This is my baby-girl, Pooka, about 20 years ago:
She was born when I was young, and it was just the two of us for a while, before my Beloved came into the picture. (Literally, in this case – that’s his shadow.) She’s 26 now, and she lives in North Carolina. It darn near killed me when she moved away, but she had some very good reasons to go. If it weren’t for free long-distance on cell phones and the internet, the situation would be intolerable for me. As it is, we are able to maintain a day-to-day connection, mostly on Facebook.
When Halloween approaches, I miss her terribly. Our whole family loves Halloween. (After all, for many years, the entire clan lived in Anoka, The Halloween Capital of the World.) A few of us – including my mother, a couple of my sisters, and most of my nieces and nephews – have been known to go a little mad in October (in a good way.) I suppose it’s natural, then, that both of my children love the season. My son, who has his birthday in October, really enjoys Halloween, but my truest Halloween companion has always been my daughter. Some of our best days together involved going to the pumpkin fields, carving jack-o-lanterns, decorating the house, planning parties and – of course – trick-or-treating. There were even a couple of years – when I was struggling with depression – where she shouldered the responsibility for making Halloween happen for her brother.
This month I am particularly pleased with my girl. From 1,200 miles away, she is working hard to celebrate Halloween with the family and friends she left behind, here in Minnesota.
Early in September, we all received an invitation to join a Facebook group that she created. Here’s some of the text:
Welcome to the 31 Nights of Halloween. This is a month-long game, and I am inviting all of you to participate. The game is points-based, and you gain those by doing things that are in the spirit of Halloween. At least one Halloweeny thing from a core list must be done each day to accrue points, such as watching a horror movie or going on a haunted hay ride. Bonus points will be available for other things that are also in the spirit. At the end of October there will be prize for the spooktacular winner, and a mark of shame for the one who comes in Dead Last.
Ten households will be participating. She has written up a detailed list of activities that will earn points, and created a set of rules that reward the sharing of our Halloween experiences with each other. She’s purchased small prizes for everyone. She’s taken pledges from all participants and the winner’s pot (to be spent only on Halloween decorations) is $55.
I’m hurrying through this post, because I’ve got to go carve a pumpkin now – I want to be the first to post a jack-o-lantern picture in our Facebook group. (But I won’t do it until after midnight.)
*UPDATE INSERTED AFTER MIDNIGHT:*
I earned TWO spookpoints for this – one for reading Halloween poetry, one for carving the pumpkin.
I’m in the lead right now, mwha-ha-ha-ha!
In other news:
Last year, not long after I started The Paranormalist, I did National Blog Post Month in November, as a substitute for National Novel Writing Month. (BlogHer hosts the writing challenge every month of the year. The most popular month to participate, however is November.) I enjoyed it. Even then, though, I realized that from 2012 forward, it would be more appropriate for me to celebrate NaBloPoMo in October. This year I won’t be winging it as much as I did last year. I’ve actually mapped out a plan for every day in October and I’m really excited to begin.