Redeeming Halloween


Less than two weeks from now adorable little people will grace our door and ring the bell. Our tribe will eagerly answer said door and pass out treats. Do we celebrate Halloween? That dear DoAheads is a loaded question.

We have many fond memories of making costumes and dressing up.




3.5Matt signs more

4.5Pirate James Joseph

It didn’t take long until the kids began to take ownership as well as artistic license with regards to what they dreamed of “being.”

6.5Tay Mermaid

8-Halloween 2003

10-Halloween Star Wars

Our close to adult children get nostalgic as they remember those evenings of costumes and visiting family and friends. The evening always ended at Grandpa and Grandma’s for what eventually became our traditional sloppy-joe meal. And we can’t forget the marshmallow Peeps that Grandma always provided (even when there was the dreaded {Gasp!} local shortage of the precious puffy edibles.)

9-Matt & Einstein

11-Halloween-Pastor Nash

Isn’t it funny how things that seemed so simple when we were young can morph into something so complicated when we get old(er)?

Halloween definitely falls into the category of “it ain’t what it used to be.”Authors Kim Wier and Pam McCune in their book, Redeeming Halloween, said it best in their observation that there used to be a day that Halloween “didn’t part a crowd like Moses part(ed) the Red Sea.”

The truth is that Halloween among Christian circles can be quite controversial. Today’s post isn’t going to delve into theological or historical aspects of Halloween. I’ll leave that in the much more competent hands of Wier and McCune but I will answer the question, “Does our tribe celebrate Halloween?”

The answer is a resounding…DEPENDS.

It depends on how the one asking the question defines Halloween.

Our family has never focused on the dark side of Halloween. (Television commercials this time of year make me cringe.) When we decorated it was always “happy” pumpkins, candy corn, and fall flowers. This DoAhead Mama felt at peace with her tribe’s simplistic take on the eve of October 31st. But eventually we encountered “hiccups” when people we loved and admired cautioned us with regards to our participation.

What’s a DoAhead to do? I decided to do two things:

Pray and Learn

The learning portion of my journey was greatly aided by the Focus on the Family Book, Redeeming Halloween. Did I follow all of the suggestions? No. But did their insight and creative ideas help? Absolutely!

Here are five suggestions from their book that may help you as your family navigates this tricky holiday season.

#1 Train in the Faith.

Educate your family regarding the origins of Hallowed Eve. Discussion regarding the early churches celebration of “All Saints” can serve as a terrific springboard for helping children understand sacrifices that have been made for the faith. (Depending upon the age of your children they may already be aware of saints that are currently giving up their lives in the Middle East.)

We can also direct our children’s attention to modern day saints from our churches. Martin Luther, John Wesley and Mother Theresa are just a few examples. And then there are the saints that may be within our very own families. Our tribes grandmothers were both stellar examples of faith filled women who served others tirelessly. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge the gift and influence of those closest to us!

#2 Establish family traditions.

I can tell you from experience that as your kiddos get older they will cherish the unique traditions you established as a family. The options are limitless. It can be as simple as a family meal and movie night or something as grand as a neighborhood game night.

(I’m going to be transparent and tell you that I felt I had enough on my plate getting my own munchkins in costumes and out the door. Our private family tradition was about all I could muster. But I know some of you gals are party people…Halloween is the perfect opportunity to use that enthusiasm to pull off a neighborhood gathering.)

#3 Serve Others.

A neighborhood gathering is a great way to serve others but there are many options. Our church offers a city-wide trunk or treat event. Cars loaded with trunks full of treats park in the church lot. Adult attendees in costume are present. The setting provides a safe and fun atmosphere. Wier and McCune had terrific ideas regarding different types of service.  A few are as follows:

Harvest Boxes-This is a perfect time of year to collect items for missionaries. (Think Operation ShoeBox). Your family (or a group at work) can collaboratively gather items and send them to a mission family. Mailing those items in October is the perfect time to ensure arrival for Christmas.

Tricky Treaters-Instead of asking for treats your “tricky treaters”can  make up gift baskets and discreetly leave them at someones door. They ring the doorbell and scurry off!

Treats at your Door-Put thought into the treats you will have at your home to offer visitors. How about an invitation for a church gathering tied to your candy bars? Eighty percent of folks that are invited to church will say yes? Think about that…80%!

#4 Incorporate Scripture.

This isn’t a novel idea. It’s no different than incorporating it into any other day of our lives. Scripture tells us:

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NLT

There are easy opportunities to do just that during Halloween:

When carving pumpkins we can talk about what it means to have God’s word carved or written on our hearts:

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 31:33 ESV

When we turn on the decorative outdoor lights we can ask the question what does it mean to let our light shine?

“You are the light of world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it give light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

#5 Be safe.

This sounds like a statement of the obvious but as was noted earlier, “Halloween isn’t what it used to be.” Trick or treat with your child. Go to family and friends homes. Stick with neighborhoods that are familiar or start your own trunk or treat community (at church or work). Be proactive so that the evening can be a positive, fun and memorable one.

This blog entry is FAR longer than I ever intended but it was my way driving a stake at the foot of the cross and recognizing that through Christ all things are redeemable…including Halloween!

Your redeemed DoAhead Friend,

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