“Trick or Treat!” they shouted as I’ve opened the front door and they held open their bags.

“I’ve got the treats,” I replied “What trick (a song or dance or joke or riddle) can you offer in exchange?” 
Silence. Giggles.  Happy faces on accompanying parents.

And then, each year, the jokes would come. The dancing feet would tap. The songs would erupt. And the riddles would come forth.  “Why is a seagull called a seagull?”   “Because it flies over the sea, and if it flew over a bay it would be called a bagel!”

A little girl, about three, recited her numbers in Spanish.   A little boy said, “I remember you and this house. I’ve got my joke ready for you!”  And he did!

In some parts of the world, this night begins the ancient Christian three-day observance of Allhallowtide, All Hallows’ Eve, predated from Celtic harvest festivals such as Samhain, designed as a time to remember those who have died.   For some, Hallowe’en is a secular celebration
… trick-or-treating
… carving pumpkins
… apple bobbing
… visiting haunted attractions.
For some, it’s part of their Christian religious observance
… attending church services on All Saints Day on November 1st
… lighting candles in remembrance of loved ones
… visiting graves and paying their respects to the deceased.

As the last of the little ones left with treats in their bags and smiles on their faces each year,  I closed the door; turned out the outdoor lights; reflected on the innocence, the wonder, the fun of the night in the faces of the children and their accompanying parents; and extinguished the candle inside the zendoodled pumpkin, murmuring a wee prayer of gratitude that a spirituality of play is still celebrated as “shadows of a thousand years rise again, unseen and voices whisper in the trees “tonight it’s All Hallow’s Eve!”

This year it will be different.
This year, a pandemic envelopes the globe.
This year, lock-downs are in place; COVID19 numbers are rising; people are dying.
Some children with their parents will be out, going from door to door, hoping to get Hallowe’en candy.
Some homes which, in previous days, were decorated and had porch lights on to welcome the little ones, will be dark this year
… like mine.  

Every year, I wish for “a happy, fun and safe Hallowe’en!”
This year, I wish for the same – “happy, fun,”
but most of all, 
I wish for a “safe Hallowe-en” for all.

And in the meantime, I’m going to make more of these Hallowe’en Cat Cards (you’ve got to focus on the ‘black’ to see the cat emerge), leave them on the little table outside my door or drop them off in mailboxes of children, who each year come here, Trick or Treating, but who this year, will not. 

But they’ll know I’m thinking of them.
And, they’ll be safe.   🙂 

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©  June Maffin
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© June Maffin

“Shadows of a thousand years” author: Dexter Kozen

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