Friday, August 1, 2014

Have You Seen My Ghost?

When I was a child Halloween was a special day. Mom would always fix up a big pot of chili. Before we put our costumes on and knocked on doors the ritual started with a big bowl of that chili to keep us warm. We ran the surrounding blocks in homemade costumes collecting plastic bags full of goodies. When I became a mother I began my own traditions. It always started with that same bowl of something to keep my girls warm. We would walk around the neighborhood and I would stand back and watch them waddle up the sidewalk with a plastic pumpkin in tow. They were very independent and had to walk that long cement row on their own, as long as mom wasn't far behind in the shadows. Those are not too distant memories. Now I am in phase III of my Halloween observance. I am a grandmother standing on the inside admiring the young trick or treating beginners.

Halloween in our neighborhood is always festive. The coming fall, cooler weather and vibrant colors fill the air. The streets are lined with houses lit black and orange and purple. It is mid September and the ghoulish decorations are already hitting front lawns. I'll admit I caught the spirit early on. I probably go a little overboard every year sprucing up my own lawn. Boxes of skeleton heads and spider webs line the attic. We have our favorite decorations, but one is especially intriguing.

Hanging among the witch and the mummy is a sheer white floating ghost head. You may have seen one. The ghost hangs from a black pipe with thin plastic threads. Batteries are used to pull the ghost head up and down the hanging strings. The batteries are motion and noise activated. When a child rings the doorbell, or knocks on the door, the ghost drops from its black pipe with ghostly sounds. It slowly floats back up to the pipe until it rests. It's a festive piece of art you either learn to laugh at, or dart away from.

Our neighborhood is bordered by two major thoroughfares lined with multifamily housing. Every year on October 31st the residents of these complexes will flow into our neighborhood. They are of all ages, each with their own different costumes. Some have no costumes at all. I buy bags and bags of candy. I hang my decorations weeks before. My ghost is displayed proudly in the entry hall. When the door opens to the festive guests the ghost is activated and floats down. It can be heard before it is seen. Some are awed by the unexpected site. Others are frightened by the startling scare, especially the youngest goblins. I give the visitors an opportunity to view the gimmick up close. I will walk to the end of the sidewalk to hand sweets to any who are too frightened by the ghost to approach on their own.

My porch becomes packed with witches, supermen and Darth Vaders. My husband will stand in the shadows and clap his hands to keep the ghost activated. I was passing out tootsie rolls to a large crowd and noticed a young girl standing at the end of the sidewalk. The little princess looked to be around four years old. She looked dazed and a little frightened. I walked toward her with my candy bowl reassuring her that the ghost would not hurt her. Her mom was standing next to her. Sleeping Beauty was looking past me straight into my house. I don't think she even knew I was walking toward her as her mom smiled at me. She walked right by me into the entry way staring up at the ghost. Her smile reached every corner of my heart as she admired my favorite trimming. Candy was placed in her bag as she turned to leave. She exited as quickly as she entered. My husband and I had a good laugh. Every time I see my favorite Halloween decoration I remember that little Sleeping Beauty so fascinated by the spook she almost forgot her candy. I wish I had my camera!

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