Why I’m Ambivalent About Halloween

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Halloween is fast approaching and I figure this is as good a time as any to share my unresolvedness about this so-called holiday.  So, without further ado…

Why I’m Not a Fan of Halloween:

It’s scary.  My daughter already knows that life is not all peaches and cream.  She’s lived scary.  Werewolves and vampires don’t help the healing process.

There are no meaningful traditions.  I love the cornbread-cooking and parade-watching and piñata-bashing of Thanksgiving.  The tree-trimming and candle-lighting and carol-singing of Christmas.  Creating traditions with my daughter has been a healing experience for both of us.  These rituals, these moments of shared experience, mark the passage of time in our life together.  Halloween holds none of that for us.

Everyone is looking at you.  Whether your costume is simple or extravagant, someone will notice and comment on it.  And this has the potential to go terribly awry for us.

It comes right in between my birthday and my daughter’s.  That’s a lot of celebrating in the course of one week.  Too much celebrating exhausts and overwhelms both of us.  And the truth is, I feel like our lives deserve more celebration than a random night reserved for dressing up and begging for candy.

Why I’m Not Anti-Halloween:

I don’t think it’s wrong or immoral or anti-Christian to dress up and beg for candy.

Choosing the perfect costume can be fun.  Maybe you’ll decorate a jack-o-lantern shirt together (my own minimalist nod to Halloween last year) and it will be a good bonding experience.

It’s a chance to talk to about values, beliefs and “how we do things in our family.”  As a parent, I believe in honest, age-appropriate conversation instead of covering my daughter’s eyes or burying my head in sand.  Halloween is ripe for conversations about materialism, violence and sexuality (and, I suppose, nutrition).  I want my daughter to know it’s ok to talk about these things with me.

Everybody’s doing it.  I know this is probably a terrible reason to take a kid trick-or-treating, but I’m very aware of how different my daughter feels every day of her life.  Though I want her to be principled, resilient and willing to stand up and stand out when necessary, I also really want her to be happy.  And I know that swapping stories of costumes and candy with her first-grade friends will make her feel happy.  And normal.  And that matters to me too.

And so I procrastinate.  And grumble.  And write blog posts about my ambivalence.

What are your thoughts on Halloween?

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One thought on “Why I’m Ambivalent About Halloween

  1. June

    I totally wish is was just dress up day (with candy and a party of course). We mostly don’t celebrate it because the rest of the world associates it with the garbage. I also live kind of close to Salem, where the celebration of the dark side is very real. Its hard for me personally to feel peace about celebrating it simply because its a key note holiday for Satanists, and because its hard to participate without being exposed to the scary side. We went to a “Halloween Party” at our open tot gym today, and even the decorations had ghosts, witches, and the like, which made me uncomfortable (the kids were 2 and under for goodness sake). It involved dress-up, but my son didnt even want to dress up. And we already have a sugar problem at our house. =) Still, I see your point about your daughter feeling included and I dont think you should feel condemned whatever side you choose. Its simply an awkward holiday to discuss in Christian circles… Peace and blessings, whatever you decide.

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