Ghosts in the Machine
I have tried, in years past, to get the house decorated and ready both for fall and for Halloween when the calendar moved to October. This year, for whatever reason, I’m behind.
For the record, when my wife was still around, she had an amazing decorative sense. She would find the most unique things to put around the house. We have a sign proclaiming this our haunted house and our name is embroidered into it. There are the aforementioned ghosts, metal trick-or-treat bags that have room for a candle and make shadows on the wall.
I honestly don’t have the decorator’s touch. I wish I did sometimes, but there’s no changing that.
So imagine my surprise when I came home and found ghosts in the house.
Okay, not real ghosts, but my sons had found the candles we bought years ago when we lived in another state. They had miraculously survived the hot, sweltering trip from Texas to California. Our cups, hanging above the sink, were replaced with Jack-o-lantern cups. The boys had found pieces of our decorations put away in our pantry and decided to put them out.
IN the last couple years I went from embracing my wife’s vision to making one of our own. It’s a hodgepodge, I grant you. It’s not all the same. The sign remains on the door. The ghosts, the metal candle holders, all those things are here. But where we would avoid fake spiderwebs and other things in years past I’ve gone with putting them out.
Last year the front of our house had a mass of webs with a giant fake spider in them. Andrea hated spiders so we wouldn’t even have a cute one on there. Our staircase is covered with them. Smaller plastic spiders, costing not more than a couple bucks, are all over them.
The month always had a rough connotation for me since the day before Halloween was Andrea’s birthday. I had an annual love/hate relationship with that day because I either got it completely right or completely wrong. There was no in-between. Now we just celebrate the day like it’s a day for all of us.
I think because we took the sad connotation of that day away the kids still have the ability to look so forward to Halloween. One son wants to get a wig and play “Heatmiser” from the Christmas cartoons. They’re already mapping out their route to trick-or-treat.
It’s a tribute to the resiliency of kids, I suppose, that they know this could be a sad time. Fall was their Mom’s and my favorite time of year. We’d get all goofy and silly. Their Mom would wear a big fuzzy sweater of overalls (they were popular when my girls were little, she had foregone them later) and we’d go to the pumpkin patch. Now that I’m their only parent we sometimes go to the theme-park like places. Other times we simply buy the pumpkins at the grocery store and make a night of carving them.
Like so many other things, we could have let this holiday bring us down. Instead, it’s like every other holiday at every other house.
The ghosts don’t haunt us . . . they just become part of our home.