Tag Archives: Halloween

From the Turkey to the Manger

I’m writing on the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. Though most of us still have a bit of turkey left, we’re well on the way through the “My, what a wonderful bird!” stage and on into the “Let’s slap a hunk or two of turkey between bread” stage. We’ll soon belly up to Stage III: “Okay, let’s grind up what’s left and make turkey salad sandwiches.” Not for me, thanks. I’m okay with the first two stages, but I’ll pass on the third. After the poor bird hits the fan, I’m not much interested in him.

And now, though Madison Avenue started weeks ago (it’s a wonder Santa doesn’t end up skewered by a witch on a broom since some stores jump into Christmas almost before Halloween) and some folks are getting a jump on things by stringing and plugging the lights in a tad early, it really is time to start thinking about pulling out the Christmas stuff.

We’ll soon pull the plastic made-in-China tree out of its box and get busy, and it will be beautiful yet again. Still, I’m glad I grew up when getting the tree meant going to a tree lot, almost freezing but warming up over a wood fire lit in a 55-gallon drum, crunching snow underfoot as we walked down the rows of trees to pick just the right one, and then tying it onto the top of the family car to get it home. It smelled wonderful. It smelled like Christmas, and I love that smell.

For years, each year at about this time, I tempted fate by hanging over the eaves of our two-story tall house to put up the Christmas lights. A nose dive off a single story dwelling would be no fun, either, but there’s a word for a swan dive off our roof: FATAL. So nobody was happier than I was when I decided to build and light up some fiberboard shepherds who, along with their sheep, hang out just about halfway up the front of the house and who, I am relieved, pleased, and need to think, would look odd surrounded by additional Christmas lights.

Storyteller Garrison Keillor says that the folks in his Lake Wobegon town charged with setting up the city’s Christmas decorations at about this time each year still curse the volunteer handy man who built the decorations years ago out of 3/4-inch plywood! My fiberboard shepherds aren’t that heavy, and hanging those gents is a lot more fun than hanging string after string of lights at high altitude.

So I guess I’m about ready for the transition from “We Gather Together” and “Over the River and Through the Woods” to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

The “early church” of the first century was way too early to know anything about Thanksgiving American-style, but they could teach us a lot about giving thanks in general. The heart of their thanksgiving was this Advent sort of truth, a truth that bridges the gaps between all seasons: “For God so loved the world that he sent his Son.”

Which means he loves you. And me. A thought which makes it even easier to be truly thankful for that turkey, stages one, two, or even three.


       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.



“Trick or Treat” and Memories of Halloweens Past

Halloween 02

Well, I got to go “trick or treating” the other night. Halloween it was.

I’d not done that in a long time, but it surely brought back some vivid memories. Halloween has, since my childhood, never been all that big on my list of holidays. Even as an adult, after I’d learned enough history to know just a little about “All Hallows’ Eve,” it’s barely been for me a bump in the road on the way to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When our kids were little, we did the usual “dress up” stuff and enjoyed (or survived, from this stodgy parent’s point of view), the various carnivals, trick or treating, etc. They were cute, and I’m glad we did it, but my sons will tell you that I wasn’t as young then as the grandkids have made me now.

When I was a kid myself, we didn’t think anything about dressing up as Dracula or Frankenstein or such ghoulish sorts of folks. Vampire teeth of a plastic sort might not have been the best idea, dentally speaking, but I had a good time with powder, hair goo, fake blood, and a black cape. It was fake and it was fun and we knew it. I never felt the slightest temptation afterward to start sacrificing neighborhood pets.

I guess it was a simpler time—perhaps more naive, perhaps more innocent. Folks on one end of things who wanted to play with really dark stuff and truly scare people were either fewer in number or a lot quieter. And folks on the other end, always serious about making sure that everyone is always serious and scared that somebody might not be, seemed fewer in number, too.

I’ve since learned that real zealots, genuinely pagan or pretentiously pious, are all really scary, just in different ways. Good folks to avoid. (Both need to “light-en” up.) In any case, when Halloween, for reasons good or ill, got more and more complicated, it got less and less fun. But it was simply good fun and high on my list of good days when I was a little guy.

On Halloween evening, Mom and Dad helped us dress up, paint up, suit up, shoved buckets or bags in our hands, and kicked my little bro and me out the door of 125 N. Goliad to pillage the Amarillo neighborhood. I don’t know what Jim’s favorite treat was, but I was on the hunt for popcorn balls, chocolate, candy corn, Sweet Tarts, and maybe a caramel apple or two. One year I remember getting pretty much all of that and then erupting in something beyond gratitude.

Those memories flooded back on Halloween this year as a pretty little not-so-abominable snow lady’s daddy and I walked behind Her Frosty Highness, door to door, her Secret Service abominable detail. I took her to get donuts the next morning, just in case Her Icy-ness had not had enough icing. Then MawMaw and I skipped town.

Halloween is both a lot different and a whole lot the same as it once was. Like life, I suppose. What’s best about it at all times is still a gift from God and well worth a prayer of thanks as we turn toward Thanksgiving.


    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! You’ll find some new sample songs there! Just click on “Samples.”


Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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