To our kids, dressing up is what Halloween is all about. The chance to dream up, design, and wear a costume of their own is what each of them look forward to most when we see the holiday approaching on the calendar. Candy is good too, but right now Papa and I are enjoying the fact that it is their interest in creative play that is most important to them.
Last years’s costumes are still worn on occasion, but I think this whole crafty party of Halloween has become an important part of our own tradition-making, which means you can’t wear the same costume for two trick-or-treat outings around here!
Tomorrow, Buddy is a robin, Girlie is a princess fairy, Pal is a helicopter (or a “ha-copter” as he calls it), and Chickie is a ladybug. All flying this year!
Taking advantage of cloth my great-aunt was giving away, scrap wood at Papa’s workplace, and some miscellaneous craft supplies we had on hand, the total cost of making costumes this year was $1. I just couldn’t pass up those cute fairy wings at the Dollar Tree!
Making costumes is fun, but I think if I did it the usual way by purchasing patterns and making them exactly to fit someone else’s design the fun would be lost. Instead, I start out by drawing pictures with the kids of what they want their costumes to look like. We talk about colors, textures, shapes, and how they will all be incorporated into the design.
Once I have developed an idea in my head, I collect all the necessary supplies and do the equivalent of Papa’s “good hack job” of sewing them up.
This looks like a lot of measuring against the kids’ bodies, estimating, shaping as we go, and improvisation. Perhaps it’s not the professional way of a seamstress, but it’s faster, more fun, and in the end the kids are always pleased.
This year Papa played an important part in Pal’s costume. I could work my way through a robin, a ladybug, and a fairy, but a helicopter? Hmmm. I was stumped. So I presented Pal’s idea to Papa and asked if he had any brilliant ideas. Well, he jumped right on it! He drew up a design, and yesterday brought home the propeller to attach to a hat and the tail with propeller to strap on to Pal’s back underneath the cloth part, which makes up the nose and windshield of the flying machine.
We’ll be visiting a few family members close by and then making our way to a more populated area nearby so we can walk around for a while instead of getting in and out of the car repeatedly. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain like they say it might!
So, on a different note, I’ve begun discovering the world of controversy over Christianity and Halloween in the blogging world, and while my two cents don’t count for much outside my family, I thought I’d share a little about what we believe.
We are Christians for starters. Probably you all know that, or if you didn’t you do now! When we started out on this parenting journey we had no plans to celebrate Halloween. Even though we didn’t believe trick-or-treaters were worshiping the devil as some anti-Halloween protesters seem to believe, we just didn’t see the point in participating.
Then last year Buddy somehow found out about Halloween and asked why he couldn’t dress up for it. If dressing up is the idea, he wanted a part! So we figured, why not. Why not be a part of the cute side of Halloween and let the kids have new costumes and beg their grandparents for candy (which I make last a long time!). So last year was our first trick-or-treating experience.
Even though we participate in Halloween, we do not celebrate it in the true sense of the word. We don’t cover our yard and camper with Halloween decorations, Papa and I have not dressed up (or probably ever will), we don’t scare our kids with spooky stories, or play witch games, or whatever else people are said to do on Halloween. We’re just in it for the fun.
There are good Christian arguments for both sides of the Halloween debate. Some choose to shut off their porch lights or leave home for the evening, some go to the other extreme and go all out on Halloween gore. Most, or at least many, Christians are probably somewhere in the middle, letting their kids dress up and offering some sort of treat to kids who knock on their door. But the debate is heated, and while each have their reasons, I felt myself agreeing whole-heartedly with this Christian mom who said,
“If Jesus can go straight to hell, stare death and devil in the face, win and come back alive, why can’t we open our doors to the 6 year old in a Batman costume and his shivering mom? Why can’t we?” [And later in the same post] “Turn your light on. Lots of lights. A city on a hill cannot be hidden right? Be a city on a hill. Halloween may not be “redeemed” but you are. So open your door and smile.”
When I read this post that Trouble Face Mom wrote last year, I honestly didn’t think it was that ground-breaking. I agreed with it and even posted it on our facebook page, but when I read her follow-up written this year, I was like, “preach it sister!” Though I respect the right of a Christian to completely ignore Halloween (as does she), the way she dramatically pointed out the huge cracks in those arguments felt so refreshing.
“I’m reading the comments about shutting doors to the darkness. Shutting doors to the half-drunk parents. Shutting doors on kids who aren’t dressed appropriately. And I just want to know which side of the door you think Jesus is standing on. What if Jesus is on the other side of that door doing the knocking? Will we keep Him out too? Jesus turned the water into wine after everybody at the party was already wasted. He hung out with prostitutes and thieves and sinners. It ticked a lot of people off.” [And further on in the same post] “If God cannot use you to love your neighbor on Halloween, or any other day of the year, your God is too small.”
This doesn’t mean we’re about to set up a popcorn machine and coffee maker in our yard tomorrow night (no one would show up to our secluded spot even if we did), but I really like her ideas about how a person, confident in their faith in Jesus can show love to people, even on the night of Halloween – that God the Almighty has no reason to be afraid of Halloween or of spreading His love on that night, so why should we?
I would daresay that for most people, Halloween is not about death, devil worship, and spells. It’s about having fun, meeting people, dressing up, decorating, eating candy, and looking forward to something interesting to break up the normal work and school week.
There is a huge difference between celebrating Halloween and having fun on Halloween. Some Christians might argue that point, and maybe for some it is better that they not participate at all (such as one who has recently turned from celebrating Halloween to its fullest), but I’m glad someone is out there pointing out that you don’t have to be at either extreme, and you don’t have to prove you love Christ by ignoring trick-or-treaters. In fact, you can love Jesus and let your kids dress up for the neighborhood to see. That’s what we’ll be doing!
What do you do on Halloween? Where do you stand on the scale from celebrating Halloween to completely ignoring it? What experiences have shaped your own tradition?
(this post featured on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways blog hop #96)