Christmas in October

I stopped to admire his four elaborately
and beautifully carved pumpkins,
artfully arranged
next to the canopy set up in his front yard,
covering a table and chairs.
There was chili on in the kitchen, he told me,
and behind him, I could see people
walking in and through the rooms of the first floor of his house.
And I remembered a few weeks ago,
dropping kids off at school,
he had said something about starting the chili.

This was his favorite time of the year, he said.
“Better than Thanksgiving.
Better than Christmas.”
Minister that I am, I bristled a little at that.

But as I continued down the street,
it occurred to me that there really is no
other neighborhood celebration quite like this.
When else do you knock at the doors all around,
of those known to you and unknown—
when else do you stand and knock at the doors,
and they’re opened, and you’re gifted?

Maybe caroling at Christmas, once upon a time,
included such rich celebration of community,
but no more.
Not in our neighborhood anyway.

I’m going to have to think on that some more.
In our culture’s celebration of it,
is Halloween, in some significant ways,
more of a Christmas ideal than Christmas?


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