Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To Treat Or Not To Treat

Smile FM Explores Alternatives To Traditional Halloween Activities

By Brian Dumont

October is here and fall is officially upon us.  It’s the time of year that brings a variety of exciting seasonal favorites including football, cider & donuts and for a lot of people, Halloween.  I know some are sensitive to the negative spiritual connotation associated with Halloween.  If that is you, I completely respect your position and will not be offended if you skip on to the next article at this point.  However, if you are open to the possibility that Halloween could be more than just an excuse for kids to dress up in scary costumes, and gallivant about the neighborhood begging for candy from strangers, please continue reading.

First, consider the alternatives offered to traditional Halloween activities.  Many churches will host a “harvest party” or “trunk-or-treat” event at their place of worship.  Kids still get to dress up and get candy, and maybe even get a little something more.  My church has been doing what we call a “Hallelujah Party” for as long as I can remember.  It’s set up like a carnival where kids play games and win candy.  Then at the end of the event everyone gathers in the sanctuary for a big prize drawing and while waiting, they are presented with a gospel message and an opportunity to receive Jesus.  The end result is a lot of fun, a lot of candy and a lot of new souls added to the Kingdom of God.  In the time my kids have grown up thousands have attended this annual event and hundreds (if not thousands) have made decisions for Christ.  That’s just at my church.  Imagine what kind of effect alternatives like this can have on the community as a whole when everybody participates. 

Of course, if you’re going to attend a Halloween alternative, you might want to consider costumes.  Depending on the event, costumes may be encouraged or frowned upon, so be sure to check with the organizers ahead of time to find out what is appropriate.  In the case where costumes are part of the festivities, let me offer this suggestion… dress like the good guys.  Stay away from traditional secular costumes like witches and devils and go for something a little less associated with the dark side.  When in doubt, side with the good guys.  For example, if you’re choosing between going as Batman or the Joker, choose Batman because he’s the good guy.

Since we’re talking about costumes, I’m feeling compelled to share some of my favorites from over the years.  I’ve always loved theatre and acting, so putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else tends to come naturally.  Halloween happens to be the one time of the year where I don’t get strange looks for doing so.  One year in elementary school I found an old snowman costume leftover from a Christmas play.  I didn’t really want to be a snowman at the time, so I made some modifications, added a piece of yellow material, a hula hoop and ta-da…  I went as a fried egg!  As an adult I’ve dressed up as fan favorites like Mr. Incredible and Nacho Libre, but I think my favorite costumes were some that I made for my kids to wear.

One year when my oldest son was in elementary school I asked him what kind of costume he wanted to wear.  He said, “Optimus Prime” from that year’s incarnation of Transformers.  One problem, the franchise wasn’t quite so popular back then.  No costumes available to purchase.  So I did one better…  I made a costume from scratch!  A little cardboard, some duct tape and paint…  okay, it was a LOT of cardboard, duct tape and paint…  and probably way to many hours invested into the project, but I was …  er, I mean, HE was the star of the show.  That year I also made a box of cereal for my youngest son to wear.  He didn’t care for it so much, but everyone else thought it was the cutest thing ever.  Wait, what were we talking about again?  Oh, that’s right…  Halloween alternatives.

For years, I used to only participate in church related alternatives to Halloween.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with the “negative spiritual connotation” I mentioned earlier, so if there wasn’t another option on Halloween night I would simply turn off the porch light and ignore the kids walking by.  But more recently I’ve been wondering if I’ve missed something.  I’m thinking, what if I could use this opportunity to make a difference somehow?  Kids are coming to my house with the expectation of receiving a free gift.  Maybe I could give them something that would really change their lives.  In the Bible, when a lame beggar asked Peter and John for a handout, they gave him a healing instead (Acts 3:1-10).  Now, I’m not planning to set up a revival tent meeting on my front porch or anything (not this year, anyway), but maybe handing out candy to the kids on my block is a good way to show the love of Jesus to my neighbors.  And if I happen to be playing Smile FM in the background, that might not hurt either.

If you are looking for Halloween alternatives in your community, please visit Smile FM’s Family Fun Calendar to find suggestions of events happening near you.  Or if your church is hosting such an event, you can post the information there for others to see as well.  And if you’re planning to pass out candy from your front porch, let your light shine and do it with a smile.  In the meantime, I have a Nacho Libre costume to try on and make sure it still fits.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Wish I could have hung with you guys when I wasn't letting my kids touch Holloween. God bless you, you are so fun!