Editor’s note: Jean recollects a column from October 2015 which reveals her annual fall decor:
So, I admit it—I’m a full-on, whole-hearted lover of autumn.
And ever since dear autumn showed up last month, I’ve been contemplating and ruminating on all things fall.
For example, I managed to find not one, but two boxes of autumn-themed decorations and haul them to the house. Everything from brightly colored silk leaves to pumpkins galore, from scarecrows and crows to, well, more pumpkins.
(I think I must clarify one statement here: One of those boxes also contains several items dedicated to spring and Easter. It’s a 50-50 split of inventory in that box, so in the fall, it’s a fall box and in the spring, it’s a spring box. It’s a little schizophrenic.)
Most of what I have collected over the years revolves around Halloween and more generalized fall décor. Think jack-o’-lantern and you could possibly get the idea of what my tubs o’ fun contain.
My punkins (and you Southerners will recognize that word easily) are beaded, stained, painted or just plain members of the gourd family. None of them, however, have a scary visage. No screamers or threatening looks on my pumpkins. Goofy or funny or just plain nice, those are the pumpkins for me.
I also have a collection of little items proudly brought home
by my daughter, Maggie. School art projects around this time of year naturally include Halloween pieces, including paper mache masks, coloring pages of pumpkins, scarecrows and black cats, and other whatnots and geegaws little hands strain and work over with pride. I have everything Maggie brought home all those years ago. I wouldn’t trade a single one of them for cold, hard cash. I’m hoping to begin adding things my grandson, Oliver, will create in the coming years.
There’s a few little things from her childhood which didn’t come from school. I found a set of window clings she and I colored together. There was a window covering which, when lit from behind, looks like a ghostly shadow. They don’t necessarily have the same sentimental value to me, but I keep them all the same.
In looking over the collection, there’s not a scary thing anywhere to be found. While Halloween is primarily dedicated to the idea of fright and fear, I choose to embrace alter-egos on the lighter, brighter side. I’d much rather see a 6-year-old whale shark, accompanied by a happy pirate and a giggling wench, ringing my doorbell for candy than I would a character from any horror movie. Even a smiling vampire could get a few extra goodies than a zombie in full costume.
I don’t do scary. The scariest movie I’ll watch is the Spencer Tracy version of ”Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” There are others of this ilk: I tend to watch the old movies in which the special effects are not the star of the film and they are still raw and underdeveloped enough to allow anyone watching to see the zipper in the back of the monster’s costume. There’s also a veil of discretion in these old flicks because the viewer is not visually assaulted with the scenes of blood and gore too common in contemporary films.
Halloween, to me, should be a chance to be someone else but only if that someone else is not some nightmare or monster of terror.
Not to be overshadowed by Halloween, I have some items specifically for display around Thanksgiving. There’s a cornucopia, a turkey basket, squirrel nut bowls and votive holders and more. Of course, there is the pilgrim representatives brought home from school, along with a delightfully stuffed paper bag turkey.
I haven’t gone through the boxes just yet, though I will have to soon—I have to find some pumpkin patterns I’ve had for close to 20 years. I’ll also have to buy some nice-sized pumpkins so I can use the patterns to carve out a black cat, an upside-down witch … maybe a bat in silhouette on the moon. Of course, I have to make a special one for Oliver’s first Halloween. Maybe that one will be just a smiling jack-o’-lantern.
Who knows, I may get garbed up in costume this year.
Nah. I’m scary enough the rest of the year. One night won’t make that much difference.
-Jean Henderson is a columnist for the Citizen Tribune.