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Life Happens: Donít rush the holiday season

HAMBURG ó Halloween is coming, which means that Christmas commercials are already on television. I think late autumn gets a little overshadowed, in the marketing rush toward the Christmas season.

When I was a kid, I couldnít wait for Halloween. I used to count the days until I could dress in a costume and run willy-nilly through my neighborhood with a pillowcase, gathering as much candy as I could carry. I didnít stop until either my legs were too tired to take another step or the pillowcase was so heavy that it was dragging on the ground. Either way, it was a sugar rush of excitement that I waited for all year.

But it wasnít all about the candy. I spent weeks thinking about my costume. I agonized over what to wear and how to put it together. I loved a good mask. I could be incognito. I could hide in plain sight. For a shy kid, it was a liberating experience to step outside my usual persona and be wild, loud and totally somebody else.

Oct. 31 was a magical night, in so many ways, back then. The clocks were turned back around that time, so it was dark by dinner time. It was usually cold.

Some years, it snowed. If that was the case, we had two choices: We could try to stuff a winter coat under the costume, and look like a scary Michelin man, or ruin everything and wear it on the outside, covering up our elaborate creations. Usually, because I am a purist, I would sacrifice warmth for art and run out the door without a coat before my mother could notice.

Some years it was warm, and those were the best of all. Trudging through the leaves in the dark, from yard to yard, in a costume shown to best advantage, was better than the treats waiting at each door.

The smell of pumpkins warmed by candles and the wafting aromas of apples, wet leaves and caramel made me wish the night would last forever. But of course, it never did. There werenít any curfews back then, but around 9 oíclock, doors would start to close and porch lights would be switched off, giving a clear message that Halloween was over and it was time to go home.

After the candy was counted and categorized by size and brand and the last of the make-up had been washed off, I would hoard my stash. I kept it hidden from the wandering eyes of five siblings or, for that matter, any grown-ups who might be hankering for a sugar fix.

That stockpile of candy would last almost a month. I ate a little every day, making it last as long as possible.

Back then, it felt like the long, slow, lingering autumn melted gradually into Thanksgiving, which gave way gently to the Christmas season. Everything in its time. Everything thoroughly enjoyed, before the next holiday debuted.

It seems a shame to rush through this transitional season. There is a lot of autumn to be enjoyed, right now.
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