Haunting Traditions

Halloween Decorations 2006

Halloween Decorations 2004

When the kids were little, I'd get a bit carried away on holidays. Some would say I still do...but really, this is very tame for me. I have orange icicle lights that, if hung, would outline the house in garish drips of flashing twinkle bulbs. The Dogwood tree, while strung with ghost lights, lacks the elan of the flashing skeletons...mainly because they're broken, again, and this time I'm not fixing them. The glowing, orange pumpkins are still in their box for the same reason.

There aren't as many little kids in the neighborhood...They're all teenagers now, with cars and lives. When the little guys come to the door now, I no longer look to see if I recognize them because I know I won't.

I probably won't dress up as Madame Rosa, the gypsy, either. The wig's hot and itchy. The multiple skirts and heavy makeup a pain...unless I'm doing the fortune telling booth at the elementary school carnival, which of course, I am not.

I've got mini-adults living in my house.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade them for the world...but they require different activities. I make Sunday dinners and listen to wild stories of their weekends...or life with their every-other-weekend dad. We laugh and carry on. They don't censor themselves here as much as they do with other adults and for that, I am very thankful. But we don't make costumes or worry about who'll hand out the candy and who will walk around the neighborhood with the kids.

It's different and yet, in some ways, the same.

The boys roll their eyes as the garish decorations emerge from the attic. They moan, "Mother! Really!" But let something go missing from the display and I hear "Where's the Frankenstein head?" "Don't we have a remote controlled rat somewhere?" Then, "Hey remember the year we hid in the bushes and scared little kids with the fog machine?" "What about the year we dressed in camo? " "Yeah, and you took all the republican campaign signs out of that one lady's yard!"

They are big on tradition, my boys are.

Birthdays must be celebrated in the dining room. The Birthday person's favorite meal must be prepared. Balloons blown up and tied to chair backs. Pictures taken, songs sung, presents only opened after dinner, after a long, agonizing day of waiting and pleading "Come on, just one! Let me open just one!"

On Christmas morning no one can come into the living room until they hear carols playing. Stockings are still hung across the mantle. Inflation mandates Santa now leave a quarter in the toe along with a juicy tangerine and tiny presents wrapped sloppily. Tree bread is served for breakfast. Dinner is served mid-afternoon.

My kids dutifully complain about the rituals, trying to act "beyond" all of this foolishness, too old to be treated like "babies"...But in their hearts they know what I do...Our traditions and silly little rituals are the ties that keep us close, set us apart from the anonymous others in the world and make us who we are...


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