Halloween challenges (28.10.2017)
Folks who know me generally know that I adore Halloween. My Scottish-born (and proudly Canadian) grandma would gleefully tell her grandkids that “it’s possible to trace its beginnings back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Samhuinn in Gaelic), held on 1 November, which marked the culmination of summer and the harvest period with the onset of winter. Robert Burns’ 1785 poem ‘Halloween’ details many of the national customs and legends surrounding the festival”.(1)
I love creating a spooky experience for kids (and parents!) who visit. In my view, it’s not a ‘successful’ Halloween unless at least a few of the kids are too scared to come trick-of-treat at our home without a parent – or someone else – holding their hand ,-)
If a wee one’s too scared to come to the door, I’ll go outside to bring them treats and give a quick guided tour of the fake creatures. I usually have a few silly-looking fabric snake toys (in neon colours, or with sparkles, for example), to give to any spooked kids ~ for being brave. I used to make them, but have resorted to buying silly snake toys; as I can’t use my little portable sewing machine properly these days, because of a rare neuro-inflammatory disease – called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – which affects my right (dominant) hand and arm.
There are a lot of Halloween decorations that I set up outside, and I decorate the inside of our home as well; so that when I open the door, trick-or-treaters can see a large spider web, with a (6′ leg span!) furry spider, on the stairs behind me. Last year, because of CRPS, I didn’t put up many of my Halloween decorations. And believe it or not, some of the neighborhood kids noticed – and asked me about the ‘missing’ decorations!
So this year, I was determined to put up all my regular Halloween decorations. Easier said than done! I had to put them up bit by bit, over the course of almost 2 weeks, because of the rare disease. This made it a bit challenging to plan the decorations all out, but I finally got it done in time for Halloween!
I’m very s-l-o-w-l-y realizing that having a neuro-inflammatory disease means that I can’t do anything quickly anymore. I’m a person who’s used to starting something, and then finishing it right away. But I can’t do that anymore. Whether it’s something as simple as writing a blog post, or making a recipe, or even getting dressed and putting on make-up, I have to do everything much more s-l-o-w-l-y than I used to. And usually in quite a lot of pain. And that’s very frustrating.
Back to Halloween… So, what kind of spooky decorations do I set up outside? Glad you asked! To start, a few different skeletons hang out (pun intended!) in the tree near the street; they’re light enough to move around in the wind, so are rather creepy. One of them’s a luminescent, glow-in-the-dark, skeleton.
As kids come up the drive, there’s a small ‘monster cemetery’ in the grass to their right, in which 1′ high vampire & werewolf heads – and hands – are sticking out of the ground. There are also some haunted house & danger signs, along with a few tombstones and skulls in the ‘monster cemetery’.
This area’s separated from the drive by an 18″ high plastic fence with a skull design, and some plastic chains with small skulls dangling off of them. The other side of the drive is home to a group of several 1′ round glowing eyeballs; these are electrical, with different pulsing red bloodshot designs on each eye.
Once a potential visitor has made it past these decorations, there are a few steps leading up to the front door. When the autumn chrysanthemums – in 2 large pots on the landing – die off in mid-October, I mix a few life-size skulls in with the dead flowers. These are easy to do, and especially spooky at night…
The steps themselves play host to (very realistic!) snakes, rats, and spiders. There are ghouls hanging from the handrails, floating creepily with the wind, and bats hanging from the outdoor lamps and mailbox. And then when I answer the door, I’m almost always wearing a scary costume; a witch, a person being attacked by spiders, etc.
Happy Halloween everyone! And keep the kids safe; go trick-or-treating with them, put reflective or luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) tape on their costumes, and have them carry flashlights. And always, always, always, be on the lookout for cars!!!
(1) Sarah Clark. Scottish Halloween traditions. Visit Scotland. 05 Oct 2015. Web: