Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why You CAN be a Good Neighbor without trick-or-treating

Well, here goes nothing...

With all of the Halloween posts flying around I felt compelled to share my 2 cents. Hopefully it is worth more than that. Here's the thing....

I love my neighbors and people in general, but we choose not to "celebrate" Halloween (currently)

I think pendulums swing from one side to the other in many "hot button" issues of The Church, Halloween being one of them. I am not a fan of "bubble Christianity" and totally understand that the way Christians have handled many issues, including Halloween, for generations past gives off a sense of judgement and pride. I get that. And before we get any further, let me go on record saying I don't fit in the "right-winged tee-totaller conservative Christian" box. I would probably consider myself a libertarian and I tend to be conservative in some areas and liberal in others (legalize marijuana please)! I am not a hermit that is hiding away from the world. The pendulum seems to have now swung in the direction of telling those believers who do not celebrate Halloween that they must not be missional and that they are missing out on the best night to meet their neighbors.

There are many Christians (and people in general) that love people and their neighbors but for whatever reason, do not desire to participate in the festivities of Halloween. I am a pretty black and white person and if there isn't a really clear reason for me to do something, like celebrate a holiday, I probably won't do it. Based on the history of Halloween I really can't find a reason I should celebrate. I get the point that most people don't know the history and it is just a fun holiday! Great for you if you are okay with that, really. I so wish God had wired me as more of a "grey" person, but I really find it hard to just join in when I can not find a good reason to.

So, if you don't hand out "treats" does that mean you don't love or like your neighbors?


Here are a few reasons why people may not hand out candy or go trick or treating:

  1. They may feel convicted to not participate in Halloween. Please do not judge these people and assume they are judging you. They may even smile when they see pictures on facebook of their friends' kids dressed up, but they do not feel the freedom to participate. Some believers, like myself, are very sensitive and convicted about things based on the history or the origin of holidays and traditions. It does not mean believers who do not participate are mean or hermits. We have never handed out candy or trick or treated, and yet we know just about all of our neighbors in the 40+ houses on our block and most have been to our home for different events throughout the years. We want to get to know our neighbors all throughout the year and find other opportunities to do so. I hope all people will do this, regardless of religion. Knowing your neighbors is a great thing!
  2. There may not be a culture of trick or treating on their block. Even people who want to trick or treat in their neighborhood may find that no one is interested. Our block seems to have been "trick or treat" free for so long that it is basically non-existent now. A neighbor friend of mine even tried to get it going last year to no avail. Some neighborhoods just may not get into the groove of trick or treating despite the efforts of other neighbors. Maybe the old widows do not feel safe passing out candy to strangers or maybe the families trick or treat in other family members neighborhoods. Who knows?
  3. It may not be safe. Some people may live in cities or neighborhoods where they do not feel safe going door to door. This may be a real or perceived feeling, but either way they do not feel safe. Our neighborhood has a lot of older teenagers come trick or treating that are from other neighborhoods. If I were 80 and home alone I would not want to open the door to teenagers I had never met in the middle of a big city (Memphis in my case) on a dark night.
  4. Church or Community Alternatives may be the best option for some people. If your neighborhood doesn't trick or treat or you do not feel it is safe, maybe you prefer to invite your neighbors and friends to go to a church alternative like a fall fest or trunk or treat. Many churches do a great job reaching out to the community and providing a safe alternative to trick or treating. In inner city Memphis this may be the best option for many kids and I have heard of several that do a great job of loving on underprivileged kids. This is great! 
  5. Some people do not like candy, eat candy, etc. You could call me anti-candy when it comes to my kids and mostly to me, and you would be right. Even if we felt comfortable participating in Halloween (who knows, one day we may) I have no idea what we would do to celebrate since the whole holiday revolves around food coloring and sugar filled gross candy. Yep, I would be the house handing out juice boxes and play dough.  :)
  6. Lastly, many kids are really sensitive to scary things. There may be some years, in the height of night terrors and fearful imagination phases, when some families may opt out of Halloween for a year, or even just find something else for that particular kid. This is a very valid reason for not participating or handing out candy, since you have no idea what kind of costumes you will see or what will come to your door.  It is a good thing to be a sensitive parent and there will always be next year.
This is the most comprehensive list I can think of. I have read so many blogs, some with an air of judgement and most not, telling me that to love my neighbors and be missional I should trick or treat. But I don't think it is that easy.  Creating a culture of community and being a good neighbor can start at anytime. And we should be checking in on neighbors and being a good neighbor and meeting our neighbors and having neighbors to our home whether or not we celebrate Halloween.

So be a good neighbor 365 days of the year and celebrate Halloween or don't, because being a good neighbor takes a lot more than handing out candy one day a year. 

Here are some great ways to cultivate community and meet your neighbors...
40 Simple Ways to Build Community in your Neighborhood

That's all for now. :)

P.S. I do love pumpkins and all things fall, so please invite me to your fall events. :)