Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Thoughts

 Tonight, Ghost and What a Witch share their thoughts on what it means now that the Halloween season has come and gone. What does it mean now that Halloween is over? When do the decorations come down-- and how far into November does All Hallow's Eve stop? 

Ghosts and Monsters on Your Street

     A sadness comes over me every first week of November when It’s time to put away the Halloween decorations. To me, it means the end of harvest season, the passing of my favorite holiday, the demise of all the brilliant reds, yellows, browns and greens I get accustomed to seeing this time of year, and the end of the oddly comforting smells of leaves piling on the ground. Next comes the bitter cold, the mounds of snow, the leafless trees and neighbors and friends retreating to their warm houses, going into semi hibernation. Each year I find that I am never quite ready to let go of this season of abundance. I’m never ready to replace my lovingly carved pumpkins with portly, smiling Santas. I forever resist the transition from summer to winter.

     What A Witch’s house is not elaborately decorated. I favor more natural elements like scattered pumpkins, colorful mums, rustic scarecrows and a sole ghost hanging from my Japanese maple tree. Inside I display some spooky skulls, vases and modern fall d├ęcor. Yet I admire and envy those who go to the extreme to celebrate the season.

     So many houses I see these days have festive, funny or scary displays. The house across the street from me had a bit of everything; pumpkins galore, spooky ghosts, a life sized Bride of Frankenstein, as well as comical giant spiders. I have also seen those who have set up entire haunted houses in their garages or yard tents, complete with spooky music and lights, ghosts zombies and skeletons! I appreciate the neighborhoods where residents compete for the spookiest holiday decorations.  For some people when it comes to Halloween decorating…more…is more!

     It is the one time of year that it becomes normal to look abnormal and to really use the imagination. With each yard display I am taken back to my childhood: happy memories of trick or treating, retreating to my father’s protective arms when a neighbor in costume jumped from a tree or popped out at me from a hedge….of the terror of running up a sidewalk of animated skeletons to get to the giant bowl of candy at the end, of the awe of the sights and sounds.  

     According to a recently released study from the International Council of Shopping Centers, nearly three-quarters of U.S. households had planned to spend money on Halloween related items this past October. Of these families, the total for Halloween spending was expected to be around $11.3 billion this year. I hope this means that with each year…more people are getting the Halloween decorating bug. I hope that it is infectious enough that people will put up their displays earlier each year and leave them lingering just a bit longer for those of us who dread the passing of the season.

     Until then…I have resolved to do more. Next year I will think bigger, scarier…more…..let the planning begin.

-What A Witch

 Looking for the Ghost 

     Every November I give up. Let go. The days leading up to All Hallow’s Eve are always bursting and speeding; falling like leaves to the ground. I do so much for the day; the day comes. And then it is gone.

      The Ghost has no time when he plans to take down his decorations. The haunted house he lives in doesn’t lose Halloween completely at any time throughout the year—witches, Dia de los Muertoes skulls and similar oddities live on my desk and in my study twelve months’ round. The majority of the decorations I do put out eventually creep back to boxes, carefully numbered and with best attempts at taking an inventory. But that is not for a few weeks. The pumpkins and small gourds uncarved remain for the November holiday. That day when the last of the harvest meals happens comes, and goes. When the Ghost is ready, he pulls the cobwebs from the bushes, the shining orange lights from around the door. The tombstones come down from the yard, and it is like the ground never opened up for one night and let the souls of the departed, the eerie, the weird and the fascinating strange walk the earth.

       Always, this comes with a sadness. A fast relief fades to disappointment. This year I packed in so much—from the rows of the pumpkin patch, to the halls of the haunted houses, to cookie baking and pumpkin carving and costume donning—but you always want more of the orange pumpkin glow. The panic that set in when you think you didn’t think you would finish in time, or have enough candy or hanging ghosts to live in the imaginations of your neighborhood’s children—that is gone. And in that moment there is relief. But your season has gone, and it is sad, and soon the life that is Halloween—the screaming scary brilliant colored abundance of the harvest and the holiday-- will fade into the dark. The snow, the earth cold, covered and gone. The seeds do not bloom and the dead stay buried underneath us.

      Which is why I keep this blog. To keep that spark of the jack o’lantern lighting the night throughout the year. Some of us, the haunted hearts of the world—the ghosts and the witches—see in the darkness and appreciate that what comes to life on Halloween; in March, in June, in December. Soon, I will throw out the last of my carved pumpkins, the saddest sound as they hit and break, with their collapsed face, the bottom of the trash bin. Soon, there may be bells jingling from these haunted halls. But for the some of us, the lucky few, we will always have the season’s ghost.


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