I realize that Halloween and any celebration of its festivities is an extremely hot topic among Christians. I know full well that Halloween has its roots in Paganism and is associated with all sorts of evil. We avoid the scary, evil and grotesque aspects of the holiday; however, my family does choose to participate in what we deem to be harmless Halloween traditions, including dressing up, pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treating. I'll tell you why at the end.
Seven years ago today, my sister and brother-in-law pulled out of our driveway after a tearful goodbye, leaving their two small brown-eyed foster children behind in our living room. It was a moment that had been in the works for quite a while, ever since God had made it clear to all of us (Scott and me, my sister and her husband) that it was our house and not theirs that these two kids should call home. (There was, of course, an entire agency, a lawyer, and a judge that were also on board, but that's a story for a different day.)
As the foster family they had called theirs for a solid year drove away, those two sets of big brown eyes looked unsure and apprehensive, clueless about what the future might hold for them. The larger, supposedly more prepared two sets of blue eyes in the room mirrored those emotions perfectly...with perhaps just a touch of panic mixed in. Our baby daughter, only eleven months old, had no idea how her life was about to change.
It was two days before Halloween.
Grasping for some way to make it through those first few days of weirdness; hoping to kindle some sort of a sense of belonging in the hearts of our hours-old "family", we started our very first family tradition.
We carved our pumpkin together.
We ate donuts and drank hot apple cider.
We watched the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown movie.
And we told our new children that we would do this every. single. year.
Because we were a family now...
...and having traditions was part of being a family.
Tonight will be our eighth "Gotcha-Day" Halloween harvest party as a family.
We have a great time together.
There have been some really significant changes over the years, as well. Three little brothers have been added to the mix since that first party, and our oldest son, one of the two brown-eyed children for whom we first brought the tradition into existence, is celebrating his second "Gotcha-Day" away from the embrace of our family.
And yet, I believe with all my heart that our Halloween traditions have brought our family closer. In the beginning, it was just the thought in a broken child's mind that there really might be a "next year" with this family, and as each "next year" turns over into the next, we simply have a blast brainstorming the possibilities and coordinating our costumes, at least a year in advance, for the following Halloween. It's always been something we can talk about and look forward to, even when the pain and pressure of raising these two hurt kids has overshadowed everything else. And for some unexplainable reason, walking around town looking like a giant bunch of weirdos each October has bonded us together in entirely new ways.
Our family is closer together because of Halloween.
Okay, here it is. First, I have nothing but respect for people who feel convicted to forgo the celebration of Halloween. You can't go wrong when you are praying, fasting, and seeking God's will in every situation, and it's awesome that you've felt His hand leading you in that direction. We, however, have seen God working through the celebration of Halloween at our house.
Don't believe me?
We serve a God who specializes in making old things new and bad things good and ugly things beautiful. I am living proof. God is a God of redemption, and He can redeem even the most Pagan of holidays and use them for His good if He so chooses.
Please, let's stop the Christian-against-Christian fighting and bashing and heated debating about the observation of traditions that were once associated with Pagan things. There are many evil things in this world, many things labeled as clearly so in the Bible, but I don't believe that costumes and pumpkins and candy collection are inherently evil.
I'm convinced that Satan is filled with glee when He gets believers fighting amongst themselves, further separating the already-fragmented church of Jesus Christ. Let's be peacemakers.
How do you feel about the subject? I would love to hear your opinions. Respectfully worded, of course. ;)