Our family met in the Smokies for our annual celebration of fall last Thursday and all got home safely late last night. We did the usual hiking, eating, singing, praying, shopping, carving a pumpkin, Halloween costuming the children, and playing miniature golf. One hike was shortened by the appearance of two black bears, and none of us walked the entire strip in Gatlinburg as we usually do.
Since we left on Halloween, we feared that our three little ones would not have the trick or treating option they usually have, either at home or in Gatlinburg. We need not have feared disappointment for our precious little ones! The Lord provided the sharp eyes of Gina and Josh to see a “Trunk or Treat” sign at the First Baptist Church. With the children dressed as Hermione, Luke Skywalker, and a monkey, we descended on the good folks of that church. They were most cordial, assured us they love Harry Potter, had a car decorated with Kentucky banners and throws, and even supplied a fire and marshmallows to make S’mores. What a delight!
Again, sharp-eyed Gina had noticed another “Trunk or Treat” sign at the Roaring Fork Baptist Church that started an hour later, so we headed there. They were offering hot dogs in the gym and Knox and Kinley decided that their dinner at The Alamo Steakhouse wasn’t enough and they were ready for hot dogs. While they were eating, a boy grabbed Knox’s space gun and took off with it, requiring retrieval by Gina. Then, as Josh held Knox’s light saber, a boy came up tried to take it from his hand. Josh held tight, and I got right up in this little boy’s face and, in my best schoolteacher voice, said, “Excuse ME!” I glared at him. He gave one more ineffective tug, then, eyes on me, backed away. Josh and I were a bit shocked but triumphant.
Nearby, a different boy grabbed Knox’s gun and I grabbed it back and told him to leave us alone. I wished I’d said, “Get lost, buddy!” That would have sounded much tougher, but I hadn’t had time to review wording options.
The reason for the difference in the two events? Community evangelism. The first church had a peaceful, well-organized event primarily for their own church children. The second had gone into the highways and byways and brought in any interested children, whether well-mannered or not, churched or unchurched. Their first year to have “Trunk or Treat,” they ended up with around 200 children, most without accompanying parents. The children were wildly running from trunk to trunk and having a great time. Our grandchildren, trained to be rules-followers, were quite intimidated by the boisterous youngsters around them, breaking lines and grabbing treats from the hands of others in costume. The local youth minister apologized to us, explaining the lack of church connections of many of their guests, most of whose costumes were ragged shirts and scary face paint.
I was reminded of the years our church had a bus ministry in the projects and the challenges of trying to teach Bible stories and principles to such uninhibited creatures. There’s that narrow line of keeping them controlled and still being flexible enough that they want to return—possibly even to Bible classes. We understood his situation and sympathized.
For us, however, the advantage of the antics of the other revelers prompted our children to be eager to leave, so we returned to our hotel rooms with plenty of candy, pretzels, and whistles to keep all happy. We’d had a Halloween experience that would make our 2011 Halloween stand out from the rest. (Last year it was Findlay as a box of popcorn that made 2010 special.)
Hope yours was fun, too. Any interesting Halloween experiences to share?