It's the last week of October and I'm bracing myself. While we don't have to endure the onslaught of Halloween inside the prison, October 31st marks the serious beginning of the holiday season. Every year it's a bit different, but like it or not, here it comes.
Starting with Halloween, men start to get nostalgic about their kids. They want cards to send to them, they start talking about going trick or treating with them, they remember great costumes or antics of their own pasts. Some of it is true.
Not all of it is. Some of it is wishful thinking. A fair number are talking about kids who are now 7, 8, 9 whom they haven't seen since shortly after birth, if they were around for the event. Apart from a few pictures, they haven't been anywhere near that kid. They'd like to be. They should be, if they fit into the Righteous Daddy mode, but too often, it's wishful thinking.
And that's where it gets sad. As hard as we work to get ready to go back into the community, the reality is that there are bridges that got burned, roads that weren't taken, promises left empty, and there is no going back.
If Halloween is a bitter-sweet time, imagine the Thanksgiving spread, happy homecomings, presents under the tree, all those seasonal images with harsh edges around them. It's no wonder people retreat to their beds and pull the covers over their heads. I get it. I'm one of them.
On the other hand, Sunday we'll celebrate All Saints and that's a fine and wonderful feast day, a great one for someone with a Lint Trap Brain when it comes to knowing weird things about the saints. Sunday I'll tell the story about Sr. Marion, my fifth-grade teacher, who was the genius who told me to never mind the people who accused me of not having a "Christian" name, and encouraged me instead to become the first Saint Shannon.
I'm not there yet, but as St. Teresa of Avila once said, or should have, if she didn't: "We won't get there until we all get there."
Happy Feast Day!