The month of October brings in seasonal and emotional changes.
The days are getting shorter. Some people will go to work in
the darkness of early morning and come home in the darkness of
evening, often without seeing much sunlight in between. For
those who prefer the cooler weather, this is an ideal time of
year to take a vacation at off-peak prices.
presents us with two controversial holidays, Columbus Day and
Halloween. The federal government recognizes Columbus Day as
a legal holiday. Many people honor Columbus as the official
discoverer of America, the one who opened the door for a
nation of immigrants. But there are other people, mostly
Native Americans, whose voices are becoming stronger in
objection to the status given Columbus. They feel it is an
absurdity to claim discovery of a land that was already
inhabited by indigenous peoples, and they credit Columbus with
the beginning of the slaughter of Natives.
becoming an expensive and flamboyant holiday. It divides
people into two basic camps: those with religious objections
and those without. The religious objectors have concerns
about the demonic influences conjured up in some Halloween
celebrations. They are sensitive to the seductive attraction
of evil. For those without religious objection, Halloween is
one of the few American holidays without political or
religious basis: Christians, Jews, Republicans, Democrats,
and all ethnic groups can take their kids out
affords us the right to self-determination regarding these
holidays. The federal government may sanction Columbus Day,
but people are free to disagree with it and to dislike it.
People are free to honor Columbus with a parade, to use the
day off to shop at the sales, or to educate and litigate for
political change and historical accuracy. People can choose
how they want to raise their children. People can create
substitute church-related activities for their kids at
Halloween, or they can dress the kids up and walk them through
For those who
started back to school in September, the month of October
will have sifted out the dropouts and the classroom will have
stabilized itself. The school year will move steadily forward
and some people will soon have another A-grade or be closer
to another diploma of some sort.
After the lovely
orange pumpkins have been taken off the market and the bags of
candy have been devoured, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanza, and
Hannukah will quickly follow. For clinical and medical social
workers, that could mean helping patients who show increased
depression and suicidal tendencies. It will probably mean an
increase in D.U.I.'s and court referrals.
December are more significant in terms of holidays, but
October is the last month in which many people will see colors
outdoors. October has a fullness within itself. It gives us
warm, crisp colors: yellow, brown, orange, with some summer
green still in the background. Even though it will soon get
squeezed out by the long winter, October can hold its own.
This is a good
time to take a trip, to enjoy beauty and mystery, to study and
share in a school identity, to reflect on values and beliefs,
and to appreciate the struggles of our patients.
(Written 10/21/02 - Revised 08/01/06)
Until we meet