Julie Lyles Carr: To Treat or Not To Treat; That is the Question...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

To Treat or Not To Treat; That is the Question...

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I have a hunch that you just haven't seen enough '7 of 8 as Snow White' yet...
I'm very thoughtful...

So there you go...

We've had an ambivalent relationship with Halloween through the years. For quite a while, 1 of 8 had a strong conviction as a child that she shouldn't participate. We honored that conviction on her part, but didn't put it on the other kids. A great compromise was going to our church's Harvest Party, that allowed 2 and 3 of 8 to dress up and allowed 1 of 8 to gather candy without doing the Halloween 'thing'.

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We moved to a different neighborhood when 4 of 8 was an infant and discovered our first Halloween in that house was a full-out neighbor experience. All the neighbors were out, visiting, laughing, enjoying the evening. So, through the years, we came to see the annual trick-or-treating as a way to connect with those living around us, a springboard to further contact and conversations. We always made our Halloween fun and light, carving our pumpkins with Christian symbols, telling each trick-or-treater 'God bless you'...and very much meaning it.

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I do understand why families choose to not celebrate Halloween. Our culture has turned it into such a scary and demonic event, and the evening itself has a long history of duality.  Early Christians used it as an occasion of honoring the memory of the dead, while the pagan culture around them used it for darker purposes. Just like Christmas (originally a celebration of the birth of Mithras) and Easter (originally a fertility festival for Astarte), Christ-followers have long had to make decisions about how to handle and repurpose the traditions of the cultures around them. And we have had our seasons of turning our back on the event, choosing to keep the porch lights off.

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And we've let the kids vote their conscience as well, sometimes choosing to trick-or-treat, sometimes not.

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But ultimately, for us, all through the years, depending on where we have lived, what the tenor of the neighborhood has been, we have found it to be a night to reclaim goodness and being neighborly. Doors are opened, children are greeted and treated, hands are shaken and friendships are made.

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And however the world has chosen to twist the night for evil, good wins. Good wins.


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