Growing up, I didn’t celebrate Halloween. It was considered Satan’s holiday and I was not allowed to have any part of it.
Every year on October 31st, we would turn off all the lights in the house, shut the blinds, and stay quiet while ignoring the possessed sounds of happy children dressed as cabbage patch dolls, cowboys, and witches, begging for candy.
And then every year, on the morning of November 1st, my siblings and I would hunt for candy droppings in the front yard. We’d get on our hands and knees and search between every blade of grass, hoping for a piece of hubba bubba or, God help us, a Snickers. Ah, those were good days.
It wasn’t always that extreme though. I remember dressing up for Halloween once when I was younger. My two sisters and I wore oversized dresses, put towels on our heads, and held sticks (we were shepherds) and my infant brother was baby Jesus. We didn’t trick or treat or anything. We just dressed up and took a picture quickly before the other kids came and the real evil started.
As I got older, we didn’t want to be stuck at home on Halloween when everyone else was out catching diabetes. So we’d go to church, where they always had some big party going on. These were usually referred to as a “Harvest Festival” or “Hallelujah Party.”
You didn’t find kids dressing up as ghosts or goblins at these parties, no siree. But you’d find a few Jonahs, maybe one or two Marys, and there were always at least a dozen Jesuses.
It was at one of these events that someone handed me a Bible tract that I’ll never forget. I opened it up and inside it told the story of a kid that went trick or treating and bit an apple with a razor blade in it. And he died. And the other side showed a kid getting poisoned from eating a piece of candy. Basically, it scared the Halloween out of me and I never really wanted to celebrate after that night.
And then I had kids.
Since neither my husband or I grew up celebrating Halloween, we never really gave it much thought. But once the kids realized they were missing out on wearing a costume and getting a pillowcase full of candy, we decided to take them trick or treating. And, let me tell you, it was scary.
We drove to a good neighborhood -- we figured rich people were less likely to poison adorable kids dressed as My Little Ponies -- plus we heard rumors of them giving out full-sized snickers. Eek! We were both excited and super nervous. We held their hands and walked them to the first house. What are they supposed to say again? Oh yeah -- “Say ‘trick or treat’ kids!”
And then the unimaginable happened. They didn’t die.
House to house. Door to door. Everyone opened up, smiled, gave them candy, and sent them on their way. Nobody tried to cut them or steal their soul. I was shaking I was so happy -- well, that may have been from the pound of Swedish Fish I ate after they went to bed. I had just discovered the fun that is Halloween and I had a lot of full-size Snickers bars to catch up on.
So now my family celebrates Halloween. My girls dress up and collect candy from strangers to their heart’s content one night a year. And they can even carve scary faces into pumpkins.
But they absolutely, positively canNOT celebrate Satan. I mean, I had to put my foot down somewhere, right?
My siblings and I, Halloween '86. I'm the cross-eyed cutie on the left.