Friday, October 31, 2008

A Biblical Halloween

I was all set to post pictures of our jack o' lantern but it turns out Justin took the camera with him today. I'll wait and post the pictures when I have some costumed kiddos to show off as well. That is, if Mr. Blue consents to wear his costume. Even the promise of candy has not dispelled his misgivings about it. I'm disappointed because I thought he'd love being a puppy dog. No matter what, Miss Pink (who, confusingly, will be dressed as Blue the dog from Blue's Clues) will let me take pictures of her--she's a ham when the camera comes out.

I'll write about Halloween instead. It was never a big deal in our household when I was a kid. We dressed up and trick or treated, and I know we carved a pumpkin (at least some years), but beyond that, my mom didn't decorate the house or anything like that. Back then, it seemed that holidays were a lot more low-key, you know? My parents thought that buying us a costume and taking us around the neighborhood was plenty of effort on their part, and to tell the truth, I feel the same way. I admire the cute decor, but no way am I going to the effort to decorate the house. I barely get the house decorated for Christmas, so don't expect me to go all out for the lesser holidays. Martha Stewart I am NOT.

At least my kids will have normal costumes, though. As you might remember, my dad is a pastor. My parents weren't against the idea of Halloween, but some churches are. When churches started having Fall Festivals to substitute for the "evils" of asking for candy while dressed up, our church got on the bandwagon and had a festival with all the little games for the kids, a cakewalk for the elderly people, and so on. (It was before bounce houses, though; man, that makes me feel old.) I guess the church leaders were in a dilemma about costumes, lest someone's kid come dressed as Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street. But instead of saying "No gory costumes, please," their solution was to ask us to come dressed as Bible characters.

Yes. Bible characters. Way to limit the participation to church members only. Plus, there's not a lot of variety in the way those people dressed. Bathrobe, towel tied around your head: how was anyone supposed to know if you were Moses or Elijah?

But my mom threw herself into those years like never before. I cannot remember one single costume during the years when we trick-or-treated, but I remember the Bible costumes. One year I was Queen Esther, with an embroidered robe that really came from Israel (gasp) and a scepter made from a foam ball glued onto a dowel and spray-painted gold. Trust me when I tell you that this was major for my non-crafty mom to accomplish. She even had me practice walking regally and curtsying. I won the costume contest that year.

The next year, perhaps inspired by the win the year before, Mom decided my brother and I should be Joshua and Caleb. I don't even remember minding that I went from being a queen to dressing up as a dreaded BOY. We wore the bathrobe-looking outfits but the real glory was the grapes we carried. The scepter was spray-painted brown and each of us carried an end, and in between hung a bunch of grapes. Each grape was a balloon wrapped in purple crepe paper, and all together they made an impressive bunch of grapes. (I don't know why she couldn't have just gotten purple balloons. Perhaps, like the bounce houses, they didn't exist.) We won that year too.

After that, I don't think they required Bible character costumes any more*, perhaps realizing that when a pastor's wife sets herself to out-Bible everyone else, she's going to win at all costs, even the cost of her children's Halloween memories. Because seriously, I don't remember having a really cool costume any other year. But the important thing is, I remember getting a lot of candy, even if I'm still bitter about my mom taking away any Pixie sticks I got in case they turned out to contain LSD, which I have since learned is a total urban legend.

But my mom's paranoia is another story for another time.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

*this might not be accurate; my brother or my friend Leann may be able to correct me here.



  1. It's not actually an urban legend. In 1976, a guy named Ronald Clark O'Bryan killed his son with a poisoned pixie stick. To cover up his crime, he passed them out to other kids too. I think that's the year the paranoia about Halloween candy really started.

    My mom and dad didn't do anything spectacular when were kids either, but my Mom goes all out for the grandkids.

  2. This post is hysterical. It belongs in a movie or something.. I was picturing the costumes the whole time.

  3. Lol... I remember dressing up with my brother as Mary and Joseph and going across the street to *one* neighbor house for candy.

    Yeah, we didn't really do Halloween.

  4. Hmmmm... I think I would have gone as one of the beasts from Revelations or the whale.

    LSD pixi stix, thats great. I learned that the only halloween candy poisonings were done by family members, no razer blade in the apples or anything.

  5. I remember the pixie stick thing! I have the awful feeling that it happened in my town at the time (Houston), actually. Killed his son for the insurance money. Geez, what a panic that set off!

    I loved your story about the Bible characters - hilarious!

    After the wretched excess we saw trick-or-treating tonight, I think we've lost sight (for the most part) of the simpler pleasures of Halloween.

    Hope you had a good one...

    :^) Anna

  6. You should check out this commentary on Halloween hatin'. I think it will amuse you.

    This is a family time and a community time. This is one of the very few events where an entire community comes out, puts down the playstation and nintendo, turns off the tv and mingle with each other. If some evangelical fear mongers had not convinced parents that satan was inside every pumpkin this would be a no brainer. Please consider the sheer amount of children who have participated in Halloween and did not end up in a cult. What does it say about “Christianity” that when a community interacts and shares together we get self righteous and imply that they are worshipping the dark lord? If your trick or treat experience involves a liturgy to satan YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!!! YOU ARE JUST SUPPOSED TO BE ASKING FOR CANDY!


  7. Oh my gosh, I'm on your blog roll! SO flattered. Thanks!

  8. HA! I have a mental image of your mom looming over her sewing machine all sweaty and determined to win! Any pictures of those costumes? The biblical ones?

  9. This post made me LOL, and not just because I was actually there. The line about out-Bibling others was hilarious!

    I don't remember whether you're wrong on the costumes, so let's just say you're right.