You Can’t Cancel Halloween

I have heard so many people speculate on whether or not Halloween will be canceled due to COVID.

I have told each and every one of them the same thing. “You cannot cancel Halloween.”

We can cancel trick-or-treating. We can cancel parties and parades. We likely should.

But Halloween is not only those things.

Yes, when I tell people why it is my favorite holiday, free candy may have a little something to do with it. 

But really it is about the joy and the fun of pretending to be something magical or whimsical or fantastical. It is about spending time outside in the spectacular fall weather and enjoying the sights and sounds of this time of year. It is about carving a pumpkin, making cups full of dirt and worms made of crushed Oreos and gummy candy.

You can’t cancel any of that.

I said last week that I am done focusing on what I can’t do. This is my favorite time of the year, and I intend to enjoy my favorite holiday in style!

I will always make safe choices. I will always encourage you to do the same. We need to maintain distance and wear masks and wash our hands.

But we also need to celebrate and enjoy the things we love the most.

I have seen our students find safe ways to dress up and enjoy an entirely new kind of Homecoming. I have seen our music teachers film the most incredible outdoor concerts, so our students have a chance to perform for others. I have seen example after example of people finding new ways to safely do the things they love.

We are creative, resilient people. And we will not cancel Halloween.

 

Looking in the Mirror

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, it’s not Christmas. It’s October. Pumpkin spice, rustic leaves, sweatshirt and shorts weather.

I’ve written every year about October. There is this feeling of warmth and of settling in to cozy things. Hot drinks replace lemonade, and the leaves catch fire.

But there has also been a stress in schools every year at this time. Wrapping up a quarter, conferences, and an end to the honeymoon that comes at the start of every year adds stress. I’ve written about it so many times.

But this year is different.

This year we are mired down by a virus and an election and unrest. This year has been hard…

and I went quiet.

I have not posted a blog since June. Honestly I have been nervous to post. I’ve been worried that my voice in the world would just add to the sometimes angry discourse happening on social media. But writing is how I process the world. This blog is where I am my most vulnerable and my most transparent. Without it, I’ve lost a little piece of myself.

No more.

Has this year been a challenge? Without question. But it has also been filled with weddings and babies and music and laughter.  I have watched Netflix and camped and even saw a play outside with my parents.  I will no longer quiet my voice.

Every single day is a gift…even in 2020.  If we spend our time focused on what we can’t do or what we have to do or what has changed or what we’re missing because of COVID, then we will miss all of the good happening around us.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  We need to live today to its fullest!

For me, that has always meant a pumpkin pie blizzard in my favorite month of the year…and this blog.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Anne of Green Gables

 

Embracing October 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  October has returned, and in its usual fashion it is equal parts glorious and hard.  No, that is far from accurate.  It is mostly beautiful weather and trips to the pumpkin patch and football and concerts and plays.  It is mostly vanilla-flavored candles and fun decorations on the mantle.  I love October!

But it can also be hard.  My children have been busy with school and clinical and jobs.  My work family has been busy as well.  It’s been amazing and important work, but it’s been a lot.  A few of us got pretty sick, and I have to admit that I have not been as patient or gracious or kind as I would like to be.  This can be a challenging time.

Something I have learned through the years though is that spending too much time focused on the negative serves no value.

October has returned, and I am thrilled.

This has always been my favorite time of the year.

Halloween is big in my family.  What’s not to love?  Costumes and candy and pumpkin-spiced everything.  This year my daughter is going all-out in a “cubicle decorating contest” at work.  It is becoming epic.  I’ve got pumpkins in the entryway and gourds at work.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween.

The weather changed this week.  A more sudden shift from warm to cold than last year.  The leaves are turning, and the fall rain has settled in.  It is finally jacket and sweatshirt weather.  There is comfort in thick socks and a soft sweater.  There is comfort in wrapping up on the couch in a blanket reading a book.  I spent hours doing that this weekend.

In the sweltering heat of July and in the frigid cold of January, I sometimes wonder why we live here.  October reminds me!   Autumn in the Midwest is spectacular.  Nebraska is at her best when the rustic colors fill the trees and the gentle rain coats the streets.  This is my favorite time of the year, and I know I am not alone.

This will be a busy week in our district.  Conferences are in full swing, grades are finalized and being shared with families, and there are professional development and teacher work days next week.  There will be some long days.

I encourage you to pause in the midst of the crazy this week and savor the season.  It goes much too fast.

Focus less on the negative and more on the positive.

When someone says, “How are you?”  Answer, “Fantastic!”

Positivity is contagious.  Spread it around.

October has returned, and I am thrilled.

Pumpkin Patches and Bobbing for Apples

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October has returned, and I am thrilled.

I grew up on one of those streets you see in the movies, blacktop not pavement, lined with tall oaks older than the people who lived in the houses.  Autumn was magical.  As a child, I would rake leaves into complex mazes in the backyard with my friends.  At the end of the maze would always be a pile of leaves large enough to jump into and be totally hidden from view.  Hot chocolate with marshmallows was the reward when we’d finally get the leaves into the bags and hauled up to the street.  Half a dozen of us would trick-or-treat together for hours in the dark venturing further and further from our block each year.  A particularly good memory is when my parents would take me over to my grandma and grandpa’s neighborhood to trick-or-treat.  The house up the hill had this huge bell in the front yard, and all of the kids got to ring it for Halloween…better than any piece of candy would ever have been.

This has always been my favorite time of the year.

I hope I was able to make some of those same kind of memories for my children.  Halloween is big in my family.  What’s not to love?  Dressing up in costumes, seeing your neighbors, getting candy just for asking.  Many, many years as my own children were growing up, we’d host Halloween parties.  We would bob for apples and mummy-wrap the kids in toilet paper.  I’d make ghosts in the graveyard cakes and ooey-gooey things out of jello.  One year (and only one year) I even sewed their costumes from scratch.

Some years, when the weather is just right, October is absolute perfection in the Midwest.  The temperatures cool slowly which in turn allows the leaves to turn slowly, and we get the chance to truly appreciate the beauty of a Nebraska fall.

This has been one of those years.  And I have been particularly nostalgic.

The seasons have always been such a powerful literary device.  The analogy of new life each spring has always rung true for me.  But this year I am taken by the fleeting nature of fall.  Many times the leaves go from lush and green, to rustic colors of gold, to falling to the ground much too quickly.  Some years, when I am busy and distracted, I almost miss it.  This will not be one of those years.  I will work on appreciating the moment.

My children have grown up too quickly.

My career in education is passing too quickly.

Time itself goes too quickly.

This is not melancholy.  I am overjoyed at the season.  I am blessed beyond measure, and I am working hard to take it all in.  I’ve written before about the crazy nature of October for those of us in education.  This year is no exception.  I know it will slow down, but I am in the middle of busy.

I guess I am just reminding myself that fall is short.  My favorite month will pass too quickly.

Slow down.

Watch the sunset.

Take a picture in a pumpkin patch.

Winter is coming.