"Mom, I think on Friday after school we should decorate for Halloween!" Danny said with a smile and hid behind the couch.
"Perhaps we should wait, it's still September," I replied. He popped back up, looked at my unexcited face, rolled his eyes, and then slowly fell backward on the carpet in a dramatic display of desperation. A Method actor, all the way. I waited.
"Possibly, if you do your homework and practice piano first." I was trying to postpone Halloween decorating for as long as possible.
"Ok... But can me and Daddy go to that Halloween store next to Trader Joe's so Daddy can see it?" meaning: so I can check it all out and buy a splattered witch I want and you don't have to take me because I know you hate it.
"Maybe on the weekend."
"Ok!" and he happily ran off. I started to hope that perhaps he would forget his decorating plan come Friday, but deep down I knew it was an exercise in futility. Danny does not forget anything when it comes to something he wants. And he wants a Halloween-decorated house.
I don't like Halloween. I hate the black and orange color combination, I hate all the horror movies that fill the channels for the entire month of October, I hate the tasteless and obnoxious Party City costume commercials, I hate the odd chemical smells emanating from the so-called decor isles in stores, I hate the mountain of candy that's involved. Until recently, I successfully managed to avoid Halloween for years thanks to spending the evening in the company of Serbian friends that were celebrating a completely different holiday on the same day. That celebration involved cases of wine, table full of food, and a clear home "brew" that disinfected you from the inside out on the intake.
I even managed to be Halloween-free while Danny was little. I didn't buy him a costume or went trick-or-treating and avoided the whole topic in general. But then grandparents took over and supplied costumes and a trick-or-treating experience. I voiced my resistance but failed. Danny was getting into it. And then he went to school.
They do parades and parties and everyone dresses up. He had to wear a costume to school and parade in one long loop for all the parents to see and capture the entire event with their paparazzi length camera lenses. One year, he paraded outside in the cold in just his flimsy Superman shirt and no coat. The next year I ordered him a costume of his choice (spider) that was made out of fleece and stuffed with batting in case there is another outdoor parade. It even came with a hat which was of course too small for his head, but he put it on anyway. Thank God he decided to wear the same thing this year, a small victory for me because I didn't have to buy another costume. Pottery Barn Kids doesn't vary their choices from year to year, the only other option he would go for is a shark, but after that I will have to talk him into being and art student (old jeans, dirty sweatshirt, and bags under eyes from sleeping much less than any other major).
For a long time my decorations consisted of only a large ceramic pumpkin which was actually a soup tureen. I was extremely happy with my pumpkin, it was all the decor I needed. Then Master of the house unleashed his plan. "I wish we had some Halloween decorations," a little voice would say with a sigh passing through the kitchen. "Maybe we can get a pumpkin," I would reply after several rounds of deep sighing, just to make him stop. "Ok! And one more decoration!" He was doing math before he was doing math. I started looking for artful pumpkins that I could explain to myself as fall decor that would last me till Christmas, rather than Halloween decorations. The couple of times we got a live pumpkin and carved it I almost cut my hand, got sick to my stomach from all the squishy pumpkin guts, and the entire thing rotted in less than a week. The stinking moldy mess would end up in my garden as a hopeful fertilizer only to seed itself and overtake the entire space the next summer. The strawberry patch turned into a pumpkin patch and I had more orange balls than I could handle. And the one thing my backyard tenants would not eat is a pumpkin, they can't bite through it! What kind of rodent are you if you can't bite into a pumpkin?
I've attempted several times to avoid a costume party only to fail yet again. Once I was invited to a "dress as your favorite witch" bridal shower. After stating that the only thing I'm willing to wear is my tiara, a friend suggested that I should be Glinda and even provided me with a sparkly pink gown that her daughter wore to prom. I was very sparkly and very princessy, but could not get my skirt through the front door. Any door opening for that matter. And it took me 10 minutes to get in and out of the car and I needed lots of help. I think the fact that I am much shorter than the original owner of the dress might have had something to do it – I bustled the front which created extra volume and a large train. And I almost set myself on fire when I attempted to ascend our hostess's front porch stairs that she creatively lined with burning tea lights. I ended up squeezing myself into the side kitchen entrance to avoid the flames. Danny got to see me in my costume and was very confused. The next day he told everyone that I was so big I couldn't fit through the door.
I think a year after that Terry talked me into attending a Halloween party. He really built it up and we planned our couple costume. He went as Bob Ross (large curly hair including) and I was his Happy Cloud. Well, one can not buy a cloud costume. I had to make it. I roped another friend (thank God for wiling participants) into helping me and we spent the evening sawing clumps of pillow stuffing onto a white nightgown. We even made a rainbow headhand to top if off (which really looked like a rainbow tiara because let's face it: if I'm dressing up there better be a crown involved). The puffs started falling off as the night went on and when I got home I was a very deflated cloud. Danny scored a victory that year, he got to go to one of those pop-up Halloween stores with his dad in search of a curly hair wig. Also that year some very distinct Halloween items of orange and black color combination appeared in my house. I was slowly losing the battle. I attempted to lose some of those items after the "holiday" was over, but my packing was carefully supervised by Danny. I think he knew what I was up to.
This year I pinned Halloween decor to my Holidays board. I even found a Martha Stewart craft that Danny and I could do. As I was pinning it, I told myself that it was really to use those dead branches that are all over my yard from the neighbor's dying tree. And while I was downloading the template I was telling myself that it was to finally use all that black paper I had under my bed that I ordered for a project years ago and never used. Today I spent almost an hour contemplating a ceramic spooky tree decoration while browsing at Home Goods. What I really should have gotten was that horse head that caught my eye. I even bought Halloween kitchen towels to include in my package for my Russian friends. The spooky tree is now sitting in our family room. It's hand painted. I have a new pillow in the living room that says "Boo".
As I drove Danny home from school, he told me about the splattered witch that we could hang on our door because we don't have a wreath and witch's legs that one can stick into the ground. And I actually said yes to both.