The JoJo Experience: A not-so-spooky story for a spooky day

Monica Godnick
editor-in-chief

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Free candy everywhere, dressing up in costumes and watching scary movies all while being surrounded by the beautiful autumn weather makes me so happy. There is also one more thing that makes me somewhat biased toward this spooky day: I was born on Halloween in 2001.

Some people ask me whether having a Halloween birthday is uncomfortable. I know that there is a lot going on that day so it might be overwhelming, but I like to see it this way: If for some reason everything goes wrong on my birthday one year, I can find some free candy and eat my feelings away. Therefore, I see the date of my birthday as a win-win situation.

The only downside is that school is never cancelled on that day. People might want to celebrate Halloween and I might want to celebrate my birthday but there is always some assigned homework, which ruins the Halloween spirit a little bit. I used to live abroad for seven years when my dad was sent to work overseas. We lived in Lima, Peru. There, they celebrated a Hispanic holiday right after Halloween named Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) so there would always be a day off after my birthday. Every year there when I was in elementary school, my mom would put together the greatest Halloween/Birthday party. I would still go to a Halloween party here too, but it wouldn’t be the wisest choice since I still have to wake up at 6 a.m. the next day.

My sister JoJo, who has special needs, is in love with the holiday as well. Her vision is her strongest sense, so the bold colors and patterns that people wear as their costumes drive her crazy (in the good way). When she sees my brother and me in our costumes every year she makes us model for her as if we were in a fashion show. Then, she gives us the happiest and purest look ever with her honey-colored eyes. Something as simple as putting on a costume makes her heart full of joy and I have always admired her for that.

JoJo also loves trick or treating. We take her around in her wheelchair and go door to door. She gets excited seeing the kids running around in their costumes, the attention grabbing decorations of each house and interacting with the people who give out candy. She can walk too, however, she has the cognitive development of a toddler combined with a strong personality. If we let her walk she would run everywhere and no one would be able to control her. In a neighborhood where cars still pass by that can be dangerous. She also enjoys riding around in her fuschia-colored wheelchair.

A lot of people with special needs are kids at heart, no matter how old they are, which is a beautiful thing. Many genuinely enjoy trick or treating and that is why there is a thing called “the blue basket.” If you are handing out candy and see a grown person with a blue basket, it indicates they are of special needs or possibly have autism. This prevents confusion for others who are not aware. This way the person giving out candy will not be ignorant or suspicious of their intentions if they see them react differently during that trick or treat moment.

It is crazy how one day can mean a range of different things to different individuals. Hopefully everyone is enjoying whatever the scary season means for you and if it means absolutely nothing at all, that’s OK too.

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