Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Hokum

Guest Post by Melinda L. Wentzel

It is the thick of October, and few things thrill my brood more than hauling Halloween decorations from the bowels of our pitifully disordered and crammed-to-capacity sort of attic. Since my husband is frequently nominated to perform such an arduous duty (along with untangling Christmas lights and unstopping an abomination of drains in this household), he, of course, is revered above all others who reside here. And rightly so. Lord knows I want nothing to do with tasks that involve tangled masses of holiday cheer, clumps of repulsiveness and/or rummaging around in the aforementioned Shrine to Hoarders.

Needless to say, what began as a meager supply of seasonal wares so many years ago has grown to an embarrassment of Halloween hokum that literally spills from the largish cardboard boxes we designated for such a purpose. Translation: In the past 22 years I have amassed sinful quantities of Halloween-ish paraphernalia to include a trash-talking tree face, a disturbing number of Dracula-inspired fangs and a life-sized vampire bat that may well be tethered to our ceiling forevermore. Indeed, it is entirely likely that I have a weakness for schlock that bleeds orange and black.

So perhaps it is no surprise that my children drop everything the very instant said boxes come into view, the lure of all-that-is-ghoulish-and-ghastly proving far too powerful to resist. At once their eyes widen and their jaws fall slack as they paw with glee through our behemoth-sized hodgepodge of Halloween whateverness. In a word, the celebrated event is intoxicating for all those concerned. Naturally, there is no rest until the boxes are completely emptied and each and every item has found its rightful place in the Universe.

More specifically, there are ceramic wonders (i.e., beloved bequeathments from Grandma) that must sit high atop cabinets, overlooking everything and everyone … so as to avoid contact with less-than-specific elbows and whatnot. Likewise, there are fiendish creatures, rubbery rats and hideous-looking hairy spiders that need to be placed beyond the ever-widening sphere of a certain chew-happy dog. Further, the vast array of skeletons, ghosts and witches on broomsticks must dangle perilously from chandeliers, window ledges and other lofty places because “…that’s where they belong, Mom. Plus they’ll really creep people out.” Heaven forbid I move something (or purge something … GASP!) without first consulting the powers that be.

Moreover, the cache of crafts I’ve collected since any one of my progenies could wield a pumpkin-colored crayon and a pair of safety scissors has exceeded the bounds of reasonableness and is fast approaching critical mass. That said, the much-adored construction paper masterpieces (some of which are exceedingly dilapidated and very nearly devoid of any discernible pigmentation) are slowly but surely eroding my faith in the notion that I will ever have dominion over my attic … or any other aspect of my life for that matter.

But beyond the frustrating (yet decidedly priceless) decor that no one can bear to part with are the Halloween costumes from years past … the ones that no longer fit anyone especially well … the ones the kids insisted I take to the seamstress to be repaired, “…just in case I shrink, Mom,” the ones haphazardly piled upon the floor of someone’s closet following the latest make-believe session involving a witch’s hat, a gorilla suit and a pair of ninja swords. You know the ones.

And let us not forget the Halloween cutouts from the Leave It to Beaver era (read: the wholly irreplaceable cardboard remnants of my husband’s childhood, upon which the vestiges of yellowed tape still remain). The ones I’ve been patching up with voluminous quantities of not-so-yellowed tape for the past eight or nine Octobers. The ones that fall to the floor roughly 30 or 40 times a day simply because the stock is too heavy.

“Mom, the big, black cat on the cellar door fell down again. Can you fix it? Oh, and you made the skeleton dude’s knee bend the wrong way. Can you fix that, too?” Yes, of course, dear … with about four rolls of tape and enough patience for six people.

Granted, they are part of the family now. The big, black cat and the skeleton dude. It’s likely the stupid things will be helping us celebrate Halloween a decade from now … when my charges come home from college to do their laundry for the first time all semester. Hopefully by then I will have discovered a better solution to the inferior tape dilemma I now endure.

Either way, I’m guessing I’ll reminisce about the kids’ exuberance upon hauling the infamous cardboard boxes out of the attic … and of the Halloween hokum contained within.

Odds are, it’ll all be there … even still.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (dreaming of candy corn chocolate). Visit me there at

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel


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