Howling winds and ghoulish skies should meet us today for Halloween. The best part is that Halloween is on Saturday this year. The kids won’t have to run home from school and scurry into their costumes (adults as well) since there is all day to get ready.
When I was a kid, I believe I counted up the days to Halloween much like kids do Christmas. I couldn’t wait to put on my much too big costume with the plastic face mask that never, ever let me see through. Sometimes the costumes were too big (you will grow and get another year out of it!) so it would drag on the ground catching leaves and twigs as I traveled between houses. I know we never headed out until dark when I was a kid. There was something so magical about traipsing around the neighborhood under the street lamps, yet knowing our dad was loitering back in the shadows. My mom’s birthday is on Halloween so it was our pleasure to dump our candy at her feet and let her pick whatever she wanted. The rest of the candy was arranged and rearranged in much the same way we played with our Valentine cards. Truthfully I must say, we ate a lot of candy on that night, and the rest was stashed in our dressers with big KEEP OUT signs for the younger siblings.
Halloween day is also the cross-quarter day between autumn and winter. Halloween is one of the few Celtic celebrations that we still celebrate. There were/are many customs associated with this ancient holiday. W.B. Yeats shared it in his poem “All Souls’ Night.” He wrote the poem in November of 1920 at Oxford. It would be a great poem to read around the punch bowl tonight!
This year as we turn back our clocks tonight, we turn the calendar over to November. I must confess that I think November is one of my favorite months. I love the last of the dried leaves on the walk ways, the scent of smoke from someone’s lingering campfire and soup on the stove. The constellation, Orion, begins to take the stage as a leading man now that November is returning. I love going outside on to the stoop in the early morning to revel in the crisp morning air. The summer triangle is gone. Now our conversations focus on wondering the date of the first snowfall.
November 1 brings the NaNoWrite event as some of us hunker down over our word processors, or paper and pencils, to write the great novel. I always sign up for it by pledging to write 1,700 words a day for 30 days. It is not too late to join me on this writing adventure. Send me a note and I will add you to our group. It doesn’t cost to enter and it is a great discipline for writing. The idea is to get 50,000 words by the end of November. I have fallen short every year except when I wrote a memoir of the farm for my sons. I typed that up and gave each of them a copy for their Christmas present. Now there is an early Christmas idea for you that takes only time, no money! What will I write this year? Sometimes I don’t know until the first day!
So, tonight on Halloween I will dress up as usual and sit on my front porch of the purple house handing out spiders or candy, depending on what the children prefer. Sometimes they look me straight in the eye and say “spiders.” They also do get candy, but I am always surprised at their answers. Bring the kids on by, I bought candy for the whole neighborhood! If it is raining then bring an umbrella. Following the trick-or-tricking I have been invited to a potluck supper. “What should I bring?” I asked my hostess. She charmingly said, “If you tell a story at the campfire that could be your passing dish.” Well, now there is a thought … tell stories for food. I rather like that.
I also have to wish my mom a very happy birthday on this day. Happy birthday, Mom! I also want to wish my editor a very happy birthday. He always makes me look good for you. Happy birthday, Mike, thanks for all you do behind the scenes.
Enjoy this night of games and laughter; tomorrow we begin the descent into winter.
LOU ANN HOMAN-SAYLOR lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.