I guess the end of year holidays are my favorite. They come so closely together, and instead of rushing straight to Christmas I like to savor the moments of all the individual days and what they have to offer. It’s no wonder we feel like time is rushing by when all of the Halloween decorations are sold out by the end of September and the stores are already full of Christmas trees. Keep the jack-o’-lanterns stocked until October 31, I say.

This year is going to be fun for us, despite the circumstances. We’ve never gone to more than four or five houses for trick or treating anyway, and I feel we can still safely knock on those doors this year.

I plan to begin the morning with pumpkin flavored cinnamon rolls. We are going to carve pumpkins and make some other crafts. We’ll have popcorn and M&M’s while we watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and “Hocus Pocus”— in which I starred as a child … just kidding but the kid in the move could pass as my sister. We will go trick or treating and have chili and grilled cheese sandwiches and candy for dinner.

I like the idea of chili on Halloween because it reminds me of the fall hayride we’d have every year in high school.

I’ve never eaten chili outright. I don’t eat beans. But I’d dip a good sleeve or two of crackers in the chili juice and eat them. I always loved the hayride and wasn’t too scared when we rode through the graveyard.

I also loved the Halloween carnival. The school stopped having it, for some reason, long before I graduated. But it was the most fun. It took over the entire school, it seemed. The little gym would be filled to capacity with games and pumpkin painting and face painting and any kind of fun a kid could think of. My favorite game was probably the cake walk.

I won on several occasions and I will never forget the way my heart raced and I rushed to find a chair when the music stopped playing.

When I ran out of tickets, I’d wander up to the lunch room and see how mama was faring at Bingo. It was always exciting when she won something. I’d play a few rounds. Corn was used in place of a bingo chip and one time I had my pinky on the last remaining number I needed, and Mama thought I had a bingo. Sadly, I don’t think I ever did win that game.

When I got bored there, I might walk over and get a hot dog and a coke from the Home-Ec room. Maybe I’d browse through Mr. Reynolds country store. Maybe my friends and I would go through spook house set up in the Spanish room.

I’d leave the carnival each year with armful of little prizes and a heart full of gladness at the fun I’d had. I loved a good Halloween carnival so much that I’d go to the one at my dad’s school all by myself. I must have been braver as a child. They had a pretty good cakewalk, which I was also lucky at.

I think I must really miss playing the cakewalk.

One night after the Halloween carnival, which I think had changed to the Fall Festival by this time, my mom and I saw a cat on the side of the road on our way home. We stopped and started talking to it, and it didn’t move, but just sat there staring at us. I heard someone or something running quickly down the side of the mountain towards us and told Mama to go go go. It was one of the spookier things that ever happened to me during the Halloween season. I later named the thing coming towards us the Cat Man and made up a long story about him.

This year there will be a full moon on Halloween. Maybe something spooky will happen. But I hope not, because I’m already scared of the dark.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former 

Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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