Boo! Are you scared?
I don't like scary things.
I don't want to freak out the neighbors with graveyard scenarios or dancing skeletons on my front yard.
And I most definitely don't want to frighten any sensitive little trick-or-treaters who wander up my sidewalk come Halloween night.
But at the same time, I love the delicious excitement of being a kid out on a dark and snappy fall night with a bit of magic in the air,
roaming my suddenly unfamiliar neighborhood with a pack of friends,
daring myself to ring doorbells and stand on doorsteps that I wouldn't dream of otherwise approaching, hoping against ridiculous hope that the adults inside will give me candy.
So even though I'll skip the cackling witch's laughter and screams in the night, I do my best to play my part in this annual pageant by treading the fine line between the truly scary and a sweetly spooky night.
And the key element in my sweetly spooky arsenal is the tiny ghost.
My porch ghosties are spotlighted by green bulbs in the porch lights.
Trust me, the effect is much more impactful after dark.
I've leaned into this motif for decades, though in years past, I've relied on the tried and true Kleenex ghost which I learned how to make from my friend, Marilyn, when I was maybe five years old.
You know the drill - wad one Kleenex up in a ball and put it in the center of a second Kleenex. Fold the second one around the first one, and tie it into place with a bit of thread. Voila! It's a ghost.
My daughters make the egg carton and pipe cleaner spiders back in Girl Scout days; my fourth-born created an oversize web for them to perch upon.
Suspended in groups of ten or twelve, these lil apparitions have welcomed a full generation of trick or treaters to my Halloween doorstep.
They have served me well. But I must admit that they don't keep well from year to year, and many a Halloween afternoon has found me tearing through a half a box of tissues and tying myself in knots as I rush to decorate my porch before darkness falls.
Ghosties in the garden? Yes, please.
So this year, I finally upped my game by creating a flock of semi-permanent and water-resistant phantoms. Made from yarn and suspended by wires, my collection of specters has now expanded to the yard, where my visitors can enjoy several pops of sweet spookiness as they come to collect their Kit Kats and Snickers bars at my door.
We managed to carve the pumpkins before dark, but just barely.
Oh, I'm not fooling myself.
I'm quite sure that there are plenty of kids who can handle a lot more scariness, those for whom Michael Jackson's Thriller video and Cruella de Ville are nothing but a walk in the park. And I'm sure my ghosties come off as nursery school decor for many of them.
But I have yet heard one to complain.
Most of my store-bought Halloween decor has hit the highway, but we are very partial to black cats so this one lives as an homage to our sweet Halloween kittens: Blackberry, Padfoot, Luna, and Sirius.
No, it's for the more sensitive souls ones that I hang my little white wraiths.
The toddlers who look up at them in, well, maybe not horror, but at least a curious eye and a practiced notion that this little cloud of white fuzzy spirits is not at all normal.
The six-year-olds who carefully reach around the low-hanging goblins toward my candy bowl, pillowcases extended, trying not to let one of the ghosties actually brush up against them.
And the older kids, most often girls, who appreciate the haunted effect and take a moment amidst all the excitement to tell me so.
I ain't 'fraid of no ghost.
These are my people, my spooky season kindreds, and for them I will always keep Halloween sweet.
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Trick or treat! Can I offer you a few more stories about Halloween?