Josh Byers


Writing about books, culture, ministry, design and my family

Halloween, Tradition and our New Neighbors

Here in Iowa we're a little weird and celebrate Halloween on the 30th of October in a tradition known as Beggar's Night. For whatever reason this year more articles, blogs and Facebook posts have been published on why or why not one should participate in this odd little Holiday. Now it's not my purpose to forcefully defend one view or the other but rather explain what I've chosen for my family and why we do it. But first a little background...

Tradition and Family

I grew up in Colorado and like most normal states celebrated Halloween on October 31st. From as far back as I can remember we had multiple traditions around the Fall and Halloween.

When the weather started to cool my mom would start to make things including chili and blubbery muffins and our costumes. Probably the best costume ever was a shark costume I wore that conveniently doubled as "Jonah in the whale" for church related activities though a close second was the "pirate" costume I made that consisted of jeans and a Raiders sweatshirt...

Closer to the actual holiday we would pick pumpkins from my dad's garden and carve them. This was the best because I got to use the "sharp" knives and I was always very responsible. In fact I would never stab my pumpkin repeatedly and throw pumpkin guts all over.

On Halloween night it was all about the candy and when it was all said and done me and my siblings would empty our haul on the kitchen table and compare. This usually ended up with my little brother and sister crying because they didn't get as much as me and mom putting all the candy into one big bowl.

As I think back my parents made this holiday about family and tradition. I have no memories about anything sinister, evil or weird. I only have memories about a time when my family came together to do a ton of fun things that ended up in me eatings massive amounts of candy. In short those are some of the best memories I have.

For that reason alone I wanted to pass it on to my kids in the hopes that they would also remember some very precious times as family.

We've carved fun pumpkins almost every year and we help our kids with their costumes. This year I made Mia's official id badge so she could be just like mom.

We also dump our candy out, compare and sometimes meticulously arrange it and mix it all together in a big bowl.

But as we've done all these things its always been about us coming together as a family.

New Opportunities

This year is a little different as we are in a brand new community, and from a conversation I had with a friend realized what a great opportunity it is to actually meet your neighbors.

In our culture with the rise of technology we don't often feel the need to step outside as much. Everything we could possibly want is offered to us within our homes so it takes some actual effort to get outside. And even if you do not many of your neighbors will have chosen to do the same at the same time. So the conversations you might have once had aren't happening as often. I saw this first hand up in our previous community where I barely knew some of our neighbors.

But on Halloween its different. Nearly every door in the community is open to strangers. Your whole neighbored is walking around and most everyone is in a good mood (well except the die hard Cardinals fan who was missing the World Series...). But the point is that there is not another night during the year where your neighborhood is more accessible to meet and talk to people as it is on Halloween.

So last night as I took my daughter out into our new neighborhood I introduced myself to as many people as possible.

It was incredible.

I met some very nice folks, had wonderful conversations with them, made connections with other people we had in common and in general felt a part of the community. As a pastor looking to love my neighbors I couldn't dream of a better opportunity.

So whatever your view on Halloween is and whatever your level of participation might be, I would encourage you to take the opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors. Be a blessing to your community. Show love to the kids that live around you and be a light in a world filled with darkness.

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