We arrived in America two years ago, just as Summer was ending and Fall was beginning. Autumnal sunshine, warm temperatures that contrasted with England…and then the Halloween decorations begun to appear.
House after house spun cobwebs over their front garden, buried supposed corpses in their yard and sat skeletons on their porch. Driving through our suburban streets was more sinister than the Fall sunshine suggested, and we struggled to know what to do with the holiday extravaganza that seemed to characterise the scariest date in the calendar.
Last year was no different, decorations going up earlier due to Covid and the need for something to distract. This year, I think we’ve noticed more hanging figures from trees and the houses of two years ago have stepped up their game to include horror-filled additions.
The boys flip flop between laughter at what they’re seeing and the odd nervous question as to what that hanging entity might be. Without realising it, I’ve become quick to say that a house has gone all out with a laugh, and I have two little parrots in the back seat who are quick to say the same. I have come to think laughter is the best way through because it suggests we don’t need to be afraid.
It’s a strange sight, and a tradition that is beginning to take hold in the UK but one that I think will always lag a little behind the American levels of ‘all out’.
For the first year here, I felt paralysed by it all, I think. Not quite knowing whether to engage or hide away until it was all over. The second year came with glorious sunshine and genuine delight at meandering through our neighbourhood with friends from our street. Costumes (the least sinister possible) donned by the boys, and bags full of sweeties and candy, and sunshine to banish the dark edges of it all.
And last year’s experience has shaped the way I’ve thought about it all this year.
We don’t love Halloween, but we love people. We don’t want to look at scary decorations, but we do want to see and connect with those living around us.We don’t want our boys to get into anything dark, but we do want to hold out the light and encourage them to as well. We don’t want our children be scared, but to know that God himself overcomes all of the darkness and those fears. We want the fun without the funny stuff.
This year, inspired by Nay Dawson and her interview with Faith in Kids, we went all out as a House of Light. Fully in the community and eager to connect with those around us, but wanting to be different. The one day of the year when people knock on our door, we sought to hold out a bit of Jesus. We gave our little bags, but also sought to get to know those around and about.
It wasn’t much, just a story, accompanied by sweets and a glow stick. But it was something. And who knows what will come out of it. Our windows spoke of Christ, and we’re praying that we are transparently of Him as we seek to love those who live around us.