When our kids were young, we struggled to figure out how to participate in Halloween. At the time, our kids went to public school during the week and Sunday school on Sunday. Depending on who you talked to, Halloween was either evil or a harmless excuse to dress up and ask the neighbors for candy.
We took our parenting jobs very seriously and we took the calling to instill faith in our children even more seriously. For us, Halloween was a big pile of decisions that felt vital in affecting our children’s future. We certainly did not want to do anything to dishonor God, but we also didn’t want our kids to miss out on the joy of dressing up, carving pumpkins, and eating too much candy.
When they were very young, here’s what we came up with:
We carved pumpkins with crosses and wrote “God made the pumpkins too” on the back of them. We allowed the kids to dress up (Bible characters or any other non-scary costume). And, we had harvest parties at our house and invited their friends over so that they didn’t feel the loss of trick or treating. That carried us through their early years.
But, when they were pre-teens, they wanted to do some of the things their friends were doing to celebrate Halloween. By this time, they each had a strong faith of their own so our jobs as parents had changed from instilling faith to safeguarding it. We had to come up with new rules.
During this phase, they were allowed to carve their pumpkins in whatever way they wanted (within reason). I have fond memories of my son and his best friend spending HOURS in our garage carving ornate designs on pumpkins. The results were always amazing. (As a side note: they still carve together every year and now mentor the younger guys too!).
The kids had a few years of trick or treating, mostly when they were teens. But, it was never a highlight for them. I like to think that was because we had set up special family traditions at home: favorite foods for dinner, movies, and my famous chocolate/orange cupcakes made only for Halloween.
Our rules, and how strict we were about celebrating Halloween, changed as our children grew. And somehow, we made decisions that allowed the kids to enjoy themselves without sacrificing our beliefs.
Things have come full circle now. Just like we did for our own kids so many years ago, Jer and I throw a pumpkin carving party every year. This gives the next generation a safe place to take their kids as they struggle to make their own rules and traditions. It is heartwarming to gather all the kids we watched growing up and have them now bring their spouses and offspring to our home for yet another family ”Harvest Party”.
Do you have mixed feelings about celebrating Halloween? How have you managed to find a way to celebrate the harvest? And, what are your family traditions? We’d love to hear your ideas. You just may help another mom set up her own rules and traditions.