My phone calendar starting buzzing yesterday morning at 5:50 with all the reminders I had.
‘Send salty snack with Zachary.’
‘Send cookies/drinks with Josiah’
‘Nolan and Josiah wear orange for Anti-bullying campaign.’
‘Zachary dresses up for class party – nothing scary’
I have to include really specific notes like ‘nothing scary’ for obvious reasons.
We turned in the school parking lot on 2 wheels, like always, and hopped out of the van. As I loaded up my arms with 3 boxes of capri-suns, a bag of animal crackers, and a tray of store-bought (because we CANNOT send anything homemade…..(pre-made cookies are $6.00)) cookies and started across the parking lot with 2 older orangely dressed children and 1 younger power-rangers mega force guy with a green lantern cape and sword, I realized how ridiculous I may have looked. Suddenly Nolan yelled,
‘MOM! You have to hide that sword! We are not allowed to have ANY weapons in school’.
So, I shoved it under the tray of cookies and took them to the school classroom. I then dropped Zachary off at preschool and planned my almost immediate return so I could watch, photograph, and enjoy ‘Halloween 2013’.
Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. It’s just not my thing. It may have to do with my parents not putting a particular emphasis on it either. I don’t remember any of my costumes. I just remember one year my brother wanting to be a skeleton. My mother would not hear of buying a pre-made costume from the store and attempted to create a skeleton out of panty hose, a pillowcase, and magic marker. My mom is many things, but an artist is not one of them. The thing I remember about that costume is how sorry I felt for Jeremy having to wear it in public.
So even though it’s not my thing, I do it. I just fall in and go with the flow and participate and dress them up and set reminders about who is supposed to be what when and where and get the pumpkins and mums and so on and so forth. This morning, I asked my husband if we could carve our pumpkin tonight, since we only have 2 days to let our light shine before I dispense of all things fall and get on to real holidays, like Christmas and well, just Christmas. He responded like this, ‘how about we ask the boys what they would rather do, blow up the pumpkin or make a cutesy face on it.’
So, pumpkin bombs are a thing at our house. Michael makes them explode. So, obviously, I was outvoted and vetoed.
Cut to the preschool party.
After the parents arrived with cameras to photograph their children eating cheese doodles and candy-corn cupcakes, we filed out to the pumpkin patch to hear a pumpkin story by a precious elderly church lady. After she finished explaining to the children how God makes pumpkins just like he makes children, that each is special and unique no matter what they look like, she asked them, “Do any of you have a special pumpkin with a face on it at home?”
“Oh Yes!!” they all excitedly share.
‘Mine has a funny face!’ -one kid yells.
‘Mine has a scary face!’ -says another.
‘My dad explodes our pumpkins!’ – says Zachary.
And the perimeter of parents, in unison, turned their heads to look at me. The moms in shock, the dads in curiosity. And I just nodded that yes, we do blow up our pumpkins. I know, the swords and bombs sound so violent, and, I mean, we don’t even hunt for crying out loud.
‘Did you say explodes?’ answered the sweet little story teller.
‘Yes!’ he replied.
‘Uhm. Hmm….” was all she could say as she finished with the song “This little light of mine”….you know for those who put candles in their pumpkins….which don’t get blown up.
So we happen to live in a culture which has this tradition of dressing up like someone/something else, knocking on doors, and expecting candy when the phrase ‘trick-or-treat!’ is excitedly shrieked. Historically there are some questionable practices also associated with this day. And I certainly understand and respect any Christian who has the conviction to abstain from its participation.
But, after some very casual google research, the holiday is also historically known for community gatherings in which the harvest is celebrated around a big bonfire. Last Friday night, we had 40 of our closest friends to our home for a bonfire. The idea was to have a relaxed agenda, enjoy one another’s company, paint some pumpkins, and ok, blow up some pumpkins. In our individualistic, me-focused culture, I am all about spending time in community. False connectivity via social media is a great tragedy of our generation. If having a bonfire and blowing up a pumpkin brings people together, then I’m about it. And I don’t think that puts my Christianity in question. In fact, if anything, being in community greatly enhances my walk with Jesus.
And I think that any time Light shines in the midst of darkness, that is a good thing too.
So, tonight, as we head out, dressed as various superheroes and such, I hope that we the church can let our little Lights shine. That can look like a million things. For the Coats family, it was a bonfire. For another, it will be serving food at their church. For another, a literal front porch light on that beckons others to come and be welcomed into their typically individualistic space. Because we are called to let our Light shine every day (Mt. 5:16), including (and perhaps especially?) Halloween. May we shine in such a way that we represent Christ to a world who so desperately needs Him.
<ENTER CUTE PICTURE OF SOFTLY SHINING FAMILY JACKOLANTERN>
…..alas, I have only pumpkin fragments.