There was a time in my parenting history when I was my happiest when thinking of Halloween ideas. When my kids were little, Halloween was just emerging as the holiday extravaganza that it’s become. We’d walk into Walmart at around Aug. 1 and one look at the sea of black, orange, lime green and purple would set me off on a Halloween frenzy. Finally, we could have fun with things that kill people and their dead.
I don’t know what it is about Halloween, but maybe it’s that unlike Christmas and Easter, Halloween is all fun. There’s no uncertainty over how balanced you are or whether you’re cheapening the holiday or whether someone might be offended by the way you phrase your greeting. It’s all just fun. Unless you’re a paranoid schizophrenic and you think Halloween is an anti-Christian festival of worshiping Satan. But you’re not, so... yeah. All fun.
Pee Wee Herman recently posted on Facebook a cute idea for making chocolate chip cookies that look like spiders have been baked into them. My first thought was, Shoot. I don’t have anyone to make these for. My kids have no interest in pretending that they’re eating spiders. But that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
I don’t know how spiders got roped into being a Halloween thing. Sure, they give you the creeps, but so do lizards and you don’t see recipes for baked lizard cookies in October, do you? When spiders were allowed in to the Halloween list of things, they brought spider webs with them, so let’s talk about those fake spider webs, shall we?
We turned our basement into a haunted house one year and I spent a solid week cleaning, decorating and setting it up. I didn’t find it at all ironic that I was clearing out real spider webs and spiders only to cover that same corner with fake spider webs and fake spiders. Hey spiders, build your real home someplace else. I need this spot for these decoys. Just for this month.
My husband forbade me to decorate the outside of the house for Halloween. I barely got permission to put outdoor decorations for Christmas, and even then I had to do them myself. But Halloween decorations? Forget it. One year I refused to follow his No Fake Spider Webs on My Bushes rule and bought some fake spider webs and stretched them across the shrubbery in front of the house. What a mistake. No matter how I stretched and pulled them, they refused to look like a spider web. The concept is to make your house look like it’s been invaded by giant spiders. Mine looked like the giant spiders were on PCP. There was no going back, though. When I tried to pull them off to start again, they weren’t going anywhere.
“They’ll come off,” I told my husband when he got home and saw that I had broken the law. That was a lie and it got worse when - that’s right - it rained. And then it snowed. Unlike its twin cotton candy, fake spider webs don't melt in the rain and they don't freeze well. I’m sure the owners of that house are still picking off pieces of fake spider web.
For Halloween fun, I have also:
- Made a life-size skeleton out of 35 plastic milk jugs and string
- Mixed up a witch’s brew in a black cauldron with dry ice and floating ice cubes in the shapes of human cadaver parts
- And speaking of spiders, I made a ginormous one out of black lawn-and-leaf bags and hung it from my kitchen ceiling.
- Filled clear plastic lunch-lady gloves with popcorn, candy corn fingernails and a plastic spider ring (again with the spiders)
- Nearly drowned demonstrating to some neighborhood kids how to bob for apples
- Explained the Holy Trinity using a jack-o-lantern for my Catholic religious ed class. It was Attempt #367 in explaining how God can be three things and one thing all at once. The lesson was not pre-approved by the Diocese, but it did strike a chord with my third-graders. Mostly because at the end of the lesson, we ate candy.
About a month ago, I found a tiny black spider on the stairs.
“It’s not real,” my son said.
“Of course it’s real,” I said. “I don’t have fake spiders anymore.”
Then I picked it up (I know - I’m so brave!) and saw that it was a piece of spider confetti that I have in a Halloween bin in my storage room. I’ve had this confetti since I lived in Illinois and I haven’t used the spider confetti since the diaper days (not adult diapers, you twit, my youngest child diapers). I have no idea how one piece of spider confetti got out of that bin and up one-and-a-half flights of stairs.
Do you think my Halloween decorations are beginning to assert themselves? They sent Confetti Spider up to scout it out. Next I’ll find a random orange lightbulb in the bedroom, and the candy corn candles (candy corndles) in the kitchen. By Halloween 2014 I’ll be baking Pee Wee’s spider cookies and posting my Q-Tip skeletons on Pinterest.