My parents ensured I stayed far, far away from Halloween. Maybe you had similar parents. If you didn’t, then us non-trick-or-treaters must seem strange to you.

Our family lived in remote areas far away from other houses or kids, so I was somewhat removed from the fuss.

To make up for the lack of costumes and candy, my mom sent me to the store the day after Halloween to buy as much half-price candy as possible with a crisp $10 bill.

I never felt like I missed out.

Now a grown-up, Leif and I purchase a bag of candy for kiddos, and try not to eat it all before the 31st. Most years we fail and end up running to the store for another stash.

Now I live in Utah—where Halloween is epic—the most crazily decorated, wildly celebrated holiday of the year.

This was the first year I had to experience a Utah Halloween to find out what all the hubbub was about.

I went with dear friends and their kids through their neighborhood. I felt like more scientist than celebrant.

I appreciated the costumes ranging from cardboard cutouts to inflatable outfits. I studied the candy the kids received. Whenever a home handed out tootsie pops or dum-dums, all the candy-driven-kids left disappointed. A full-size candy bar was the real winner.

Some people didn’t hand out candy at all. The dentist provided a toothbrush with a coupon code for the next visit. One person gave out Capri-Suns; another handed out Play-doh (my personal favorite).

Then there was this one house. The house.

Large inflatable non-scary ghosts and figures and silly cars filled and illuminated the yard.

On the front porch, an older woman held two enormous baskets filled with boxes of treats.

Boxes of Moon Pies

Boxes of fancy French cookies

Boxes of candy.

You could only pick one item.

But whatever you picked you got the whole box.

What the what?

Turns out the woman who handed out the generous candy didn’t live in the house. She was hired to hand out candy. Everything had been hired out including the décor.

I never knew people hired out others to give out their candy.

I thought that was part of the experience, part of the kindness, part of the joy.

Obviously, these generous people have found a system that works for them and they are heroes in the neighborhood. And I’m so grateful for all of the peanut butter M&Ms.  

But I want to encourage you my sweet friends not to miss out as we approach holidays of thankfulness and the arrival of savior.

Hire any physical help you need or can afford–whether It’s cleaning or cooking or hanging Christmas lights, or setting up a tree, decorating, or fill in the blank. (We’re DIYers).

As you approach Thanksgiving make sure you pause long enough not just to consider what you’re thankful for… but to give thanks.

Thanks to others for their friendship.

Thanks to co-workers for the kindness.

Thanks to church staff for their hard work.

Thanks to pastors for their leadership.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit for comforting and guiding.

Thanks to Christ for His love and sacrifice

Thanks to God in whom we live and breathe and find our meaning.

And as we approach Christmas at you don’t miss the runway.

This year Advent begins on December 3rd and ends on December 24. That’s a shorter than usual Advent. Just 21 days to prepare your heart and mind for greatest gift this world has ever seen.

Will you join me in Celebrate Wonder and Joy: 25 Daily Devotions for Advent and Christmas as we dive into the Scriptures and look at the birth of Christ from a fresh perspective that will spark joy in your life? We’ll start together on December 1st, to give us the full 25 days until Christmas.

Let’s be people who are hands on this holiday in loving and serving and living in awe of Jesus.

Much love to you.

What’s the craziest thing you saw this Halloween?

Together, let's prepare our hearts for Christ's arrival as we stay on the lookout for wonder and joy all around. 

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