What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Defense of the Land of "Make-Believe"

One of my dearest facebook friends made a statement this week that she was going to hand out candy to the neighborhood children on Halloween this year.  She said she had gone back and forth on this issue in her mind for some time and decided that she didn't want the children to grow up thinking that "Christians were a bunch of meanies." 

I understand her feelings on this completely.  Over the years I've wrestled with this issue as well, especially since I was in the position of being a pastor's wife in evangelical churches for quite a few years.  I had to learn to be careful of how I felt about Halloween and other holidays lest I would offend some of my "weaker brothers and sisters" in the faith, or possibly lead some child astray by my freedom in Christ.  And certainly there is merit to those thoughts as they are based on scriptural teachings in God's Word.  (See Romans 14, I Corinthians 9:19-27)  However, there is also much teaching in God's Word on the freedom that we enjoy as believers in Christ (Romans 8, Galatians 5 to name a couple).  But this is not intended to be a theological or doctrinal debate on the issue...just an expression of my opinion and feelings about something I believe is important enough to discuss.

Now before some of you get nervous about what I am going to say, I am not advocating lying to children about things that are make-believe, such as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy. And I certainly do not promote the dark and evil side of Halloween, which can be linked to the occult and other things into which we do not want to dabble. 

All that being said, what I DO want to say is, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" on this subject!  Teach your own children the truth about Christmas, Easter, and what they mean to us as believers in Christ Jesus. Make sure they understand the difference between good and evil and all things scary and imaginary. And then have fun with your children.  Allow them to experience happy memories and fun traditions within your family circle.
My kids way back then...

My happiest memories growing up were the family traditions we shared in our family.  On Halloween I can remember from my earliest childhood going from house to house with my parents.  My mother and father both dressed up in costumes, and we kids were costumed as well.  My mother's favorite costume was that of a country girl with apple red cheeks, blacked out front teeth and wearing a yellow checked gingham dress, and playing a rather squeeky tune on her violin.  My dad was dressed up as a farmer (which he was) or a hobo, and we carried a bag full of dried corn kernels from our farm, from which we would throw handfulls at the door, yelling "trick or treat" until the inhabitants would come to the door and act so surprised to see us. They would pretend they were scared or they would ooh and ah at our costumes, and then try to guess who we were.  We would hold up our sacks and they would cheerfully fill them with all kinds of candy (and even apples back then), and sometimes even invite us in for hot chocolate or apple cider.  Then we'd be on our way to the next house. 

I cherish those memories to this day, and I could never bring myself to turn away children from the neighborhood on Halloween because I didn't think it was a "christian" holiday.  On the contrary, it may be the ONLY opportunity I have to come into contact with those children and have a chance to be seen as a friendly person who wants to share in their joy and fun.  How can I hope to have any other chance to influence them positively if I can't even welcome them and give them a piece of candy on Halloween?  I have actually used that opportunity in times past to not only give them some candy, but also put a little Bible tract in with the goodies that perhaps they or their parents might read later...but never without the candy included. And oftentimes I was dressed up in some rather crazy costume myself to get into the spirit of things, which always added to the hilarity of the event!
One of our church sponsored "fall festivals" The Pastor's Wife on
the left, and the Pastor on the right!  Fun memories.

Me, ready for a "Hobo" Halloween Party
circa 1978
 Yes, I certainly agree that having a church sponsored "Fall Festival" may be a safer activity for all concerned, but too often that is limited to your own church family and some of their friends.  I also like what some churches do by having a "Trunk or Treat" event where they have open car-trunks full of candy lined up in their church parking lot along with other activities and treats for the night, which is again, a safe alternative for the community.  It is a creative and positive way to reach out to the neighborhood children and let them see that your church (and you) want to be friendly and not judgmental.  Due to safety issues we are seeing more and more communities doing this type of event as opposed to the door-to-door trick or treating.  Whatever your community and/or church does, it should be a fun time, and an event that promotes happy family times.

When it comes to Christmas and Easter traditions, I will discuss those at another time...but let me just say that my family went all out to celebrate both the religious holiday traditions as well as the fun side of these holidays.  We grew up knowing that Christmas was the birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ, but jolly old St. Nicholaus always made a grand entrance into our home and imaginations with lots of toys and goodies for us all.  There was never any doubt that Easter was the commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus from His death on the cross...but we had so much fun hunting for our Easter baskets on Easter morning (that the "Easter Bunny" had so cleverly hidden in new places each year) and having numerous egg hunts all afternoon with our cousins and family.   Did I grow up distrusting my parents and being angry and confused because they "lied" to me about these make-believe characters?  Absolutely NOT!  On the contrary, I grew up loving my wonderful parents all the more because they made our home so much fun and full of happy surprises and memories. I will always treasure these family traditions, and have passed them down to my own children, with some traditions combined from my husband's family as well.

I guess the important thing here is, do what seems right to you and your family, based on your own personal beliefs and traditions.  Every family is a little different.  It isn't really the full content of your traditions that matter, it's that you did something that created joy and happiness in the lives of your children that will linger in their hearts forever.  And please, don't be a "grinch", or a "Scrooge", or a "spoil-sport" when it comes to celebrating, whether in your own home, or in the neighborhood.  Open your door and your heart, and let others come in to the Light that is shining within you!

My Girlfriends and Me on Halloween, circa 1962!

BOO!  Did I scare you?


  1. Be afraid!---------verrrry afraid!!! BOO!!!!
    Sweet memories!
    Thanks, Pam!

  2. Once again we agree, who da thunk?

    My answer to those who worried about my kids getting confused about Santa and Jesus, which was real....I told them that they never saw me worshiping Santa!

  3. Great answer, RCL! And yes, I fully expected you and I would be in agreement on this topic.

    And to my sister Doris above, I was wondering if you have that picture of Mom in that outfit? I know she is with someone else, but maybe you could scan it to me and I will add it to this story. She was so cute with her rosy cheeks and violin.

  4. I am so thankful that our family allowed us to celebrate all holidays with out the fear of us becoming corrupt! I love that Grandma and Grandpa went all out for all holidays! They left us with a legacy of FUN AND FAITH!!!


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