Sherrill Joseph is the author of the Botanic Hill Detectives mystery series for middle-grade students. You can find out more about her on her website www.sherrilljoseph.com, or by clicking here, see her last post here, and find her books here.
Some people do or do not celebrate Halloween because of their religious beliefs. Regardless, many of us love Halloween, and I am no exception. As the sun sets each October 31 and darkness overtakes our souls and neighborhoods, we—children and adults alike—are afforded the opportunity to address the mysteries that frighten us and even celebrate or poke fun at them.
But does Halloween happen only once a year?
You might be surprised to learn that I celebrate fifty-three Halloweens annually! Maybe more. Given the calendar, how can that be, you ask? I will explain. But to set the stage, some nostalgia:
I still live in the neighborhood where I grew up in San Diego, California. Its century-old wrinkly sidewalks, mature palm trees, and historic Craftsman and Spanish Mission Revival homes have captivated me since I was a little girl. Wonderful Halloween allowed me to set foot inside the living rooms of some of those magnificent old houses on my unchanged trick-or-treat route.
My older cousin, twin sister, and I would always travel south from my house, ten blocks down and back, to scavenge for candy. Our goal? To hit up “the rich houses” as the three of us called the huge two-story “mysterious” homes that enthralled me. They earned that nickname because many of their owners generously gave both a big box of Cracker Jacks and a full-sized Hershey bar! None of those puny “bite-sized” morsels you see today. (Time to head back to the store!)
Along the way, I remember willing Halloween’s ambiance and magic to possess me. (I still do!) I would watch the sky for witches on broomsticks, black cats darting across moonlit front yards, and grinning jack-o’-lanterns glowing orange with the required aroma from their charred cavities and topknots when sputtering candle flames did their jobs too well.
And when at last we gained entry to some of the spooky, dimly-lit homes, my attention shifted away from the sugary treats to the bigger prize—the majestic, winding staircases! But darn. I was not allowed to climb them. So, my gaze reluctantly returned to the owners and the bowls of goodies they held out. Or we were offered doughnuts and cider as the older ladies, who I knew were witches wearing tattered shawls, would sit in their rocking chairs, look us over, and comment on our clever costumes as fireplaces’ flames crackled (cackled?) in competition.
Halloween was the most enchanting time for me as a child, so I vowed never to give it up. To that end, early every Sunday morning as vampires make haste to their coffins before the sun rises, I retrace my steps down those same ten blocks and back, reliving the magical Halloween nights when the three of us hit up “the rich houses.” Surely, bats flitted through the palm fronds.
So, for those fifty-two yearly Sundays, plus October 31, of course, I am privileged to celebrate Halloween fifty-three times a year! But more important than earning my first 5,000 steps of the day on each of those walks, I am transported back to my childhood once again. And when the kid in me beckons for a treat on one of the other six days of the week, down those blocks we go.
Happy Halloween, everyone! May you relive some enchanting Halloweens tonight as you create new memories. And every time you celebrate it, do not forget to look for “the rich houses.” Boo!