A REALLY Scary Holiday

By Keith Lyndaker Schlabach Keith LS photo copy

I’m a pacifist but I swear if one of these scary creatures comes near my family I’m going to pass a fist right into his stomach.

We are making our way through a gauntlet of ghouls, my daughter crying tears of terror into her mother’s neck as we weave our way as fast as we can out of the fog-shrouded Kings Dominion.

Nightmare does not begin to describe the scene. We had a relatively nice day but then when night fell all Hell (literally) broke loose. We thought we could be in the general area and avoid some of the scarier rides but it was to no avail.

The fog rolled in and then so did the goblins. Screams filled the air as they chased people, generally preying on women and young girls. Finally my daughter had enough. So did our friends and us. We left.

It took my daughter a long time to stop crying. Even our teenage son who was disappointed about leaving early didn’t sleep well that night or have a very good rest of the weekend. I guess it has something to do with the trauma they experienced before we adopted them.

Halloween sure has changed since when I was a kid. For me it was all about getting some treats and maybe doing a trick or two. I think the worst we did was TP a house. One year, my buddies put a mannequin in the road.

I don’t have a problem with honoring the dead or reflecting on death. That is basically what All Hallow’s Eve is supposed to be about, preparation for All Saints Day. But what I don’t like about the current holiday is the emphasis on VIOLENT death. The amusement park even had a place where you could pay to get realistic bloody wounds put on your body. I saw a woman with a bullet wound in her chest.

Perhaps it is the increasingly graphic horror movie genre that has helped to create the current manifestation of blood, gore, sex, fear, and violence that is the Halloween of today. I don’t know. But on the final day of Domestic Violence Month, it saddens me that brutal violence against women and girls is such an integral part of these movies and the holiday.

So tonight we’ll pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters and say Hello to their parents, our friends and neighbors. But we’ll not be out on the streets.

You see this isn’t make believe for us. We’ve seen first hand what violence does to people, especially the survivors. No amount of masks, costumes and fake blood can cover the pain we work to heal every day.

So we spend time inside with our children and our friends who are on this journey of adoption with us. We share with each other how the journey is going. We laugh at the antics of Mr. Bean.

And my daughter, in her cookie monster costume, runs back and forth to the door, giving out handful after handful of candy to those who stop by.

She knows what it is like to be terrified. She knows what it is like to lose something precious. Tonight, I watch her and can’t help but smile. While so many others are taking, it does my heart good to see her so happy to be giving away.

Now that is a Holy-day.

Keith Lyndaker Schlabach lives in Mt. Rainier, MD near Washington DC. He divides his time between writing and attempting to live out the peaceable kingdom as husband to Rachelle, father of two children, and friend to two dogs and a bunny. He is the co-founder of PeaceGrooves, a project centered around the creation of alternative media, stories and games that reflect an Anabaptist nonviolent perspective.


6 thoughts on “A REALLY Scary Holiday

  1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Jonathan. Someone banging around with a turkey on his head is enough to cure most of what ails us. If we couldn’t laugh where would we be?

  2. The legacy of American Halloween is not good. Images of witches portrayed as elderly women with crooked teeth and dowager humps spreads a hideous stereotype of mature ladies. Stimulating the imaginations of tender children with fears of the deceased coming back to haunt the living is a form of child abuse being carried out for the sake of profit. We really must shut it down.

    • Shut it down or reclaim it as a more reflective time of honoring our ancestors and remembering the saints (ie All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day). Our church (like many) had a Harvest Festival and the church was PACKED – a delightful time of outreach and fellowship for our community.

  3. Thanks Keith for the graphic reminder that Halloween is not a Christian activity. Did you by any chance see some of the “wounds that bleed” masks? The more the wearer squeezed the bulb in his/her pocket, the greater the gushing of blood. Thanks for thinking of your kids. They need your love, not nightmare material. We adopted our kids – they’re adults now.

  4. Yes I have seen them. Yuk! Thank you so much for your encouragement. This adoption journey has not been easy as I am sure you are aware. Especially in trying to teach counter-cultural values. Blessings to you and to your children in the lives they are leading now in adulthood.

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