10 Reasons This Christian Mama Loves Halloween


1. Pumpkin Seeds. It’s Dane’s first year carving pumpkins, and when Andrew cuts the top off, he looks inside skeptically. “Yuck, Mom,” he says. “There’s bugs in there.”

“No baby,” I say. “Seeds.”

There’s something, though, about hollowing out a pumpkin. About digging through that orange slime and filling a strainer with good, white seeds. About the rinsing, the sprinkling of spices, the baking. When the seeds come out of the oven, you eat them straight from the baking sheet, warm and crisp.

2. Costumes. He’s at the age where he wants to choose, and he chose dinosaur a month ago and stuck with it all this time. We tried to paint his face, but this sensory boy of mine – something about the sting of green on his toddler cheeks was too much and we had to take it off (TAKE IT OFF!)

I still get to decide for Liam, and this year, he’s a cowboy, mostly because he has that bow-legged sheriff-walk down pat. A friend loans me the costume her little boy wore seven Octobers ago when I first met her. (I go on a little nostalgic jag when I get Liam strapped into the homemade chaps. I remember so clearly how we all followed Henry around our office complex as he trick-or-treated the cubicles.)

And it’s imagination and play at its very best as Dane runs around the house practicing his roar. Even Andrew gets a little bummed that he didn’t plan a costume this year. In the end, he digs through the Rubbermaids for the old 2008 favorite: Buddy the Elf. (My homemade costume masterpiece, crated entirely from felt.)

3. Friends. The kids are running back and forth the entire length of our house…from the front door to the sliding glass patio door, and you have to talk loud over the roaring, the yelling, the wild flurry of it all.

In these toddler years, we’ve gotten bad at having people over. With the dinner-time crankies and an early bedtime routine for the kids, it all seems so complicated and I tend to avoid it.

But we’re packed in the kitchen and the place is getting over-warm from all the energy.

And what’s better, at three, than getting to run around the neighborhood costumed with your best friend? What’s better than pumpkin-shaped pizzas and too many chairs around one, big table and Trick or treat! shouted at the top of your lungs all together?

 4. Receiving. You’ve done nothing to earn it except show up. You hold out your plastic pumpkin bucket, and it is filled with wonderful things.

5. Neighbors. I’ve gotten so used to them, their houses sturdy around us. Their comings and goings marked by closing car doors and car engines starting. Fall is here, and we’re all outside less, and it’s easy to forget in the search for “community,” that it’s already here…all around us.

 I make a coffee date with the woman next door and get a quick hug before chasing the cowboy down the pathway. We make tentative plans for dinner with the family around the block. The families comes, decked out in their finest, and we do our best to welcome them.

6. Lit Houses. I know there are reasons to hate Halloween. There is so much SCARY and so much YUCK and our little two-year-old princess guest hides under the table for a full five minutes after the kids with the Scream masks come to the door.

But there’s something about all these houses, lit up, glowing from within. They stand with doors wide open, light spilling out onto dark streets. You walk through the darkness, and there is a place to stop, and there is candy waiting and people who will say, You look awesome!

And the world is so dark sometimes, but tonight, the kids move through it bravely. They go from light to light to light to light collecting good things.

7. Giving. Whenever the trick-or-treaters come to the door, Dane and his best friend jump up from the table and run to greet them. “Our friends are here!!” Dane screams, though we don’t really know that many of them. And my heart is a little bit stopped by the truth in these three-year-old hearts: all who come here are friends, and we are excited to see them.

The boys clamor onto the porch, pull big handfuls of candy from our bowl and they are learning what joy it is to give, give, give to strangers. I have to tell them every time, “That’s enough now. Tell them goodbye.”

8. Sugar Highs. I spend all day every day, it seems, saying No. No. No. It’s You cannot do that and Not right now and Maybe later, and there’s something to a night where you just let it all go, say Yes.

Yes to the Skittles and the M&Ms and the miniature Twix bars. The kids are wild, propelled by all that candy, running circles on the front lawn, and it’s sugar-coated happiness all the way.

9. Stars. The stars are out and high above our heads and the boys stand on the driveway and break into a spontaneous rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle. And if you’re looking for it, there is light everywhere.

10. Sugar Crashes. Liam is spread-eagle on the floor. Dane is a weeping mess on his bottom bunk at 8:20, and the crash is so sudden and so dramatic that I can’t help laughing a little into my shirt sleeve.

We are all so fragile, and sometimes it feels like the end of the living world and really, we just need sleep. Good food. A regular, normal day.

Andrew and I hold the boys tight, touch their faces. We thank God for the day, and wipe sugar-tears from cheeks, and in the end, we all fall asleep tired and happy.

24 thoughts on “10 Reasons This Christian Mama Loves Halloween

  1. I love the progression. Ha! Who wouldn’t love a night out with friends in the neighborhood, even if it ends with crying and writhing on the floor!

  2. Yes! We end up having a block party at the end of the street with a fire pit, plates of chicken bites, a pot of chili, a big cauldron of candy, and children running everywhere. It brings the neighborhood together.

  3. I love Halloween too. One of my top 10 would have been that lots of Christians hate it. I cherish the opportunities in life to be set apart from the “religious” folks without trying at all. My favorite one of yours was the lit up houses and open front doors. I love seeing humanity almost accidentally admitting it’s collective need for genuine community on nights like these. Well written a Addie

    1. Seriously, how great is it that on one day a year very nearly everyone spends money to give things away to total strangers simply to make them happy. So “others oriented.” So the best of humanness.

  4. We are all so fragile, and sometimes it feels like the end of the living world and really, we just need sleep. Good food. A regular, normal day.
    So true and so perfectly weak. So needful. And so much the reminder that with all that is truly at stake in the world, this one and the next, that we have a Father over and above, and IN it that makes IT all beautiful, and restful, when finally we crash.

  5. “From light to light to light.” Yes. My neighborhood isn’t the friendliest. Folks don’t go out of their way to chat or get to know each other. But all my quiet neighbors put out lit pumpkins and twinkle lights and showered candy on cute little kids. Old customs of hospitality observed just this once. Very cool.

    1. The neighborhood dynamic can be so weird. I often want to go over and knock on a neighbor’s door to say hello, but it seems like such an invasive thing in a society where we so value our privacy. I’m thankful for the open doors of Halloween night and the chances it gives me to connect.

  6. Both my husband and I come from families that didn’t celebrate Halloween when we were kids, so embracing the holiday now as adults always feels a little weird. It’s disconcerting to turn your back on the things you were taught, even when it’s something as silly as this. Thank you for pointing out the beauty (and dare I say holiness?) of what some consider to be such a dark night.

    1. I get that. And I know that people have really good reasons for looking for alternatives to this day. But to me, there is something good (and, yes, even holy) about choosing to be part of it in a deliberate, generous way.

  7. Loved every one of these. One of the saddest things (and there are not many) about moving to Santa Barbara 16 years ago to take a ministry position was that our new neighborhood has NO trick or treaters. This after leaving a house where we routinely handed out 200 pieces of candy every year. I miss it – and yet, that season is over for us, so it’s okay. We get to go to granddaughters’ Halloween parades at school, so there’s that. :>)

  8. My newly evangelical daughter came home one night from youth group, and asked me if I knew Halloween was evil? I couldn’t imagine why? When the kids were little, it was one of my favorite holidays. I have tons of great memories. She is now a freshman at a Christian College. She did tell me that they did celebrate by watching allowed scary movies, and the girls and guys were allowed to see each other separate dorms. I’m glad they were allowed to enjoy the holiday!

  9. A few days ago I read yet another long, drawn-out dissertation on the Evils of Halloween. It was posted by my former pastor’s wife, and then re-posted by endless Christians I knew in churches I used to attend. Thank you for offering a different perspective. I’m with you all the way.

  10. Loved this a year ago and love it now. Especially “And the world is so dark sometimes, but tonight, the kids move through it bravely. They go from light to light to light to light collecting good things.”

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