To Trick-or-Treat. Or Not

Halloween approaches. The costumes have been on sale for a while now. People around here actually put orange lights out to decorate their porches. When I was a little girl, I did go trick-or-treating. But I did not take my children. Here’s why.

We lived in the country, sans street lights. Our driveway was 650 feet long and lined with pine trees. Nobody came to our house. And to get to where there were houses close together that had street lights (town), we had to travel five miles. It didn’t seem to the hubby and me that the people in town should be burdened with providing candy for kids who were not their neighbors. Add to that the fact that my husband and I have struggled with our weight all of our lives. We didn’t see the candy as being something our children actually needed. So, although we did get them costumes for school (which made for some pretty cute pictures which I would scan for you IF I had a scanner), our kids missed out on that aspect of childhood. And they both think their dad and I were mean because of it.

I will admit, too, that the hubby and I didn’t see any sense in celebrating a pagan holiday. We thought trick-or-treating had gone from “good, clean fun” to something else. Did we want our children, even mindlessly, saying they would give a “trick” if they didn’t get a treat? Our church did make a big deal out of All Saints Day, but the kids didn’t understand the connection until they were much older. So, for them, their dad and I were just … mean.

Our grandsons do go trick-or-treating, and today in my e-mail, their dad sent me a link about Halloween (“Who’s Afraid of Halloween, ” written by Ken Ramstead). I guess I disagree with the article he sent in that I would not expect children to see the activities surrounding Halloween as anything OTHER than fun. I think it is up to us as their parents to protect them from things that can be harmful to them, and if we err on the side of caution, then I guess we will have to be thought of as mean.

But I do think that the article’s alternatives to Halloween make the idea of its celebration a little more agreeable to me. Here are the alternatives the article lists:

• Who needs ghosts and goblins, anyway? Dress your child up as any one of a number of “good-guy” heroes, from firefighters to doctors to Superman!
• Even better, have your child pick a Bible character such as King David, Moses, a Wise Man or an angel. What better way to honour the Bible, God’s Word?
• Talk with your kids about the difference between the dress-up devils they see running around the neighbourhood and the all-too-real devil that seeks to tempt them from their Christian walk.
• Give out treats with a Christian flavour such as Testamints (“A cross on each mint, a Scripture verse on each package”) or Noah’s Ark Gummy Animals (“The traditional chewy favourite with a Genesis spin”). Add a “God bless you!”
• Organize a Costume Night at your church and invite neighbourhood kids. Include fun activities such as bobbing for apples, and close with a short Bible lesson.
• As you tuck the kids into bed, say a special prayer for God’s protection and talk about the meaning of All Saints Day.

I STILL don’t think kids need all that candy. And I STILL don’t like the whole “trick” thing. But I guess if you think you have to celebrate Halloween, Ken Ramstead’s alternatives would make it a little more agreeable. HOWEVER… if you decide to err on the side of caution, your kids will survive without going trick-or-treating.

Ours did.


1 Response to “To Trick-or-Treat. Or Not”

  1. 1 Your Son October 22, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    We are actually not going “trick” or treating this year. We are instead participating in “trunk” or treat.

    Basically we set up in a parking lot, some people even decorating their cars, and kids go from car to car collecting candy. Many of these gatherings have other activities as well. It is a safer alternative to “trick” or treating, and more age appropriate for the boys. (We got tired of carrying them around last year.) Both the city and our church are sponsoring one of these events.

    My point in sending you the article was that there is no reason to exclude oneself from a particular holiday due to its pagan meaning. Most of our Christian holidays coincide with pagan holidays, for obvious political reasons. I believe it is better to have a positive alternative than to go into seclusion.

    For those of you who are not my mom, I was not secluded as a child. However, I have seen people exclude themselves and their children due to a particular belief and I simply do not agree with that. This is a conversation my mother and I have had several times and it is an ongoing debate. Overall, I view the entire trick-or-treating endeavor as a community event. It is a shame the the only time I talk to a majority of my neighbors is when we all go outside to look and see what the police are doing.

    And yes, Mom, I thought you were horribly mean for never letting me go trick-or-treating as a child.

    P.S. I got over it.

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