See You In September

It’s gone.

It just walked right out.

August is no more. Summer is packing it’s bags and Atumn is moving in. I’m okay with that, though. Fall is my favorite. Warm days. Cool nights. The window open. Me cocooned in blankets. DW freezing because I’ve got all the warmth in my cocoon. Fall is fantastic.

Fall brings baseball post-season, football, and all things pumpkin spice. My Orioles are contesting for a wild card spot. While I’m not all that into pumpkin spice, I could eat my weight in pumpkin pie. Dump a tub of whipped cream on top and I’m in my glory.

September isn’t just for ball games and pumpkins, though. September is also for the return of school days. While challenging, the rewards are phenomenal. Getting the kids to bed when they’re used to to summer schedule bedtimes is like hostage negotiations. If you offer too little they’ll refuse slumber. Offer too much and you won’t be able to keep your end of the bargin. They will remember everything you offer too so don’t even think about sweetening the deal in hopes they’ll forget. It’ll be the first thing they ask for in the morning. If you can’t deliver they’ll never go to bed again. Ever.

Besides bedtime, there is also the joy of back-to-school shopping. I get more than a little giddy when I see aisles and aisles of back-to-school supplies. Brand new pencils with no teeth marks. Markers with all their caps on tight. Paper so crisp and clean waiting for a math problem or an essay or notes on history, science, or passed to friend asking them if they can sit together at lunch. Folders and binders in more colors than a rainbow can offer. There are fresh, clean glue sticks not yet dried out, full of glitter and dirt and half eaten.

I know the back-to-school supply list can seem a bit archaic. It can also get a bit pricey. I’ve seen various parents rant about how expensive it can be. They question the supplies that are asked for. While I can’t speak for all teachers, I can speak for myself and the ones I know. We don’t ask for things we don’t need. But as one mother put it in her rant, “You want a microwave for your classroom, I’ll get you a microwave! Here, I’ll get you a pillow, too!” She was thankful teachers took her kids for the day. Parents seem to be thankful for school to start again because it means their kids aren’t at home driving them to Crazyville, Insanity for what they think is a good time. What they forget is the flip side of the coin. The teacher doesn’t have just their kid. They have 20-30 other kids, too.

If you’re the kind of parent who understands the plight of teachers, slip in a gift card for pumpkin spice latte or a medium large bucket o’coffee with those back-to-school supplies because you’re over the Walmart excited for school be to back. And because it’s not just the kids who are going back to school.

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All Hallows Eve

Today’s tradition has it’s origins roughly 2,000 years ago during the time of Celts who celebrated their New Year on November 1st. The celebration was known as Samhain. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.  They would extinguish their woodstoves, light huge bonfires, and burn crops and animals as sacrifices. They would don costumes and masks – which were often animal heads. After the celebration they would relight their woodstoves from the sacred bonfire to protect them through the dark, cold winter.

By 43 A.D.  the Romans had conquered most of the Celtic territory and began incorporating their own celebrations. They would celebrate the passing of the dead in late October. On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III opened the celebration to honor all saints as well as martyrs and moved it from May 13 to November 1. All Saints Day was also known as All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day). The night before it, the traditional Celtic celebration, became known as All Hallows Eve. Which is where we get today’s name of Halloween.

Some theorise that Halloween lost its appeal to death and ghosts in Protestant, Colonial New England. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

New immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped popularize the celebration of Halloween. Combining Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

As for the history of the Jack-O-Lantern you can read the story of Stingy Jack (it’s a very short one). It was named after the will-o’-the-wisp or a jack o’lantern that is the phenomenon of strange light seen flickering over peat bogs. People hollowed out pumpkins, turnips, or potatoes to imitate this light. Some believed it warded off the evil spirits associated with the celebrations of this time of year.

Therefore, as tradition proclaims, we have carved our pumpkins (their own designs) and will be trick-or-treating this evening. Thor and Captain America will collect treats and Mom and Dad will invoke the “parent tax” and help them eat it.

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I don’t have a picture of Crash and Bang in their costumes yet, but I do have one of my brother and nephew. It’s a classic.

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The Force is strong with them.