I’ll give you a hint – it starts with a ‘D’

When I was growing up, my mom was a busy woman. (She still is in fact!) With four kids, a husband that traveled frequently and a full time job working at my father’s office, I never saw her sit down to relax except for a rare cup of tea.

She was a flurry of productivity. She whipped a room into order so fast I stood stunned watching my toys and clothes find homes I never knew they had. She cooked every meal, canned fruit and made all the jam our large household consumed. She helped us with our homework, sat next to us on the piano bench demonstrating what the song was supposed to sound like, and drove us to every doctor’s appointment we had. She even taught our dog to heel. This woman was busy.

But a couple times a year, when the season and children insisted, our house transformed. I remember coming home from school, and mom would be there with boxes out and decorations going up. She still moved at an effective speed, but there was a calmness about it that settled me and made the moments rich.

Halloween DecorationsI remember carving pumpkins and hanging Kleenex ghosts around my room and a bright orange cardboard cat on our wall.

Okay, our Halloween decorations could not compete with the Christmas decorations she would soon drag out of the basement. But they made me shiver with expectation just the same.

Halloween CostumesThe handmade costumes, that my mom had made for our older brother and sister before we were born, were eventually passed down to Susan and me. We each had a chance to be the floppy-eared bunny, the pointy-hat witch and the ruffled-collared clown. They were such intricately sewn costumes – I must remember to ask mom if she kept them.

So this year when my son begged to decorate for Halloween, I conceded. In his short life, I have skipped the Halloween decorations, trying hard to minimize the event and going for harvest decorations instead. But as he pleaded for ghosts and spider webs, I began to remember the ghosts and spider webs from my childhood.

My parents were Christians, but still allowed us to participate in Halloween activities. And as a child I didn’t know anything about the evil part of it. I just loved the imagination of it all – makeup, costumes, and decorations – not to mention the grand finale of sorting our candy and gathering together in the backyard for fireworks.

So, I decided, it was Jackson’s turn.

Jackson was jumping with excitement as we headed to the dollar store to load up on decorations. (I don’t think I have ever seen a child so thrilled to own plastic spiders and gauzy webs. What had I done depriving him this long!?!)

When we got home, my husband was in a hurry to get to his hockey game and I found myself with bags of décor and my squirmy seventeen-month-old niece Julia who was not going to be easy to manage while I dangled from a ladder.

“Just do it tomorrow,” my husband insisted, but I would not disappoint my son. I remembered having my mom putter about, her to-do list forgotten for the afternoon, as she focused on decorating. I was determined to do the same for my son. “No – it is ok. I can manage it,” I was not wavering. “But what should I do with Julia? And how do these spider webs work anyway?” I wondered to myself.

Halloween DecorationsI grabbed the phone and called my mom – perhaps the magic still works! I pleaded, as only a child can, and persuaded her to leave her office at Susan’s house and run over to our house and help me with Julia. I also spotted my favorite neighbor (a grade school teacher – I bet she has a lot of experience with fake spider webs!) and asked if she wanted to come over and help.

The afternoon gently turned into evening as we laughed and visited, our frozen fingers transforming our front porch and yard into Jackson’s first Halloween house. It was just as it should be, relaxed and fun, with Jackson thrilled to be in the middle of it all. And the spider webs looked alright if I do say so myself.

Halloween Decorations Halloween Decorations

That night as I tucked Jackson into bed I remarked about what a busy, wonderful day it had been. He broke into a huge grin, complete with twinkling eyes, and said, “You know what my favorite part was? I’ll give you a hint – it starts with a ‘D’ – decorating!!!”


  1. says

    Loved the story of your childhood and the rest of course too. Here we never celebrated Haloween, didn’t even hear about this a few years ago. But now it’s coming over every year a little more. In UK and Ireland it’s celebrated to and I have been told that irish immigrants brought this use to America.

  2. says

    I understand trying to keep the focus on fall and harvest. I always did that myself with my boys. My mother passed away in February and as I was going through her things I found Halloween decorations, she liked to decorate for all holidays. My boys were delighted this year when we pulled out my mom’s stuff. We didn’t go all out and do the front yard, maybe next year. I think they would enjoy it.

  3. says

    This turned into such an awesome day. I love when doing something you are not looking forward turns into something you never would of missed if only you’d of know.

  4. says

    i am having problems posting a comment on your site via my computer (I’m at my moms right now)
    i wonder why?????

    anyway – i wanted to say that i loved your post.
    TIME is the most wonderful gift we can give our children so as they say “down under” – “good on ya”.


  5. says

    You know, I never take the time to properly celebrate holidays, by decorating. You and Chilihead are motivating me to make this a priority. This weekend, we’re going to get into the spirit. My kids will LOVE it!

    Thanks for the motivation;)

  6. says

    Even though we don’t celebrate Halloween, I think it’s great to know that others who do are making Halloween about family & memories, not witches & devils. I have memories of Halloween as “Davey Family Fun Night.” Instead of staying home and doling out candy (and getting jealous), Mom & Dad would take us somewhere for fun. Usually the YMCA, where we rented a big bag of equipment and made up our own games in the raquetball rooms, or had the pool entirely to ourselves!

    That’s what every holiday should be about…family. Kudos to you for making your son’s day, and living up to your word for him. :o)

  7. says

    I really enjoyed reading about your childhood. I grew up with Halloween and my kids have to. We are Christians and it’s just a fun holiday. I do decorate some and love the colors. At first I, like you, tried to get away with just autumn decorations. I do put up some halloween specific stuff now. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, as I keep it happy and upbeat.

    Happy Halloween, Betty :)
    Blogging Chick

  8. says

    Halloween starts on October 2 at my house – my children are so excited to bring out the decorations. The only reason we don’t start decorating on the 1st is because its my daughter’s birthday. (of course – I don’t think it matters what holiday it is – my children just love to decorate!).

    And I don’t think there is anything wrong with it either – its all about having fun and being imaginative.

  9. says

    You sound much like me, in that Halloween has never been a holiday we “played up” with our children. I guess because so much HAS changed since we were children…then, it was imagination at its best, and “scary” costumes really weren’t so scary after all, even witches & ghosts and vampires. That was before all the Halloween & Freddy & Jason & Saw movies, you know? Witches like Samantha & ghosts like Casper were in a different league. It’s not that we downplay Halloween b/c it’s morbid or macabre or pagan or anything like that, when we moved here three years ago, the kids didn’t really wanna go trick or treating in our neighborhood (we didn’t know people yet) so we had a fun family night out. THAT has become our tradition, so tomorrow we’re headed out for dinner and then a movie :). Then again, my kids are older, so we’d be phasing it out even if we hadn’t moved.

    It’s been too long since I’ve really read you, definitely my loss :). This post was precious, and Jackson sounds like a doll. (I was waiting for my blog to be redesigned before I submitted it here, and that was months in the making.)

    Thanks for sending this in for the BC Carnival!

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing the story with us. It always seems to me that it is those special moments from childhood, like holiday traditions and spending time as a family that make the best memories as we grow older.

    Here via the carnival of family life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *