and now, november

Whew. And now, November. Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, way back before it became commercialized, in the days when Franny in Countdown worried over her costume, and that costume was thrown together -- like everyone else's was -- from scavenged bits and pieces and a lot of ingenuity.

When I was a kid, a neighbor lady sat outside at a card table, at the top of her front walk, wearing a witch costume complete with hat, and utterly silent in the dark. The candy bowl was on the card table. You had to brave the walk and her silence in order to get to the treats. She never moved as you approached, but you got the feeling that she might, any minute, reach out and grab you. I was terrified and awed by her and have never forgotten the delicious thrill she gave me and the neighborhood kids each Halloween.

Now I'm grown up. In an effort to emulate my witchy neighbor and expand on her generosity, we've made a fire in our driveway for over thirty years, where we've welcomed trick-or-treaters and their parents and our friends, where we've sipped cider and dished chili and hot dogs and stories.

We've watched people come and go from around that fire. We've watched our kids grow up. When my kids were little they made tombstones and "dead" people and we played spooky music, long before you could find it in the stores or online -- there wasn't an "online."

I am so glad for those memories, and those families, and their kids, and those moments, crunching through the fallen leaves, running from house to house, everything looking different -- both scary and somehow comforting -- in the dark.

Now I make a fire at the new house in Atlanta. Friends still come and sit and swap. I didn't see my grands on Halloween, but I have pictures of all three girls in their costumes -- I make beautiful grandgirls, don't I? I'm glad to see the scavenged tradition lives on! If you look closely, you can see my granddog Wesley's mohawk. He was with us all evening, and wanted more than anything to be right in the thick of it all... and he was.

The day after Halloween at our house is traditionally for roasting the pumpkin seeds, making a comforting meal, and getting back to work. I'm at the halfway point with the copyedited manuscript for Revolution. My goal is to have it finished and on my editor's desk by Monday morning. This is Saturday. I can do it. It's November.

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