Today we made our semi-annual trek to Ottawa's second-hand Value Village shops. We pulled into the first store and the first thing I noticed was the big word COSTUMES in large bold capital letters on a banner spread across one fourth of the store front.
"Oh, yeah," I thought, "halloween is coming up." Duh, but I'd forgotten all about it. After all, it's a non-event in our house.
When I saw the sign, I almost wanted to forget about shopping. I've been to Value Village in the fall, and they don't have very many cute fairy, princess, ladybug, or pumpkin costumes. I don't think they even have many super hero costumes. I could be wrong, since I don't browse through the costumes. But what generally stands out all over the store, every where you look, are costumes, nick-nacks, decorations, and what-have-you with the one central theme of the dark side of halloween (is there a "light" side?): skulls, freakish monsters with red eyes, anything gory, all hideous.
I steeled myself with the determination to ignore all that for the sake of getting clothes. After all, we drove an hour to get there; we needed to make the trip worthwhile. So we got all nine children out of the van (okay, most of them got themselves out) and entered the store, cautioning the children to beware of the Gimmies. (If you don't know what Gimmies are, you probably don't have children.)
I was looking through the girls' dresses when I suddenly had the urge to get out. Fast. Loud heavy metal chaotic wickedness was blasting through the whole store. I have never shopped so fast in my life. I pulled about a dozen jumpers and dresses off the rack and was steering the cart and two little girls toward the fitting rooms when my husband came over and said, "We need to leave. Now." Instead of trying on all the clothes, I simply held them up to my daughters, discarded the ones I felt were too short, and headed toward the check-out.
Once out of the store, I thought, whew, that's done. Now on to the next store. Oldest daughter went to that one with friends, and said it was better and more organized. Got in the store and was greeted with the same in-your-face-and-ears wickedness. At least, this time it wasn't so loud. Walking out after we were done, I told the children that at least it was cheaper than buying fabric and taking the time to sew.
But was it really cheaper? Did we really need to subject ourselves and our children to the sights and sounds of wickedness just to save a few bucks? Was this trip so worth it financially as to offset the spiritual offense? Should we tolerate wickedness for the sake of our wallets?
I am beginning to think that perhaps next spring I will shop the local quiet fabric shops and take the time to sew. Time spent sewing with my daughters should not be thought of as "wasted" time. There was a time when women mostly sewed their own clothes, teaching skills to their daughters, all the while conversing together. Often neighboring women would get together to visit over their sewing. Christian women set up "Dorcas Societies" (see Acts 9:36-42) to sew for missionaries, war victims, and the poor. Often these sewing meetings included Bible study and prayer.
I think I'd much rather spend a week sewing and fellowshipping with my girls than spend a few hours immersing myself and my family in wickedness while looking through racks of clothes at some store.