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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Halloween/Harvest Festival/Camp Jubilee

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ~Ephesians 12:6

Our neighbors love Halloween. The decorations are a dead giveaway—bloody handprints, skeletons, and scary pumpkins light up the driveways. Of course, we’re the house in the middle that remains dark on All Hallows Eve.

But this is not the anti-Halloween post, nor is the pro-Halloween post. This is the “how not to scare Dad so he can sleep peacefully through the night” post. 

This year we’re decorating our front porch for autumn. A broken-down wheelbarrow with a flat tire; a dead tree branch with not-so-scary cutout bats (Dad used to hunt bats in Indonesia); a few black crows hanging, perhaps; bales of hay; and fall-colored leaves are all acceptable decor for the season.

Our neighbor, we love her so, brought over a very artsy autumn centerpiece and now Mom is ready for the season that has always been such a dread to her. Our husky has donned a shark costume, which is way too small for her, and Mom and Dad both think it’s hilarious. It’s good to laugh with them. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

Has Halloween lost a little bit of its wicked sting? Oh, probably not. We’re aware of its beginnings. But I like how churches everywhere have decided to battle the scary haunts with Harvest Festivals or Camp Jubilee—love it! I’ve collected the cutest Halloween costumes for kids on Pinterest. Please do check them out.

Some Christians of course might have a problem with Harvest Festivals or Camp Jubilee and to that I say, chill out a bit. Yes, perhaps you should be praying on October 31st, but if doing so I hope you pray every day. This world is a scary place … all the time. Okay, getting off my soap box now.

As for our home, there still won’t be any skeletons, creepy shadows, or cauldrons. Those things make for restless nights for Dad and a few bad dreams to boot. So decorations and storytelling are mild, and fun. We don’t mind dishing out a few bags of candy either. We’ll greet those little monsters at the door with our husky shark.

Children dressed like scary tales
This Halloween we’ll keep them safe
Keep them sweet
A sugar high
Keep them close
A treat or die
The night has come
The night is here
All Hallows Eve
Nothing to fear

The holiday season seems to come faster each year. I still remember Halloween 2017. Caregivers can be doubly overwhelmed at this time so make sure to enjoy the season. How do we keep sane, not so busy, and on budget? Here’s a few ways to keep the stress level down, or get rid of it entirely. We’ll keep it simple for now and just cover Halloween de-stressing tips.

 Ten Tips For a Less Stressful Holiday Season
(Halloween/Harvest/Autumn/Camp Jubilee)

1.       Take a few deep breaths … relax.
2.      Start decorating early. Take it slow like a turtle on melatonin.
3.      Use what you have; last year’s decorations are acceptable.
4.      Get to know your neighbors. The holidays are the best time to build relationships.
5.      Forgive yourself if you don’t find the time or energy to decorate. A few pumpkin- spice candles might help set the mood. It’s all you need.
6.      Visit a pumpkin patch but don’t get upset if your elderly parents don’t want to get out of the car. Go get some hot chocolate and bring it to them. Take pictures on your phone to share.
7.      Roll the windows down, get some fresh air.
8.     What to do when kids come a calling on Halloween night and you don’t want to open the door.
a)     Fill up small sandwich bags with candy and hang them up on a tree, one that’s away from the house perhaps?
b)     Hollow out a pumpkin, fill with Jello and gummy worms and put inside pumpkin. Place candy in the gooey mixture with a sign that says, “Go ahead, and take candy if you dare!” It’s a thought.
c)      Tape individually wrapped candy to the door. Maybe you could spell Happy Halloween.
d)     Ask a family member or a neighbor to help with the little tricksters.
e)     You could always turn the lights off.

9.      Watch “It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” 
10.  Don’t start thinking about Thanksgiving just yet. That’s a whole other list.

The tricksters are out tonight
It’s a treat or a Halloween fright
I think I might, I think I will
Turn off the lights and choose to chill

Enjoy the beginnings of the holiday season. As you keep the ones you are taking care of in mind, make sure you take care of your own spirit. Nothing wrong with curling up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate, listen to the crackling of the fireplace, read a good book, and to all those Trick or Treat ninja turtles say, “Maybe next year.”

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for this season. Help me to relax. Give me a season of laughter, and to enjoy those moments of true happiness. When my eyes are on you, my spirit rejoices.

 Beloved Caregiver

On a night when stars burn long and bright
When the moon is full throughout the night
I know your thoughts
I feel your pain
Your spirit groans but not in vain

When children laugh for trick or treat
Remember innocence so sweet
You are my child forevermore
A gift of joy that I adore

(Copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)

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