My mother never liked Halloween.
It wasn’t the candy or the costumes or even the dirty looks “real” Christians give you whenever you forget to call the Halloween party a “Fall Festival.”
She always just steered us away from what most people considered to be in the spirit of the holiday – ghouls, witches, ax murderers – and focused on the lighter aspects, like the costumes.
My mom is an excellent seamstress and somehow managed to pull off exactly what we asked for year after year, no matter how complicated.
“OK, so I want to be the Swan Princess, but I want to wear the dress she wears at the very end, not the one when she gets kidnapped. You know, the one with the feathers on the shoulders and the long, see-through sleeves and the pointy things on her hands? And she has that thing, you know, that thing? I wanna be that.”
One year, my family even went together as characters from Peter Pan, who was played by me, of course. Those green tights had more holes than tights by the time Mom made me stop wearing them six weeks later.
Obviously, my mom worked up some enthusiasm as Oct. 31 crept nearer. But, she made sure we grew up with a healthy distaste for all things gory – I think that’s why I still can’t watch scary movies without jumping so hard I spill the popcorn of the guy three seats down.
I can’t speak for other parents, but I think my mom made a good choice. Some people might say I was sheltered, or I missed out on some great films along the way. Some might argue there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday in a way that reflects its historical roots in the Mexican holiday, El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. But that’s not the point.
The point is, Mom was able to teach us discernment – a skill few of us learn until much later in life. She took an event that played a big part in our elementary-school lives and helped us decide what was harmless fun and what was darker and probably not healthy for kids – or Christians – to dwell on.
Halloween is probably harmless. Black cats and green goblins ultimately aren’t a matter of life and death. But, because of Mom, I’m better prepared to face whatever the commercial world tries to push on me, the good and the bad.
So, bring on the pumpkins. Santa, you’re next.