Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween


I meant to write this yesterday, but after I got home from work my head was so stuffed that all I wanted to do was sleep. You see, for Halloween at the grocery store we set up a spook house for the little kids in the area. The parents can bring their kids down and have a bit of fun. Plus, after braving our incredibly terrifying spook house, the tots get a bag of candy. It's fun and safe...and hopefully the folks will spend some money on groceries.
Since we had to use the cart room for the spook house, my task was to stand outside and hand out carts to the customers. It was cold. I had to stand relatively still for many, many hours, so I wasn't working up any body heat. By the end of the day my head felt like a balloon. Hence, no topical post.

I grew up in Sacramento, California. The weather in October is significantly different in Sacramento than it is here in the Twin Cities. As a little kid, Halloween in Cali was a blast. The whole neighborhood got into it and decked out their houses. My mom was a genius at coming up with the coolest home made costumes. One year she designed one that looked just like our dog...snout and all. One year I got to be a space alien and was wrapped head to toe in tinfoil. (I wouldn't recommend that. The foil rips easily, and in the mean time you sweat like a maniac.) It was fun. How could a little kid not enjoy something like that?
(Oddly enough, since I have never had much of a sweet tooth, %90 of my candy would still be around come Easter. %90 of my Easter candy would still be their for the next Halloween, too.)
Flash forward to my first Halloween in Minnesota. I was psyched to deck out the yard, and totally get into it all. I had bought some dry ice and was going to build a steaming moat by our front door. To my surprise, the weather dropped to about 34 degrees that evening. So much for decking out the yard. Let's face it, Halloween in Minnesota kind of stinks.

I had another surprise to come my way after I tried to combine Minnesota with Halloween. I asked my church Youth Group if we were going to have a Halloween party and all I got were dirty looks. I was told a variation of "We don't do that. We have Harvest Festivals." They were essentially the same thing, just a different title. (So who are we really fooling?)
Years later, when I was a Youth Director at a church, I decided to have a Halloween party. The day of the sleepover, a mother called me up to protest the party. She told me that Halloween is Satan's day. If I held that party, I would be honoring Lucifer. Believe it or not, this was one of the rare occasions where I actually held my tongue. (Shocking, I know.) I suppose it didn't help that I had rented the demonically inspired movie "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," to be viewed by gullible teenagers. (I still highly recommend that movie if you enjoy kitsch.)
All these years later, I now understand that Halloween has some less-than-honorable origins. In fact, a friend of mine sent me a link to explain why his family won't be "Celebrating" Halloween anymore. Take a look if you so desire.

If you happen to be a practitioner of Wicca (White Witchcraft), or any other neo-pagan religion, Halloween is a special day for you. I was told by some Wiccans I met years ago, that on Halloween you are supposed to dance naked around a bonfire. If that is the case, I highly recommend moving to Sacramento for said nude dancing. Dancing in the buff at Halloween in Minnesota is a tough go. Instead, I would strongly suggest conversion. Jesus never forces anyone to dance if they don't feel like it. In fact, the last Believer to show any skin while dancing for the Lord was King David.

Now I don't want to ruffle anyone's feathers, but I would like to toss my own two cents in about Halloween. Even as a little kid I had a gut level understanding of the difference between religious, national and secular holidays. For me, Halloween was nothing more than a chance for parents to show off the costumes that had for their kids, and for kids to play with their friends and get candy for doing so. In my case, it was also a chance to revel in the mythology of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Great Pumpkin. When I was 11, I actually snuck off to run through a construction site and re-enact the WW1 Flying Ace's escape from behind enemy lines. I never, in any way, thought there was anything more to it than that...certainly nothing that had celtic/pagan religious undertones to it.
To this day, Halloween doesn't bother me. Like any day of the year, it is what you make it. I am of the opinion that no day of the year belongs to Satan, unless you choose to hand it over to him. I must confess that what I wanted to say to that mother who called to protest the party went something like this; "Well, if you want to worship the devil on Halloween, I suppose you can. But I think I'll stick with Jesus." Yes, I am glad I bit my tongue.
I have never "Celebrated" Halloween. I don't celebrate Labor Day, either. I participate in the fun, but I don't celebrate it. I celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Independence Day, because they hold significance for me. Halloween is just a fun excuse to eat a lot of chocolate and T.P. my friend's houses.

All of that having been said, if you are a parent who is feeling mixed about all of this, (Your kids want to have some fun. You have some fond memories from your own youth. But you know some Pharisees who will condemn you for allowing your child to dress up as Spiderman.) then I have some help for you.
On Halloween, you can also celebrate "Reformation Day." You see, it was back on that date in 1517 that Martin Luther first tacked the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, thus sparking the Protestant Reformation. I had a professor at Bethel College who did that. Everyone who came to his house for the party had to dress up as monks, nuns, popes, etc. GENIUS!
Imagine yourself dressed as the corrupt Pope, Leo X. (He really was a money grubbing swine. So you could adorn yourself with lots of "Bling.") Your kids could all by Dominican monks who march behind you down the street. The costuming is easy, because Dominicans all wear black robes. So, grab your bathrobe and you're all set. Ta Da!
Also, a thought for dolling out the candy to those who knock on your door. Be generous! In fact, get the big candy bars, or wrap a bunch of small ones up in a baggy. Tape to the bars, or insert in the baggies, a few Scripture verses. Odds are that the kids will actually read them if they know that it came from "That generous family." If you simply toss a tract, ESPECIALLY one written by that nut-job Jack Chic, in with no candy, those kids will throw it away. Hopefully, they will also come back and egg your house. Because you deserve it...jerk!

There is an old song by a guy named Keith Green. It's called "To Obey is better than Sacrifice." The next time someone tells you that such and such date is Holy, or that another date belongs to Satan, remind yourself of these verses. It's written from the perspective of God talking to humans.

"To obey is better than sacrifice
I don't need your money
I want your life
To obey is better than sacrifice
I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights
Cause if you can't come to Me every day
Then don't bother coming at all"

Every day belongs to Jesus, whether you get candy with it or not

Peace

Joe