By Andrea Lindsey |

Halloween is such a special time of the year for me.

 I love all the costumes, the scary movies flooding all the TV’s in the house, and all the candy you could ever imagine sitting in all the corners of a room. But the person who makes it the most special is my grandmother, Nadene. 

My grandmother is the sweetest, wisest woman I’ve ever known. In her 68 years of living, she has always found ways to prioritize others over herself. A prime example is an event she hosts every year called Holyween.   

Holyween is a chance for children of all ages to come out and enjoy all the perks of Halloween, but without all the frightening and gory details. Instead, Holyween is more of a Christian-centered event where children eat lots of sweets, play games like Pin the Wings on the Angel, and learn about the ways and works of God. This was her way of putting something “holy” in “Halloween,” hence the name. She has been heading this tradition for nine years, making this year her tenth anniversary, and the eleventh for the festival. 

Each Holyween celebration is based on a certain biblical character and one particular story about them that can be easily incorporated with Halloween.

I still remember the first time I ever went to the Holyween festival, I was in the fifth grade. It was magical. I didn’t have time to get a costume, so I went in my school clothes and used that as my “costume.” At first, I thought Holyween would be boring — but it ended up being one of the greatest Halloweens I had ever had. 

There were so many games: a dunk tank, boatloads of candy, a face painting table, and my personal favorite, popcorn balls. I still remember standing at one of the game tables for 20 minutes trying to win one more popcorn ball, but I was too late. 

We learned about Ezekiel and his story about the dry bones, and there were bones everywhere! My grandma had made a slideshow out of the story, and in the middle of her talking, a skeleton jumped out from behind the screen and scared all the kids! It turned out to be my uncle in costume, but he got us so good, I was for sure I had peed a little. As if the night wasn’t already unforgettable, that scare just set it in stone for me and my bladder. 

Holyween was also fun for the adults too. My aunt was dressed like a cheetah and my grandma was a mouse! It was so fun to see them participate in activities they wouldn’t usually bat an eye at.

After that first year, the building that my church owned had to be sold, leaving no home for Holyween.

That’s when my grandma stepped in. 

She offered Holyween to be hosted at her house in her backyard, and she even encouraged all the kids to bring a friend or two every year. This made Holyween expand from about 20 to 30 kids to about 100 kids every year.

Being a former teacher, my grandma has always prided herself on being a servant of God, and she’d do anything to put a smile on a child’s face too. That’s why taking over the Holyween festivities was a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. 

When she took over this event, to make things even more personal, she started teaching the children about the biblical characters herself.

Most of them don’t even realize the biblical lesson they’re getting out of Holyween because they’re having so much fun. 

The coming together of children and learning about the ways and works of God has always been a rewarding experience for my grandma.  

Her favorite part is asking the children from the previous year what last year’s lesson was about. They all get so excited to tell the story from top to bottom (probably because the prize is a huge candy bar) and it just shows how attentive they are and how much of a positive experience it is for the children as a whole.

Seeing the children come together and learn about God and His ways does remarkable things for our community as a whole. My grandma is the leader of the revolution of a newer generation of kids that are more religiously available and the marks that she leaves every year in her backyard will be shown later in life through these children long after she’s gone.

I have always been in love with my grandma and how knowledgeable she is. She taught me so many things growing up and overall made me the happiest kid that I could ever be. To know that she’s able to do for those kids what she did for me growing up, helps me realize that I have the best grandma in the entire universe. I am so proud to be her granddaughter.