As school was ending on Friday, Lenny stopped by my locker to see me. “Do you want to join us for some Halloween fun tomorrow?”
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“We’re going to help some kids stay healthy,” he replied, “and then we’re going to have a party at my house.”
I didn’t know what he meant by helping kids stay healthy, but I knew I couldn’t go. I had already promised my parents that I would carry out our family tradition.
My parents didn’t care much for Halloween. Traditional trick-or-treating was out. My father was not about to let his children roam around the neighborhood begging for anything, especially candy. When I was young, we children had felt left out of the fun of the season. That was why my parents came up with a plan on how we could celebrate the holiday in a way they felt was appropriate.
My mother made lots of homemade divinity candy and tons of cookies. We then dressed in costumes, and my mother drove us around the community, stopping only at the homes of the elderly. Instead of begging for treats, we took them some.
Many of them were widows and were lonely. They would invite us in and share stories, and it seemed to make life better for everyone.
When I became old enough to drive, I was the one that drove myself and my younger brother and sister. But this year my younger siblings had parties to go to, and it was left to me, alone, to carry on the family tradition. I had already promised my mother that I would.
“I’m sorry,” I told Lenny, “but I already have plans.”
“You aren’t going around visiting old people again, are you?” he asked. When I nodded, he laughed. “Man, you’re 17 years old. That kind of stuff is for kids.” When I said I still planned to do it, he just shook his head. “It’s your loss. You’re going to miss out on all of the fun. Maybe if you hurry you can catch the end of the party.”
He laughed again, and, along with all of the other guys with him, teased me a bit more before heading off to catch the bus home.
All day Saturday, as I worked, I thought about it. I had never been to a Halloween party, and I kept telling myself it would be okay if I skipped visiting the elderly this once. But then I would remember how much some of the widows looked forward to my visit, and I knew it did matter. I considered that maybe if I hurried I could still have time at the party, too.
That evening, my mother prepared a box for me with lots of plates full of candy and cookies covered with plastic wrap. On a piece of paper she listed out each house I was to visit.
As I stopped at each home, I was always invited in. Often I was offered hot chocolate, and the visits would go on longer than I planned.
I saved the home of Mrs. Levin for last. She was a sweet, little widow whose children lived far away. She was very lonely and loved having company. My hope of catching some of the party faded as she told me about each of her children, and then started sharing stories about when she and her husband were young. I realized I wouldn’t be missed at the party, but my visit made a big difference to Mrs. Levin.
It was really late when I left Mrs. Levin’s home, and I figured the party was probably almost over, so I just headed home. Even though I felt disappointment at missing the party, I had enjoyed my evening.
Lenny wasn’t at church the next day, so I found his mother. “Where’s Lenny?” I asked, laughing. “Is he still in bed from staying up too late partying?”
But there was no humor showing in her face as she answered. “He and the others with him were arrested for mugging little kids for their Halloween candy. They’re still in jail.”
I knew then that that was one party I was glad I had missed.
Chuck WhickerNovember 1, 2013
It's a good story, and meaningful; and certainly your parents' way of celebrating Halloween is far more appropriate than the traditional way. But I was hoping this would be an article about how inappropriate it is for those who "call themselves after my name" to recognize Halloween as a holiday at all. There are three scriptural items that come to mind. First, we all know how adamant the Lord was in forbidding Israel to celebrate the holidays of any of the pagan nations around them; and that the holidays the Lord appointed for Israel were part of the ordinance system of the Lord, which are designed for sanctifying the hearts of his people. They were truly "holy days." Second, one of our covenants is to "avoid all light-mindedness..." Dressing up has no spiritual value- it does not direct the hearts of participants heavenward, which is what the Lord's holy days are designed to do. Third, our celebration of Halloween is a clear example of the many ways in which we participate in the "eat, drink, and be merry" philosophy, which we are warned not to do in the Book of Mormon. Fourth, the Lord said: "And truth is a knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning." (D&C 93:24-25). We have endowed members of the church participating in the creation of haunted houses -- all in the name of fun and entertainment, and "providing memories for our children." These are no different than the justifications by which Israel always fell into pagan traditions in the past, and lost their standing with the Lord, not to mention his protection against their enemies. Light-mindedness is spiritually destructive. It reduces the caution required of the Lord's people to keep from entering into deception. This one of the things ignored by our appointed "prophets" whose job it is to uphold the covenant that would have established Zion, had the church fully embraced it (see D&C 105:2). No people have ever become more spiritually lazy in the responsibility of discernment -- and it's all because their "prophets" don't want to confront them in any of their favored idolatries. If the Brethren can touch the emotions of the saints, they think they have softened their hearts -- not so; rather, let them preach repentance, pinpointing apostasy where it exists, and humble their people rather than merely touching their emotions and causing them to think that "all is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well!" (see 2 Ne. 28:21). Cease to rely upon the Brethren (the arm of flesh) to do your discerning for you. Cease to turn a deaf ear to the voice of warning coming from your scriptures, and from common-members who have the spirit of prophecy. Cease to assume that the church is the Lord's standard - for it never was established as such (see D&C 84:55-57). Zion is the standard, not church, not prophet, and not tradition. Cease to think that "fun and loving" is equivalent to righteousness; for that is the epitome of worldliness. Seek after Zion, and cease to seek after whatever is popular in the church, for the church has become the world: "Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name." (D&C 101:97) '
Marilyn PorterOctober 30, 2013
I hope you thanked your parents for teaching you a beautiful tradition. Thanks for sharing that.