Halloween reminds most people of jack-o-lanterns, caramel coated apples, cider doughnuts, costumes of all kinds, and harvest time fun shared with family and friends. Certainly, it means all these things for me, too, but in addition to that, Halloween reminds me of something more. When the leaves turn and the darkness sets in early, when the winds pick up and there is chimney smoke in the air, as the days near the end of October, my mind turns in a special way to my younger sister, Christine, and to a certain tree that once grew in my parents' woods. Strange? Let me explain...
Every year, for many, many years in a row my sister, Christine, and I would climb that tree on Halloween Day. In the late afternoon, we would climb the tree and sit in its' branches overlooking the autumn woods in the autumn light and we would talk about the excitement of the season, the fun we had had at our school parties and what we hoped for in the evening to come.
It was an important part of the day for me, and perhaps the most important part of the fun. It was the hope and joy and anticipation. It was childhood excitement shared with a friend I knew I would have my whole life long. And the memory of our secret meetings is, for me, the memory of childhood joy. I read recently, on someone's blog, (please someone come forward and claim this so that I may link to you) a Marion Garrety quote, "A sister is a little piece of childhood that can never be lost." How true. How beautiful.
I seem to remember climbing that tree one year though we were getting a little old for it. I think we knew the holiday excitement of childhood was fading and we wanted to climb that tree one last time while we could; one last time before it would be our turn to put on the show for our own little ones, before we had the responsibility, the baking, the planning, the shopping, and the costume making.
I believe that tree is no longer standing in my parents' woods, and this seems appropriate, too. The excitement of my own childhood is past, though it is preserved in my sister. (In all of my sisters and my brothers!) Now is the time to give, what I have been given, to my own children.
The memory of this tree, and the time Christine and I spent in its branches, makes it that much easier for me to see through all the work of the holidays and into the wonder and joy I am creating in these little hearts. May they always remember sharing these times together!
I love you, Christine! Happy Halloween!