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October is my favorite month. I love the nip of crisp air, the brilliance of sun dancing on bright pumpkins, the sweetness of an apple after the first frost, the crunch of leaves at my feet, the snuggly warmth of sweaters, the smell of a jasmine candle and even that first burn of the furnace heating up the dust in the ducts. I love the dance of anticipation in children’s eyes when they discuss what they’ll wear on the night of spooks. I love every day of October, even the surprise snowy days. It’s also when I have my birthday.

As a child I looked forward to my birthday all year. For that day, I could choose the menu, and what type of cake (spice with butter creme frosting). One year in spring I told my folks my chosen menu: fried trout and corn on the cob. That summer, my dad went fishing often and they froze enough for my birthday dinner. Corn was also frozen after the September harvest, and I got my desired meal. I always felt extra special because of my birthday.

I still probably put too much emphasis on the meal. But it’s something I can do to show someone how much they mean to me. Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday and her family came for dinner. For two days I had prepared dishes from scratch: won ton soup, ham fried rice, and her request: delicious lettuce roll-ups (P.F. Chang style) followed by Paula Deen’s scrumptious pumpkin cheesecake. (With the internet, who uses Betty Crocker?)

For me, a birthday is a day to celebrate someone, their uniqueness, their goodness, and that they are part of your life. It is a day to say, “may you be happy, today and this whole year to come.”

And my birthday is a day for me to look back and remember the blessings I’ve had during the year just passed. I don’t mind getting older (though I may be vague about the exact number of years—somewhere between invincible and decrepit), but each year is a year of blessings, of learning, and loving.

October is also a month of anniversaries. Today is my wedding anniversary. I count myself blessed to have been married to my best friend these past years. My son and his wife also celebrate an anniversary in October. I hope someday they will feel the bond that comes after decades of caring for another person. I always figured love should get stronger every year. I want a marriage like my grandparents.

And my dear hubby’s birthday is the day before mine. All this celebrating in one month only adds to the reasons I love October.

So it’s no wonder that long ago I quit putting much emphasis on that other holiday at the end of the month. It’s still fun in an eerie way, but for over 15 years I have avoided the spooky aspect of witches and grim reapers. That is why it was surprising to my son when he and his wife came to dinner a week ago and found small skeletons hanging by twine above the dining table.

He said, “Mom! I thought you didn’t do things like that. That is just weird. Why did you?”

I replied, “They were Barbies when I tied them up there.”