Rather, it was a day that defined death in our culture. While I was trying to teach my children the hope and redemption of the heaven in which their sister now resided, the world was plastering her casket with advertisements for haunted houses and zombie costumes.

Death, by the standards of Halloween, is to be feared, and the dead, or undead, ugly, hideous creatures with no home or hope. Yet, as Christians, we are called to be a light in the darkness, the ones declaring the truth about death. Death is not the end but the beginning, through Jesus. His death means that we no longer need fear death, because we are more than the sum of our parts.  We are eternal souls residing in temporal bodies.  Everything I teach my children needs to be intentional, including what I tell them about life after death.  No longer ignorant to the message of Halloween, I cannot passively allow the world to contradict Jesus’ message of eternity to my children.

I suddenly realized that my husband’s mountain was no molehill after all.  He’d been right all along.  Right then, I decided that my family and I would never again celebrate Halloween. I care too much about helping my kids believe in the glory of heaven to sacrifice it on the altar of October 31st. Instead, we’ve decided to celebrate a day too-long overshadowed by its darker older sibling.  November 1st, All Saints’ Day, is a day devoted to upholding our belief in the hope of life after death, and it’s time we Christians claim this day. It embraces the beauty of death in celebrating the rebirth of those who’ve preceded us into heaven.  Halloween’s message of the darkness of death isn’t a lie – there is no hope in death for those who reject Christ.  But that’s not a message I’m willing to celebrate.  So I won’t.

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