This is my favorite time of year! Ask my kids and they'll tell you there is nothing like Halloween at my house. Initially, my intentions weren't pure but rather those of a desperate single mom attempting to keep her five rambunctious kids off the street. It worked, actually. Our yard became a giant cemetery with something created (by hand of course - another day designated to keep those kids busy and out of trouble) each year - a "new addition", so-to-speak. Glow-in-the-dark tombstones, red satin lined coffin and gum eyeballs made quite the impression on the neighbors. I was impressed myself with it all until one year we went a little over-the-top, I guess. Speakers for the sound system were wired on top of the roof (surround sound screams were amazing), a bonfire in the middle of the driveway in a very urban neighborhood broke all the "rules" and a 7-foot tall grim reaper wandering the grounds was definitely the "creme de la creme" that year. No one came. Yup, too scary. Dutiful parents rushed their trick-or-treaters past our driveway to the next house while I sat despondently holding all of those eyeballs.
So, the next year we turned our skeletons into pirates. I don't know what became of the satin-lined coffin but it was gone. Everything else morphed into an 18th Century Caribbean artifact. The timing worked well for my book's promotion too. Plus, my kids stayed home. I'd hit the trifecta!
Pirates stormed my yard to include a 17 foot ship (thanks to Brett, Mike and Danny...and Home Depot), two fog machines, a treasure chest and those amazing eyeballs. Life was good and we had scores of trick-or-treaters once again. Even the media showed up to film the merriment. Huzzah! I was in my Halloween Heaven.
This year as I pull out the Halloween bins and prepare to set up the grotto, there are no kids to boss me around, set up the ship and re-dress the skeletons. I'm sailing solo on this Halloween stuff and doing my best to keep dry eyes as I decorate this house with memorabilia from days long ago with five kids and a night of threatened trouble. I think I've done okay this year. The treasure glints from underneath the lanterns while empty sockets grin under tricorn hats and cutlasses. Below the balcony, I hear gasps from kids as they pass, taking in the detail of an 18th Century grotto. The effect is the same as it was years ago and I smile inside remembering happy times with my rambunctious five. I'm sure Rich, Jeff, Brett, Rachel and Brooke will be celebrating in their own tradition, hopefully a pirate will be amongst their decor in honor of their mother. But whatever happens, kids are the same this year as in the past - pounding the pavement dressed up on the one legal night to pretend, collecting candy and looking for that scariest costume or house - perhaps even a pirate grotto that hands out those amazing eyeballs! I'll be waiting.....