I love Fall. I think it is probably my favorite of all the seasons. This may be the toughest part of being a Houstonian. This is the time of year I really start to miss my Southern Illinois roots. I miss crisp breezes. I miss changing colors. I miss hay rides and wienie roasts and bonfires. Please don’t message me later and tell me of a great pumpkin patch you know of. I’ve been taken by those pipe dreams before. After being in Houston for 17 years, I’ve made my peace.
I am okay with taking my kids to the local nursery to buy our pumpkins. I squeal with delight when the trees on my street turn gold…in December. I have accepted that “Fall” may only be a feeling here; a flavor I pour in my coffee. Houston has so much to offer. It is truly a great city. I can’t blame it for it’s lack of fall-ability.
Halloween, however, is big here. The people decorate almost as much for Halloween as they do for Christmas. There are pumpkins everywhere – plastic ones of course because it’s still too hot to put out real ones. They’ll rot and you’ll draw rats. (Another Houston highlight.) There are glow-in-the-dark spider webs strung from trees. I can throw a stone and hit at least 3 purple light up spiders on my street. (Okay, not really. I don’t have that great of an arm. But the spiders are really there.) And happy faced scare crows are dancing in flower beds all over town.
I love the sweet, happy fall decorations. I think they’re fun. I even did a children’s message at church last week comparing salvation to the scooping out of pumpkin guts. I’m all in with the sweet and I have strategically placed candy corn in decorative containers around my house to prove it.
This morning though, driving my daughter to school for an early morning science test make up, (more on that another day because God knows I have to stretch my topics this month) I encountered the scariest Halloween yard art I’ve seen in a good, long while. There were giant ghosts hanging from the trees. Large black and gray ghouls with skeleton faces blowing in the wind. There was a headless horseman and lots of scary face pumpkins.
My first thought was, “Wow. I bet that cost them a fortune.” Folks they don’t come much cheaper than me.
My second thought was, “I’m so glad my kids aren’t toddlers anymore. We’d have to skip this street for Trick or Treating.”
Our church used to do a “Trunk or Treat” to offer a place for kids to Trick or Treat safely with no threat of evil, scary, spooky anything. It was a great success for lots of years. Lots of people. Lots of candy. Lots of fun. But after a few years Trunk or Treats or Fall Festivals or Harvest Nights Out started popping up all over town. All the churches were offering a “Halloween Alternative” and we started asking,”Who’s greeting the kids in the neighborhoods?” We were wondering what message it sent to the kids on our streets when we locked up our houses and turned off our lights.
So instead of Trunk or Treating we encouraged our people to stay home and be a light in their own neighborhoods. Meeting people right where they are seemed to be a Jesus sort of thing so we thought we’d try it out on Halloween and see how it worked. We suggested that people buy good candy and not hand out a tract. Tracts are rarely a good gift, Halloween or otherwise. We asked people to be out in their yards and driveways and to smile and wave at their neighbors. It was crazy revolutionary.
I love being in our neighborhood on Halloween. I love seeing the littles in their princess/super hero/animal faced costumes. I love sharing Twizzlers and Milky Ways with my neighbors and teasing the teenagers who decided last minute to grab a pillow case and come beg for candy. I don’t love the super-crazy-scary decorations but I completely understand that others think it wouldn’t be Halloween without it. I’m sure they give me the same grace when I put up my Christmas lights the week before Thanksgiving. It’s all in fun
So what about you? Do you like your Halloween spooky or sweet? And what are your plans this year to be a light in your neighborhood?