It’s that time of year, the time for hot chocolate and sweaters (yes I wear sweaters in Florida), the time for carving pumpkins and my all time favorite, watching horror movies! I can feel your looks of disgust even as I write it, but it’s true. I love horror movies (only the good ones) and every year, I start watching one every day somewhere around the first of October (I always end up starting early) until Halloween has come and gone. To be fair, I do this during every holiday. December and March are filled with Christmas and Easter films as well. I’m not gaining any points here, am I?
Now, I know this sounds like a waste of time, but I assure you, it is absolutely necessary. What kind of human would I be if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to criticize the destruction of great literature via terrible film-making or, in contrast, praise the obsessive perfection that seems to accompany directors of real horror and suspense. No cheezy plots and jump scares, just art in the form of turning an audience’s innocent ideas of life slowly against them through fearful yet thought-provoking storytelling. And of course you must experience the season by dining on anything with pumpkin in the title, purchasing giant bags of candy without regret, making endless creatively scary finger foods, and filling the air with the scent of apples, cinnamon, and campfires.
It’s the season I look forward to the most and whose exciting activities seem to preoccupy me more than any other.
Yes, I know how very unchristian this makes me seem. I grew up in a home where Halloween wasn’t celebrated, and have often been given incredulous looks or the cold shoulder by fellow church-goers over my excitement of horror. I realize many people disagree with my love of Halloween movies, and that’s ok. I’ve never felt convicted about my love of all things Halloween. My relationship with both God and horror films is my own, and that’s all that’s ever mattered.
Until my daughters best friends parents (said they saw Ferris at 31 Flavors last night. J/K) started sort of slowly letting the girls play together less and less. Over a period of months, I found out that the rules of their home are somewhat different from mine. Nail polish and makeup are not allowed, for example, and of course, my little diva is always trendsetting with some new and creative nail bling. While Halle is not allowed to wear makeup either, she’s been caught sneaking lipstick and mascara to school more than once. I’m willing to bet she’s snuck (snuck? sneaked? snuken?) it to her besties house as well.
Now, I’ve had many parents not approve of my home and our rules. I’ve had parents who refuse to let their daughters into my home because I am single mom, I look young and have children taller than me, and they assume whatever judgements their minds make of me must be true. For the record, I am 33 and I was married, to the same man even, when I gave birth to both of my children. I am proud to say that most people believe I am in my early 20’s when they meet me, but unfortunately most assume I must have had my kids at like, 12, and respond to me with what they feel is appropriate for a slut such as myself. Don’t judge, given enough stares and rude comments, you’d be ranting too.
I’ve had parents not allow their daughters into my home because I have a son, and a son who, unbeknownst to them, is autistic and struggles a bit on being socially proper at times. Who knew this could inspire such fear in a parent who, at the same time, allows said daughter to attend rock concerts unsupervised with only a 16-year-old pothead to navigate such an establishment. But to be in a home with a parent and an autistic older brother, absolutely unacceptable. I know, I’m sorry, I may be unleashing a bit of frustration here, I promise, I do have a point.
In the past, I’ve had parents not allow their children into my home because I choose to send my kids to public schools. The horror. They could not comprehend what might lead a single parent to send her children to school for free. Nor could they comprehend my defense of this “decision” (like I could afford anything else), because I simply do not believe in putting my children in a protective bubble. Now, I am not as hardened to the idea of Christian schools or homeschooling as I once was, but at the time, I didn’t feel it was right. My kids prayed with their friends and invited them to church, and I thought that was more important than teaching them to segregate themselves from the “naughty” kids for sub par education. Again. my views have changed, don’t freak out. I am tainted with my own negative experiences in a private Christian school, and I let that skew my view quite a bit in the past. But to say my children and my home are not worthy of your oh-so-godly self simply because my kids attend public school is just plain ridiculous, and represents everything I hate about religion as a whole. Ranting again, I know.
So when I found out that Halle had leaked to her bestie that we were watching Poltergeist the other night, one of her favorites, as our daily horror film, it never occurred to me that this might cause a problem. If Halle’s brightly painted nails and shorts that sit above the knee were already making these parents a bit squeamish, despite my efforts to tone it down (not sure what I’m supposedly doing wrong), you can rest assured the knowledge of my Halloween movie tradition pushed them right over the edge.
Apparently, they also believe that Halloween is evil.
Suddenly, I’m getting screamed at, there’s an outpouring of tears, and I’m being blamed for everything that’s ever been wrong in the world. Why you ask? Because my stupid “tradition” (said with an overkill of sarcasm, complete with finger parenthesis) of watching horror films has ruined my 11 year olds life. Yes, ruined. Her friends parents are normal, why can’t I be that way too? Now she’s never going to be allowed to go to this friend’s house again, all because I force everyone to watch my stupid, boring, old horror movies that suck anyway.
Then there was a slam of a door and I was left standing frozen in the kitchen, mouth open in bewilderment, holding a strainer full of dripping pasta, now splattering defiantly on my freshly scrubbed kitchen floors as if in cahoots with my enraged pre-teen.
My first reaction was to make a nasty phone call and let my opinion on the matter be known. I have a right, after all to defend myself, don’t I? I have a right to celebrate Halloween with as much vigor as I please! Who do these people think they are, judging me and my kids over the stupidest little things, meer differences in opinion, separating friendships over viewpoints that are neither wrong nor right, just different?
And this is where I had an aha moment and God spoke to my very angry heart.
With all the rantings an opinions and the outpouring of anger and division we are seeing recently, it’s hard not to want to grab someone by the neck and strangle them. It’s hard not to want to lash out and insist that our own viewpoint is not only correct, but that it negates the feelings and life experiences of everyone around us.
I swore to myself, mostly in an attempt to keep from saying something I regret, that I wouldn’t write about the division rearing its ugly head over the choice to kneel or stand during our National Anthem at this weekends football games. And I’m keeping that promise. I’m not going to say anything about it, because it doesn’t matter.
What matters is showing love, no matter what. What matters is stopping to listen, not demanding to be heard. What matters is being a light, the salt of this earth, and we can’t do this by winning a thousand debates. We can’t change the world by changing its opinion, we can only show the world what change looks like when you let God breathe life into a hardened and hurting heart.
As a single mom, I can honestly say, that had I seen the kindness and love of Christ in the church and the “godly” people I’ve tried to surround myself with over the years, my story would absolutely be different. I have instead experienced isolation, hatred, and gossip, that has impacted my very core, not to mention inspired fear in me of anyone who dares approach me or my children. I am not inclined to trust a word you say or that pretentious smile you have plastered on your face.
I don’t want to be guilty of making others feel this way.
Many would disagree with my love of horror films at Halloween. Many would find it ungodly, evil even. And truth be told, there are some movies even I will not watch. I bought Paranormal Activity out of a $5 dollar bin, watched it once, didn’t sleep for 2 weeks, and finally felt it such an evil presence in my home that I threw it in the trash and vowed never to watch it again. I do not feel there is anything wrong with watching Dracula, Pumpkinhead, It or The Sixth Sense as a fun family tradition every year, but that’s me. I don’t think it’s right to let my child go to a Green Day concert with a bunch of wasted, crazy people at such a young age. But I happen to know many parents who are totally fine with that, and they are good people and good parents. How Christlike would I be to stop speaking to them, stop letting my daughter around them, making them feel inferior to me? If I’ve cut off communications, I’ve also removed them from my sphere of influence, maybe the only Christlike influence they have.
Halle’s friends parents may cut off communication with us, and that’s ok. They have a right to parent their children in the way they feel is best. I commend them for that. I disagree, but I’m not going to make a nasty phone call. I’m not going to judge. I’m not going to stop speaking to them.
But I will not just stand by and let a budding friendship be snatched away by intolerance. I will take action.
So what am I going to do?
I’m going to listen. I’m going to hear them out, and do whatever it takes to be a peacekeeper. I’m going to compromise if I’m able, and sacrifice what might cause others to be led astray.
Am I willing to give up the need to be right for relationship? Am I willing to sacrifice lashing out in defense of my freedom to watch whatever I want to keep from hindering another believer?
Yes. The answer is yes! The answer should always be yes!
Just because you have the freedom to do something doesn’t mean you should.
And that’s all I’m going to say.
I have a listening ear to lend and a friendship to save. In the end, it’s not going to matter whether God approves of horror flicks or not. But the relationships in my life will. The love I showed to others will absolutely mean the world.
Have you ever lost a friendship over a difference in opinion?
Have you ever felt outcast because your beliefs didn’t match up with someone else’s?
How do you celebrate Halloween, if at all?
Do you watch horror movies? What’s your favorite?
Some of my favorites: