October 4, 2018

Welcoming October

autumn leaves
October has been my favorite month of the year as long as I can remember. When I was a child, growing up on the West Coast if the United States, October signified the beginning of fall. It was when the leaves changed and when one would first notice a nip in the air. Summer was replaced with fall, and winter was around the corner. And of course, October was the month of Halloween.

October doesn't hold quite the same magic today. There is no fall season here in Mississippi, as summer turns to "winter" rather abruptly. There only seem to be a handful of trees where the leaves change colors, and the oppressive humidity may not subside until late in the month. Halloween is frowned upon by the legions of Southern Baptists who occupy this state. These days, I usually watch more horror movies during October than usual, but that is about it.

What I remember most about October from my childhood was that it was a time of transition. Summer clothes were put away as the weather changed. The plants that drove me crazy with allergies during the summer months disappeared, and I could breathe freely again. Time seemed to move more quickly as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas gave me things to anticipate. There was always a sense of excitement in the air.

And how I used to love Halloween! Even when I was too old for the door-to-door candy begging ritual and no longer believed in ghosts, monsters, or gods, Halloween was special. It was about mischief. It was about hiding behind the mask of anonymity. It was about pushing oneself to take some risks. It was the one night when we would cause trouble for no reason other than the date. I did plenty of stupid things on Halloweens past. While I wouldn't do such things now, I remember many of them fondly even if some carry a twinge of guilt.

October always seemed to be about possibility. With the various markers of transition and change, it felt like new possibilities were on the horizon. Things might be different, and they might be so in exciting ways. Maybe that is what I most miss today. That buzz in the air I recall from the Octobers of my youth is something I have not been able to re-capture.

This post originally appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2009. It was edited in 2018 to fix broken links and correct typos.