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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween 2013
When I was a child, Halloween was my absolute favorite holiday. Christmas was carefully choreographed by my British mother. Other holidays were clearly controlled by adults, but each Halloween, our rural community was controlled by the children. In the late sixties and seventies, we believed as children that if we traveled in groups that adults were not a hazard to us. This freed us to walk miles and gather treats in whatever bag you could gather. Costumes tended to be simple. We would walk miles that night and who wants to be encumbered by a costume, or worse, having your sight impaired by one ? These were the days when most everyone's mother was at home. Only Dad worked outside the home and money was tight. Costumes were child inventions and employed paperbags, sheets, etc. One friend constructed a robot costume from boxes which was not to be believed ! This was a magical time where we met neighbors we didn't know, had pizza free at the pizza shop we couldn't afford the rest of the year, and walked to places we didn't have the courage to do the rest of the year. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of Halloween.
For a short time while Daniel was small we lived in the suburbs in a large house everyone called "The Christmas House" because we decorated the large white colonial rather elaborately in the Williamsburg style, each year. We saw more than a hundred children for trick or treat in those years. In fact, my husband used to have to go out one or two times to a grocery store to keep up with continuing demand as the night continued, and the celebrants continued to ring the doorbell.
When we moved to a secluded farm with our children, at the end of the nineteen-nineties, we didn't think we would get as many Trick or Treaters. The first year there was no one willing to brave the long gravel road to see us, if they knew a house was there, or not. Our kids happily split the candy. The second year, the road to the farm was gated, and we knew that no one would be coming. In those years, local churches had concerns that this was now a dangerous holiday and so they encouraged children to dress in costume, and come to the churches for costume contents, bobbing for apples, candy apples, and games. Our homeschooling group had an annual gathering, thanks to a very nice family who annually offered their rural home for a Harvest Festival with a potluck dinner for kids and their families, complete with a bonfire, games, and a hayride. How Daniel loved that gathering. I remember they had games set up in their garage also, and he and friends spent time playing there. Daniel never knew the long distance trick or treating that I did. I feel a little sad that he didn't know the glorious Halloweens that I did, but then I never knew the Harvest Festivals that he enjoyed.
As we near the time of year in which Daniel departed Earth so suddenly and inexplicably, I am caught in twinges of sorrow. Sorrow that Daniel, who would now be 17 is not here to enjoy the only world I really know. Sorrow that each of my parents departed Earth very near this time, also. I have sorrow that he didn't experience all of childhood and adolescence as I did, rightly or wrongly. I am also sorrowful for our nation which has deteriorated so significantly since Daniel's departure from it. So many children live in poverty now and are dependent either upon foodstamps or foodbanks or both. I hope your holiday is better than mine !