Opening the Door on Halloween


I wanted to be a ‘lights on’ Christian.”

By Daniela Schwartz | Twitter: @dannyschwartz

Halloween trick or treatI’m walking with my Dad. The evening is cool and almost every porch is lit up with the eerie glow of pumpkin faces. I’m swinging my pillowcase of candy, excited by the weight of it. I can’t wait to get home and dump the contents on the living room floor.

I’m dressed as a kitty, which I’m fully channeling tonight. Truly, there has never been a better cat on Halloween.

My twin sister is a present. It’s a genius costume–a box, gift-wrapped with arms and a hole for her head. Mom has put make-up on her (I’m coveting it a little; I just have a black nose and whiskers, which make my face itch).

We are five years old, and this is fast becoming one of our favorite nights.

My sister and I have devised a system where we sort each item by category and make a mental account of every piece. That will keep Mom and Dad from pilfering our hard-earned loot.

Every door we knock on is answered with squeals of, “Look how cute the twins are!” Like putty in our hands. Handfuls of candy thrown into our overloaded pillowcases. Score!

But as we approach the next house, my father stops our adrenaline-infused race to the door.

Dad: “Wait, girls! See? Their lights are off.”

Me: “Why? Aren’t they home, Daddy?” [Thoughts to self: Who’d want to miss this night?]

Dad: “They’re Christians– they don’t celebrate Halloween. They turn off their lights and sit at the back of their house.”

Me: “Why?” [Thoughts to self: Couldn’t they just be out?]

Dad: “They think Halloween is bad.”

Unpacking his words

Later that night as I come down from my sugar high in my bed, I chew on what my dad said the only way a five-year-old can. I come to this conclusion:

Halloween is bad. Christians are good, cause they go to church where God is. I like God.

But I like Halloween. And I love trick or treating.

Halloween is bad. Therefore, I am bad.

Christians are good.


This idea stayed with me–that I was a bad person. Of course, it was not just that one moment that shattered my self-esteem—through the years a difficult childhood fueled it. In the years that followed, however, whenever I met Christians, I found myself involuntarily squirming as I compared my life to how theirs seemed. To me, Christians had it all together, were always happy, did not make mistakes and did not partake in “bad” things.  I was, well … on the highway to hell. (AC/DC told me so.)

I found myself in church in my early twenties and I learned Jesus was for everyone, not just “good” people. I also realized Christians were not perfect and many were dealing with the same struggles I was.

Over the years God spoke Truth to that lie about being a “bad” person: I was loved. Redeemed.

As I grew older, I still struggled with the celebration of Halloween, particularly as I raised my oldest son Owen. Inevitably my thoughts would go back to that one Halloween night and the house where the lights were off. The night I learned I was “bad.”

I felt guilty that I might be corrupting my boy by allowing him to Trick or Treat. I wondered if I was making him “bad.”

Then one day I had a revelation: I wanted to be a “lights on” Christian.

I know we are not meant to conform to the world, but I didn’t want my life to point a finger either, saying I was “good” and others “bad.”

Our culture has embraced this holiday and I know there are many strong and valid opinions around it, Christian or not. I respect them. This is not about arguing doctrine over the rights and wrongs of Halloween; we are all free to choose what to we believe and what to celebrate.

This is simply about the decision our family came to: keeping our doors open and our lights on. When it comes down to it, we want to err on the side of showing Love.

This year, I will also show Owen how to sort his candy into systematic piles and how to take an inventory of his favorite stuff.

Then I will raid it when he goes to bed.


Dear SheLoves readers, we’d love to hear:

  • What were your thoughts about Halloween as a child?
  • Have your opinions changed over the years, perhaps since having children yourself?
  • Do you believe there is a place for Halloween within Christianity?

About Daniela:

Daniela is enjoying her new role as stay-at-home mom. She loves Jesus, her husband and kids and jumps feet first into opportunities to serve in her community. Daniela lives by this statement, “Preach the gospel always, use words when necessary.” She loves to live life big and laughs a lot. She blogs at Daniela Schwartz.








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