Happy Halloween =)
Happy Friday and welcome to the kitchen table! The coffee’s hot and the breeze is cool, my favorite time of year. With Halloween decorations being exchanged for Thanksgiving ones this week, I find myself remembering some pretty hilarious Halloweens…I’ll tell you about one….
I know everyone has a different idea about Halloween and how to celebrate it…I have that difference right here with my own kids, so I know the world is full of even more ideas. I have a couple kids who don’t mind Halloween, a couple who love Halloween, one that tolerates the paganism of Halloween and one who views it, probably, as another chore to get through (though I’m not positive about any of those assessments). I love Halloween because it ushers in this cozy and warm season, amber colored lights twisted around dried leaves and draped with black chiffon spider webs. A carved pumpkin laughing, sits on the fireplace and meringue “bones” make for a great smell in the kitchen and great snacks on the table.
Ogre Mouths! Yum
Is it scary? Yep. Some weird ole things find their way to the movie theaters and onto television during this time as well – things no one should watch, in my opinion. I know things like that are why people don’t like Halloween; such gruesome and harrowing images are a genuine glorification of a lot that’s wrong in the world. And I agree. My Halloween, however, is a fun Halloween. I think Jesus could walk right into my house and smile at the cuteness of laughing pumpkins and giggling spiders set atop their willowy webs. I have revisited the comical ghosts…”what do I think about ghosts?” I wondered one day as I walked through my house… So many of the kiddos I care for have parents who don’t believe in ghosts OR God; how should I be leading? And what about those horrifying movies that come out in droves this time of year? They should probably be out of your choice box altogether. But choice is the beauty of our differences.
This little Bear just buried his head when his mom said "Smile, Bear!"
As for me, I like a good spooky yarn. But I’m more along the lines of The Uninvited from 1937 or The 50’s version of The House on Haunted Hill; black and white movies with no un-predictable or twisted endings. To me, that’s a “manageable scare” with no lasting effects. Fine, but what about the “cute” magic movies? Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown and the like? I’ve wondered this Halloween, “would I sit down and watch that movie with Jesus?” I couldn’t come up with an answser, so this year I confined these “cute” movies to my family’s viewing because I know how they were raised and taught, and I know that a magic spell being depicted in a movie for entertainment, won’t cause them to want to take up witchcraft. For the ones in my care that may be vulnerable to such things, I stuck with It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for Halloween movies. It seemed like a fair choice that required no apology during this most controversial month.
Lily offset Halloween by going as Anne Hutchinson, from 1643.
Regardless of your view of Halloween and it’s pagan origins, whether you choose to celebrate or observe or ignore is a personal choice to be sure. And Halloween probably isn’t a significant place to take a stand. The truth of any day, holiday or otherwise, is that the Gospel saves when we yield to it. Do you want to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters? Great! Then throw a tract in with your Snickers bar. Want to go to your church Harvest Party? Super! Tape the address of your church onto your door and invite trick-or-treaters to it, too! Do you want to sit Halloween out completely? Fine, too. Just always be aware of segregating yourself from the “world”. We can’t lead others into Christ’s life when our own lives don’t show anything different to those who are looking for truth. My mom used to say (and still does), “You’re the only Bible some people will ever read.”
Benji and Abigail out for a good time Trick-or-Treating
Time for a story at the kitchen table. =) It isn’t scary, just a good memory…
The Halloween I was nine years old, our family had attended a party at church. We had also gone trick-or-treating after pumpkin carving earlier that evening and were now headed home for the night. It was just my mom and my brother and me, my dad wasn’t with us at the moment we arrived home…
As my mom turned the door key, we walked into a house filled with smoke. There was no fire, just an eery gloom hanging over everything….creepy. As we walked in (why would we have walked in?!), my mom flipped on the light switch and we saw our carved jack-o-lanterns sitting on the table - covered in soot. She said “It’s okay. Your dad just left them burning for us…”. Oh, I think now to how irritated she must’ve been as she pulled, from the first jack-o-lantern, a plastic candle holder (it was the 70s, I don’t think you could find a plastic candle holder these days if you tried!) that had caught fire and burned itself out while sitting in the wet pumpkin. We were fortunate, she said, that the house didn’t burn down. Well, yeah! The three of us felt the relief of the Halloween scare leaving us and we quickly settled back into bedtime rituals.
These aren't the pumpkins from that night, but seemed appropriate all the same
I started back to my room at the end of the hall to put on my pajamas. I remember very well, halting there in the hallway, unable to move or scream or run - there was someone in my bed. It seemed to me like hours and hours that I stood there motionless before I could finally move backwards down the hall. I got to my mom and told her what I’d found in my room. To my surprise, she bravely (as always) walked cautiously to the back of the house to see for herself what I had actually seen. When she came back, she said calmly, “There’s someone in Kevin’s bed, too…..go get Don.”
Now Don was our neighbor who lived on the next street over, about three houses distance from us. Don was a jovial, tough, cigarette smoking, gun totin’ roughneck who drove a tow truck for a living. He had two daughters who babysat us on a regular basis and a handsome son who was on his way to being just like his dad – a good thing. Of course, there was Don’s wife, Eileen. Equally tough, always kind and forever with a cigarette set just on the very edge of her bottom lip, no matter what she was doing or who she was talking to. After my mom and dad had separated, the whole family had become a kind of self-imposed protector of my mom’s – and my mom was grateful.
It makes me laugh now when I think of the times my mom had said in vain “Take the trash out” if it was anytime after sunset! Kevin and I wouldn’t breech the threshold of any door in that house without the bright light of day glaring on it. Tonight though, at 9:30, when she said “Go get Don”, we shot out the side door without a moment’s hesitation. As a side note, she stayed in the house. She was always like that, unafraid, but not foolish, and unwilling to give into things before she could accurately investigate them. My grandma Bethany told me once, “Bravery isn’t that you ain’t afraid, but that you can master your fear”.
Anyway, as Kevin and I ran up to their house, I noticed that the tow truck was gone – no Don – but we kept running at a mighty speed and landed on the front stoop of Don and Eileen’s house. Their house was only ever secured with a screen door (to give all the cigarette smoke a way out I imagine) and the front door was always swung fully open, so there was no knocking necessary. When you wanted anyone in the family, you just had to speak - and whoever you were seeking, just seemed to magically appear.
“Someone broke into our house!!!” Kevin and I both yelled at the same time. I saw Eileen tap the ash off her cigarette (that’s when houses had ashtrays), replace it properly on her bottom lip and hoist herself out of the orange recliner in which she had been sitting comfortably. Our safeguard was coming alive. In that three second time frame, I was comforted by the cozy living room with its brown and two-toned salmon and avocado green Waverly fabric sofa that faced the front door with two end tables each adorned with a wooden lamp complete with ballerina lampshades. Then, without question or hesitation, yelled herself: “Mike! Get your gun!!” She then raced the ten feet to the screen door and threw it open and the three of us took off running to our house, her leading. There had been no skepticism, no question, no conditions and no waiting. This bulwark of a woman meant to protect us from any possible harm and the fact that her husband was absent, made not one bit of difference.
As the three of us ran, Mike, who’d obediently done as his mother commanded, but left after we did, came bounding ‘round the corner and passed us, shotgun in hand, and got to our house first… House now secured, the five of us stood in my mom’s kitchen as the adults decided the next direction to take. Eileen took a long drag off her cigarette and then started to the back of the house where our bedrooms were. Mike was there, gun lowered but on guard; he didn’t lead his mom. Eileen got to my mom’s room first down the short hallway and turned her head to just give a little nod in that direction. As I look back now, I think it must’ve been here that she deduced something other than a break-in had occurred. She walked into my mom’s room and with full force, yanked the bedspread back to expose the sleeping person – only to discover a bed full of balloons!! Same in the other two rooms. She slowly turned and walked down the hall, told Kevin and I to get ready for bed and started talking to my mom.
I don’t know what they said, if anything really, but pretty quickly, my dad arrived at the side door – laughing already at the anticipation of the outcome of his fun joke. Ha! He got a different welcome than anticipated I bet! Seeing Mike there with his gun, and Eileen glaring at him through her coiling cigarette smoke, Kevin and me still out of breath and my mom, through eye-contact alone, giving full weight of her disappointment about having to have her drapes cleaned, probably made him want to turn around and try a re-entry. He had put the balloons in the beds thinking it would be a fun scare, which he thought would surely be intensified by the initial sight of the glowing jack-o-lanterns. Hmmm. This may be where I learned my hatred of practical jokes. We actually did all end up laughing before too long and have laughed at that story for years.
Baby Wolfgang as Yoda...
For me though, the defense that had been launched for our sakes that night by the Richardson’s, has warmed my heart over and over. I’ve wanted my kids to view me that way and I’ve vainly hoped to find another family that would be again to me, what they had been that night and so many others that followed. More importantly, that night changed my view of God and put Him in a new perspective when I considered how like Eileen Richardson He surely must be when I call for help. No question, no hesitation and I don’t have to fight to be heard – He grants me audience whenever I call his name because I trust in Him.
So as the Halloween decorations are now down, and we move into our Thanks and Giving month, I wish you Happy November. Take a moment today to remember God as your protector (minus the cigarette), “He is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), it’ll make you smile all day knowing that as you trust Him, he has your back. Thanks for sitting with me for a minute at the kitchen table. Talk to you soon!
Jack and my godson, Ethan... a pirate, THE Pirate, Capt. Jack Sparrow (classic). And Jack went as a traditional clown, taking a stand against the wrongful tainting of these sweet beings who've made a mission of making children laugh.