Fall Festivals And The Devil’s Holiday

I wish I could find my scrapbooks.

I was once a diligent and very creative scrapper. It was my hobby. I loved me some Creative Memories, and most of my creative energy went into cutting pictures and finding fancy paper and hand-lettering captions.

Those were the days when I seemed to have a lot more free time.

The days before Facebook….

sigh

Anyway, if I could find my scrapbooks, I’d scan photos and show you some pictures of my kids in the early days of Halloween festivities. It was something else – especially the first few years.

Here’s the backstory: When my kids were younger, we were part of some very traditional, fundamental Baptist churches. Good people, holding fast to some firm lines about right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral. One of the lines was wrapped around Halloween.

It was the devil’s holiday. A night for Satanic rituals and sacrifices. A bastion of evil. Worldly and pagan.

A good Christian did not participate in Halloween, under any circumstances.

And I was fully bought in.

I was that mom, the one who didn’t let her kids go to school on the day of the Halloween party. We went to the movies instead. We kept the lights off on October 31, kept them far away from experiencing the frightening, sinful, shameful festivities designed to honor the devil and his minions. We didn’t even say the word “HALLOWEEN”.

We dressed up for the “Fall Festival” at church, which was, indeed, tons of fun. When I was eight months pregnant with Daniel, I went as a pregnant lady. (I really wish I could find my scrapbooks…) We did our Fall Festival thing and stood proud, tall and righteous.

At some point, the grip loosened. We fell into some grace. A lot of things started to loosen, in fact, and we relaxed even more. And so, one year when Sarah and Shannon were in elementary school, we decided to let them go trick or treating.

They’d never been.

Daniel, on his way
to Kroger as a nerd.

Here were these adorable eight and nine-year old girls, with little Syd and Daniel tagging along (and David just a few months old), experiencing a fine American tradition as if they were foreigners in a strange land. They understood dressing up; they did it all the time. They loved candy.

But when we put a plastic pumpkin in their hands, walked them up to a stranger’s door and told them to ring the doorbell and say “TRICK OR TREAT!”, they looked at us like we were nuts. It made no sense.

However, as they followed through and realized the incredible, amazing joy – people opened the door and GAVE THEM CANDY!!!!!! – they quickly became believers.

They’ve loved Halloween ever since. We’ve never gotten much into the scary stuff, but dressing up and trick-or-treating has always been a family favorite. After we moved to Virginia, it was usually a last-minute thing; October 31 would roll around, they’d get home from school and start scrounging around to improvise a costume. We had some fun times in our old neighborhood, with some amazing friends.

I wish I could find my scrapbooks.

And I don’t know what I think about that fundamentalist box we used to live in. On one hand, I’m glad we’re out.

But on the other hand, it can be really nice and safe inside the lines.

I’m still no fan of scary and creepy. We haven’t done the trick or treat thing now for a few years; David is a tall young man and Daniel’s way past the age of ringing doorbells. But I’m no longer scared of giving the devil his due by delighting in a little make-believe and getting free candy. I’m okay with Halloween; as with everything, it’s a matter of balance.

I just wish I could find my scrapbooks.

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