Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hallelujah Day Pictures (or why I haven't quilted)

I'm going to start this post a little differently than the typical "Look what I did today" post. I want to discuss a topic that is very much a "hot button" for Christians. On October 31st there is a celebration that happens every year. That's what most people think. When most folks hear the date "October 31st" one word comes to mind: Halloween. For me, it is a different story.

First, October 31st is celebrated in our family for a different reason. It is my Mom's birthday. It also happens to be the day after my Sister-in-law's birthday. My mom turned 75 this year! If you didn't see her story on Facebook and want to know how amazing it is that she is here, starting with her birth, ask me & I'll share it with you. I won't share my SIL's age. When she's 75 & we start counting birthdays again I might. LOL!

Next, October 31st was the day many, many, many years ago that Martin Luther (the German, not ML King) nailed his 500 theses to the door of a monastery. Here is how I remember that story going and you are free to correct me. He had joined the monastery. As he studied the Word of God (the Bible), he began to see fallacies  in the teachings of the church in Germany at that time. He wrote these down and on 10/31 in that year a LONG, LONG time ago, he nailed it to the door of the monastery. Today, the Lutheran church is named after him and many protestant churches would say they were "born" out of that event.

Okay, so for the rest of the folks, 10/31 is Halloween. Most of us grew up loving this day. Candy, costumes, candy, more candy, and more candy....what wasn't to love? We dressed in cheap nylon costumes with plastic masks (remember those with the tiny elastic that always broke?). Sometimes we might have a homemade costume. As I got older I'd make my own costume. In college I was a blue Crayon one time! I loved dressing up. Of course, there was always the invasion of witches, ghosts, and goblins and a haunted house or 2. I never liked the super scary, though, so it was the "fun" witch stuff. Stay with me if you're already tuning out with those words!

Many of us grew up and as we grew in our faith in the Lord we started learning what the origins of Halloween were. The Druids, the pagans, etc. Though, originally, if I remember correctly, that was a whole different event that later got tied in with the superstition of Halloween (appeasing evil spirits) the night before All Saints Day in the Catholic church. It made me want nothing to do with Halloween. At all. I would even hear Christians say that it was the devil's day. It was a day of evil. It was a day that we should avoid.

Then I heard some wisdom from a dear sister in the Lord. It was as simple as this, "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Ps. 118:24. She told me that she realized that by saying it was the devil's day we were giving him the glory. EVERY day is God's day. Did she mean we should go celebrate Halloween? No. But she did remind me that we need to claim EACH day as a gift from God to not give our enemy a foothold.

Next came the issue of what to do with kids on 10/31. When they were little it was easy: Celebrate Mammaw's birthday! We weren't home to deal with the trick or treaters, etc. As they got a bit bigger I thought we might go to some fall festivals, though I wondered if kids still saw those as Halloween and didn't make the distinction that it was to celebrate the good things of the Lord. I THOUGHT that's what we'd do. But things don't always work as we think they will. We discovered our elder child had autism. Mild, but autism none the lest. We tried a church festival. It didn't work. In fact, it failed. Miserably. The poor child had the deer in the headlights look the whole night and did NOTHING. I knew this was not going to work for us.

Somewhere along the line I decided to hand out candy. I wanted to share the BEST treat of all: the love of Jesus. So, I made up some little cards that said "Jesus is the sweetest treat of all" with a Bible verse. I knew kids well enough (I had a degree in kids, after all) to know that that alone would get tossed. So I attached it to candy and handed it out. Sweet little Bethany, all of 3 or 4 at the time, knew people would come for candy, but didn't understand the whole concept. She asked me, "When are the friends coming?"

As much as we tried to avoid the ugliness that comes with Halloween, it was impossible to do. People decorate for that day around here like it's Christmas. And in stores, you just can't avoid it. I'll never forget the day we were in the grocery store parking lot and tiny Bethany (only 3 or so) asked me, "Who's the white guy?" She spoke early, and clearly. And literally. I had no idea this was part of Asperger Syndrome (her form of autism) at the time. Turned out the "white guy" was a huge ghost atop the store entry.

After much debating & praying, we decided to try trick or treating with the girls. First, dressing up was no problem. Most kids love to dress up now & then. My kids loved to dress up daily. They were often "in character." From Cleopatra to the "Nerds" to dj's, and so much more, we never knew who they would be from day to day. Of course they loved candy. As my niece recently wrote, "A day for dressing up and candy. What's NOT to love?" LOL! I decided to use this event, this going from house to house dressed in costume begging for candy, as a social skills lesson. After all, who doesn't want their kids growing up to beg from others? Just kidding. For Bethany, it was an opportunity for her to practice on grand scale looking at people and saying words to them. It was scripted, "Trick or treat." She didn't have to converse. She did have to follow up with "Thank you," though. Now, if anyone asked a question, I'd have to feed her words to say. For Natalie all of these reasons were a non-issue. She's adhd. She loved the fall festival. She was happy to play every game---if she could win. She still leads the charge on 10/31 and determines which houses have people home or not and precisely how long to stay at each door.

From the beginning of the "white guy" I've been telling the girls how we don't celebrate evil. We've talked repeatedly about how death is NOT something to be celebrated, mocked, and glorified. I don't mean to be this way, but I have to admit that I am literally repulsed by cemeteries in people's yards and costumes that are images of death and evil. The people don't repulse me. I know under the costume is a human. But I am just super sensitive to these things. Maybe because I lost a brother when he was 17. I've seen too many people die early. Death is only beautiful when it is the passing of a believing soul into the arms of Jesus. But killing of people, or the depiction of it, is not beautiful. I could barely get through Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl when Natalie & I had to read it.

Some of you will agree with me. Some of you will adamantly disagree with me. That's okay. My convictions are not yours, and yours are not mine. We are to hold one another accountable, but ultimately, we have to stand before the Lord with our accounts.

Above are this year's costumes for 10/31. Nat wanted a Renaissance dress and we hope to find a family friendly fair to visit next year. She just can't grow much. LOL! Bethany created her cat costume. The red hair is just because she wanted to see it redder than it's natural reddish-strawberry color and knew I'd only let her do it that day.

Below are some of the MANY costumes they've had over the years. BTW, Bethany is currently filming and producing a movie for a homeschool literature project and was dressed up today as a man from the 1860's. Dress up is NOT just for Halloween!

"When I grow up I want to be a pig." Natalie, age 3

Red boots go with EVERYTHING!

They even made the grandmothers dress up!
About the title of this post: I used to call 10/31 Hallelujah Day. I then thought of the meaning of the word "Halloween." Hallow: holy, E'en: evening. Holy Evening. I like that. It's not what the originators meant it to be. It's not what 99% of folks today mean it to be. But it's a name I like. A reminder to live holy lives daily. May every evening be a Holy Evening and may every day be one in which we rejoice that THIS is the day the Lord has made!

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