Family Matters: Alternatives for celebrating Halloween with children

 

Halloween is less than a week away, and my little ones are counting down the days.

Their mother, however, is less enthusiastic about this particular holiday. On one hand, I can understand the attraction. We love getting stuff for free. We love candy. And our whole family enjoys dressing up.

We own a closet full of costumes which we wear year round - and I don't just mean the Disney princess dresses my daughter likes to live in.

We also dress up for blockbuster movies, Thanksgiving feasts, hospital deliveries, Civil War re-enactments and family vacations in Williamsburg.

It hardly makes sense to dress up for all those other occasions and skip Halloween.

On the other hand, we don't do creepy. The ghoulish, ghostly origins and associations of Halloween make me more than a little uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact, all that free candy is bad for our weight, our teeth and our hyperactivity.

No child needs as big a stash of sweets as most kids bring home from trick-or-treating (which is why I usually try to help mine out by eating a good portion of their chocolate).

Over the years, our family has taken a variety of approaches to solving the Halloween dilemma:

n We've scheduled family vacations that time of year so we'd be out of town and miss it altogether.

n We've celebrated Reformation Day instead, singing Martin Luther's hymns and watching various biopics of his life.

n We've attended fall festivals at local churches and even volunteered to help with a few of them.

n We've visited a pumpkin patch after dark and attempted to feel our way through the corn maze. (Bonus points if you can get through without a flashlight!)

We've left an unattended bowl of candy on our front porch while we took in a movie. (Bad idea - the first trick-or-treater ignored our "only take one" sign and dumped the entire bowl in his bag, so all the candy was gone before we ever got out of our driveway.)

Several years ago, we moved to a new neighborhood that attracts a flood of trick-or-treaters from all over town. That fact made us rethink our approach to this holiday yet again. Sure enough, we had over a thousand trick-or-treaters come by our first year. But we were prepared. Not only did we stock-up on candy, but we also laid in a huge supply of gospel tracts to drop in their goody bags, as well.

We've continued this tradition for the past six Halloweens, even designing several trick-or-treat tracts of our own, which we now rotate from year to year. I know most parents view Halloween as all fun and games, but there is a darker side to the holiday. The question we've had to ask ourselves is, are we going to run and hide from the darkness or shine as a light in the midst of it? Good arguments can be made for either side of the debate, but at this season of our lives, our family is attempting to do the latter.

 

As usual, Jennifer Flanders will be dressing up this year to pass out candy and tracts to trick-or-treaters. You can download a free printable version of the tracts we use at www.flandersfamily.info. Please link website to the following url: http://www.flandersfamily.info/web/mailbag-free-printable-trick-or-treat-tracts/.

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