Why I Don’t Do Spooky Halloween

Oct 30, 2017 by

 

By Nicole Russell –

When I was a young adult, I used to believe that watching a Stephen King film or reading one Stephen King novel every year and feeling utterly scared out of your mind was good for a person’s psyche. I’m not entirely sure what prompted this idea but it likely grew from the same impulse that leads many people to enjoy haunted houses, freaky corn mazes with spooky sounds, Halloween decorations that turn their front yards into creepy graveyards.

Eventually my annual Stephen King obsession waned but I never did indulge in decorating my home in a spooky manner. My lack of Halloween spirit didn’t seem to matter much until I had kids, however. As my kids have reached an age where dressing up and going trick-or-treating is fun, they’ve also pressed—nay, demanded—that I hang spider webs, buy skulls that light up, and put black cat decals on the windows, to name just a few of their ideas. There’s nothing wrong with putting on a fun outfit and asking the neighbors for a giant candy bar, of course, but I purposely don’t do spooky Halloween and prefer instead to focus on ideas associated with harvest.

Why? While most people go to haunted houses and decorate in a ghoulish way for pure fun—there is a scientific reason behind why thrill seekers enjoy the feeling of fear—there is an element of reality behind supernatural phenomena of evil. Historians and philosophers have opined about supernatural things such as ghosts, devils, demons and the like, for millennia. Not everyone believes in the devil but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

I happen to believe the devil is real and thus I have no desire to mix with, make fun of, perpetuate, or glorify, supernatural things related to him like goblins, witches, haunted graveyards, and possessed babies. If psychomancy is real, why dabble in it? In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” While my kids likely don’t share this attitude, I find the focus on witches and goblins to be depressing at best, morbid at worst.

Instead of focusing on the negative things often associated with hard-core Halloween fanatics, I put pumpkins, burlap, “Apple Cider” candles, and “Give Thanks” decor around my home. Kitschy? Perhaps. I talk to my kids about how important the concept of harvest is to our vocational lives and our spiritual and mental well-being. The Bible says Christians should make every effort to do good “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Here, the Greek word for “reap” translates as “Reward of well-doing.” It’s a concept even young children can understand, whether they apply it to doing homework, being kind to their friends, or obeying their parents. If we work hard and experience the reward of well-doing, it leads us to be thankful for harvest, to live each day with gratitude for both the gift of work and the rewards it reaps. All three of these ideas—work, reaping reward, and thankfulness—are all infinitely more beneficial to my children than a giggle prompted by a spooky fake graveyard scene or a momentary adrenaline rush from a lit-up skull in my dining room.

Last year, the ideas I had as a young person about the benefits of being scared were put to rest when I heard Stephen King at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. As keynote speaker, he gave a great speech about politics, writing, and fear. Then, during the question and answer period afterward, a skinny teenager with a speech impediment stood at the microphone and asked with as much boldness as he could muster, “Whatttt. scarrressss youuu, Mr. Kiiiing.” (The young man’s courage through his struggle made the question seem that much more profound.) The audience waited with silent anticipation. Mr. King had scared us all these years. Didn’t we have a right to know what scared him?

“Losing my ability to communicate; losing my faculties,” King replied. That King, a man whose books and movies have terrified millions, would fear not the supernatural, but natural realities that might remove his ability to articulate, seemed sad yet profound. All these years he’s dabbled in darkness and helped readers feel a mix of adventure, drama, and fear, yet the unknown still scares him most. I left with the impression that it is better to live a life of thankfulness, inspired by the realities of work and reaping the reward of work, than to trifle with darkness, even at Halloween.

Source: Why I Don’t Do Spooky Halloween – Acculturated

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