Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, it’s time for the youthful rebellion I couldn’t pull off in the days of my youth. Growing up Evangelical (and occasionally Pentecostal), Halloween was the actual work of the actual devil. Therefore, as children we were only allowed to participate in church-sanctioned activities, like dressing in non-scary costumes and attending the Harvest Festival in the church parking lot, or heading to the Fellowship Hall to watch a documentary on Satanic ritual abuse. In our church community, my parents were among the more liberal. I recall another parent asking my mom, “You allow your children to watch The Smurfs? Even though Gargamel practices witchcraft?” But there were plenty of things were weren’t allowed to do, including, but not limited to:
- Eating Count Chocula, or any of the other Monster cereals
- Watching other witchcraft-based features, such as:
- Hocus Pocus
- Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes
- Disney’s The Black Cauldron (which tipped my mom off with its suspicious PG rating)
- Anything with “Witch” in the title
- Small Wonder (which I assumed was because of its alignment with the dark forces, but turned out to be because my mom rightly found it too annoying to have on in the house.)
- Hocus Pocus
- Reading any of the Bernstein Bears books where anything is described as “spooky.”
- Carving jack-o-lanterns with spooky faces. It was okay to carve pumpkins with faces, as long as they looked good-natured. Turkeys were the preferred design. Especially if the the turkeys had accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.
- And, for a couple years, saying “Happy Halloween.” Instead, our youth leadership favored “Happy Hallowed King,” which took the focus off of Satan and put it back on Jesus, where it belonged.
Now that I’m older with a child of my own, I’ve decided that I’m committed to a spooky fall season. At least until like November 3, at which point I’ll be committed to a fall season of thankfulness and togetherness. My family and church really had a handle on the latter; lots of time was spent applying hot glue to fallen leaves and raffia for festive seasonal decor. But today, I’m doing something completely radical: I’ve eaten my morning bowl of Count Chocula, and I’m going to make Tootsie-Pop ghosts. They’ll be handed out to our trick-or-treaters, and might even line the lawn on Halloween. Last night I bought a package of something billing itself as “Spooky Fabric,” and I’ve placed it over the railing on the porch. I’m ready for this.
I also bought Charlie a book called Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin in preparation for taking him to the Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival last weekend. The book is not as spooky as I’d like, but it’s seasonally appropriate. He’s got a hand-me-down Cheerios Halloween activity book that is ridiculous, but that he loves. (It’s a heavy-handed marketing product. “Hey, kids! These ghosts need more Cheerios so their souls can be at peace! Can you help them? By buying Cheerios?”) We’re going to a Halloween party AND handing out candy. Yesterday we watched something on Netflix about Curious George’s scary something something pumpkin something. I’m gonna make the house look as haunted as I can. Because I’m an adult. So I’m gonna dress up my Tootsie Pops like their ghosts.