Driving down Main Street in my rural Maine town, I sighed as I passed a miniature cemetery that had sprouted overnight in a carefully groomed yard. “RIP” read the headstones. Several white ghosts billowed overhead.
As far as Halloween decorations go, these decorations were mild, but every fall I’m sorry to see the glorification of death and gore that often accompanies the holiday. Fall can be a dark time of year—physically—but also spiritually. Spooky displays and costumes can frighten children.
Thankfully, churches often host wholesome, family-friendly festivals where kids can celebrate the season minus the gore. What better time for children to invite their friends to church and share their faith than the holidays?
Whether as a church or in your own backyard, you can hold a party that will really shine. All you need is a group of kids and some items that glow. Flashlights! Glow sticks! Light-up shoes! Anything that glows, goes!
After playing some traditional fall games and sharing a snack, wait for it to get semi-dark. Tell the children how Jesus is the light of the world. His love makes us bright. Then line up for a Light Parade and march around your church or yard in a safe, supervised location. As a bonus, you may want to give away small children’s Bibles—“God’s lamp”—as prizes.
That’s the idea inside my new children’s book, The Lantern Hill Light Parade, which was inspired by my own son’s fear of the dark. One night a couple of years ago, my youngest child, who was then four, had a hard time falling asleep. He was afraid of the dark. So I rubbed his back, and the Lord gave me a song, “Jesus is the light. His love makes me bright. Jesus is the light that shines through me. No darkness can stay. All fear goes away. Jesus is the light that shines through me.”
As I sang, my son quickly dozed off. The song comforted my own heart as well. As an adult, I’m no longer afraid of turning out the lights, but I’ve struggled through some dark seasons. The words of the song, which are also in my new book, are ones I now sing regularly—not only to my son, but to myself. I need to remember where the light comes from too!
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear,” Scripture says (I Timothy 1:7 NKJ) “But of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”
These are words I remind myself and my children of often. Such words are too good to keep to ourselves. I am forever grateful to Janey, the first-grade classmate at my little public school, who invited me to church and first shared God’s love with me.
This holiday season, instead of settling for the same old celebration, why not share this same love with your children and their friends?
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Lantern Hill Light Parade is one of five books in her Lantern Hill Farm children’s picture-book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that honor Jesus. Connect at www.meadowrue.com
The Lantern Hill Light Parade
Celebrate fall with The Lantern Hill Light Parade picture book for kids. With bright illustrations and a heartwarming story, kids will discover that Jesus is the light of the world, so there is nothing to fear
Fall is often a dark time of year. The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and the season can be filled with traditions that frighten children. But when Molly and her cousins, Jacob and Sammy, bring something that glows to a special autumn celebration at Aunt Jenny and Uncle Gerry’s farm, they discover that light is greater than darkness. Holding up their shining lights, they have a parade to combat the darkness and learn that the greatest light of the world is Jesus. Includes illustrations by the notable Drew Krevi, known for Disney’s Mulan, Brother Bear, and more!
Board book, ages 1-3, 24 pages, 8 x 8 inches, ISBN 9781628627985.
About the Lantern Hill Farm Series
Holidays are an opportunity for celebration and a time to create family traditions and memories. Yet often the emphasis shifts from the reason for the holiday to making the children the center of the celebration. The Lantern Hill Farm series of picture books and board books is designed to provide parents and grandparents entertaining stories with easy-to-recreate family activities that allow the child to be part of the holiday but not the center of it. Books in the Lantern Hill Farm Series:
- The Christmas Cradle
- The Backward Easter Egg Hunt
- The Best Birthday
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