Olivia Newport All Saints DayMy daughter, a college student, had an assignment where she had to pretend to mediate between two families in a church. One family was throwing an all-out Halloween bash. Costumes, scary decorations, food, eery sound effects. Another family believed Halloween was evil and thought the pastor should not-so-gently correct the first family for their choice to celebrate it.

Celebrate? Tolerate? Eradicate?

When my kids were young, I made my own choice about how we would experience October 31 without trying to convert anyone else.

Because whatever you do with Halloween, it’s still All Hallow’s Eve, and the next day is still All Saints Day.

And on All Saints Day, the curtain opens and the screen unfurls with the imagery of Hebrews 12:1–2: “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

We are not alone. So many have gone before us. Meeting some of them, giants of history, would make my pulse race. Others were teachers or writers whose faith influenced my faith, and I would greet them with gratitude. Some are people to whom my heart is bound because I loved them in their earthly days. Friends who died too young. Friends who lived long faith-filled lives. My own baby, lost in pregnancy. My in-laws. My dad.

These saints have gone before. With their lives, and even their deaths, they testify to the race of faith with eyes fixed on Jesus.

The stores will tell you that the day after Halloween is the all-out beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

They’re wrong.

It’s a day to pause and give thanks for the saints who have shone their lights into your life and to remember that you are not alone in running the race marked out for you by God himself.

• Who are you thankful for because of the person’s example for you?