• By Shalom Baer

RG Editorial: Homeschool Halloween

Growing up homeschooled while also working from a young age around non-homeschoolers, I became accustomed to not relating to most people and their experiences. When I’m spending time with friends or acquaintances, I’ll casually mention something I find normal — like not being allowed to read Harry Potter, watch SpongeBob, or read books that aren’t true stories or based on true stories; that my parents believe all forms of birth control are an affront to God; or that I remember my older sisters fighting for the right to wear pants. The response is usually confusion or shock.

The best way to define my upbringing would be fundamentalist, a general term for people who interpret the Bible literally and follow those literal interpretations strictly. My parents left a lot of churches because of doctrinal disagreements, and we would periodically attend or host home church meetings where I was always fighting with someone about why it was my right to wear skirts above my knee. Long, complicated story short: I grew up weird, as most of us do in some way or another. Gathering from the responses to a lot of my stories, I guess my weird is a little less common.

One experience that was different, to non-existent, for me was Halloween. I technically wasn’t allowed to celebrate it. After all, it is the devil’s holiday. According to my mother, Satanists sacrificed babies on Halloween and put razors in trick-or-treat candy. For a child, that’s enough of a reason to be afraid. We could attend church “harvest parties,” which were specifically designed to keep children from trick-or-treating and other secular Halloween activities.

Harvest parties featured games, cake walks, drawings — but nothing inherently spooky. Think a pumpkin patch in a church basement. We did wear costumes, but they were usually centered around Bible characters. These harvest parties weren’t all bad. I enjoyed it as a child, but it was certainly unusual.

As I grew up and moved away from home, I still didn’t really have any interest in Halloween. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and as much as I don’t like to admit it, I probably internalized some things from my upbringing. After a while though, I got more interested in celebrating it.

In 2018, my fiancé and I decided we wanted to carve pumpkins for Halloween. He grew up similarly and, like me, had never experienced the classic fall activity. We went to every store in Minot on Oct. 30, and they were out of pumpkins, but we got gourds instead. They looked terrible, but it’s one of my favorite memories now. Last year, I wore a real costume for the first time and dressed as Princess Peach. I didn’t go trick-or-treating, but I did get to go out and drink too much. Now, Halloween is something I enjoy for the simple fact that I can. I have decorations up, and I’ve discovered that not all horror movies are inherently evil. Sometimes it’s okay to just have a good time, even if it is a little scary.

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