The teen years can be tricky around Halloween. Perhaps your students are feeling a little old for trick-or-treating, but a little young for some of the adult themed parties. Giving this time of year a new meaning can help students to celebrate this month, while still enjoying themselves.
1. Have a Saint party. Everyone dresses up as their favorite Saint and learns a little bit about them to share. Play 20 questions to figure out who is representing what Saint.
2. Write letters to someone who has lost a loved one this year. People naturally think of Christmas as a tough time for people who are grieving, but I know from personal experience (my brother died when I was 21 years-old) that Halloween can be even worse. All those images of scary movies, dead people, ghosts and the like can be really disturbing for those who have lost a loved one. This is especially true for those whose loved ones died violently or suddenly. Reaching out to say we care and we are thinking of you can help. A friend stayed all evening with me that first Halloween and I still appreciate it many years later.
3. Encourage students to help with treat-giving at home. Every year my husband and I struggle with who gets to take the little ones trick-or-treating and who stays home to give out candy and protect the house for mischievous makers. Ask your students to consider staying home so parents can take out younger siblings, or volunteering to watch a neighbor’s house so they can take out their children. (Or they could offer to take out younger sibs or younger neighbors so that parents can stay home.)
4. Do the right thing. Talk to students about how defacing property is against God’s commandments. Give them the strength to go against what their peers may be doing (on Halloween night) if it involves hurting someone or their property. Teach them to stand up and say that behavior is not acceptable, even at the risk of getting laughed at.
5. Attend Mass for All Souls Day. Perhaps include all the departed family members and friends of your students in the Mass intentions. Talk to them about praying for the departed, including the poor souls in Purgatory and what the Church teaches on this subject.
6. Discuss the movies that are released this time of year. Investigate with your students whether we should, as Catholics, support movies that glorify murder, mass murder or evil.
7. Have a Happy Halloween!!
(Reprinted from my OSV.com YM column, photo credit to Darya Rosien)