Halloween at the Murphy's

May 7, 2010 7:13:19 AM PDT
First of all, I have to tell you that roughly ninety-five percent of the conceptualization, planning, design, and actual implementation of holiday decorating plans around our house is the province of my wife. She felt early on that making holiday memories for our kids was of paramount importance, and that it was not something to be done half-heartedly. As a result, there is rarely a day in our home where something isn't being recognized, memorialized, commemorated or celebrated. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Bastille Day, National Squirrel Appreciation Day? well, okay, those last two are tiny exaggerations. But you get the picture. Our attic is filled with big plastic tubs, each loaded with their own special collection of wall-mountable paraphernalia that makes an appearance on the lower floors with regularity.

I actually have to give my wife credit. I'm more of a "ignore the job until I absolutely have to face it" kind of guy, and if it was up to me, I'd probably get around to taping a fold-out, cartoon ghost to the wall of the foyer around, say, October 30th. And as a result, my kids would invariably spend each year growing more and more resentful, become total failures in life, and eventually going on Oprah to blame me for all their problems. As it is, my kids count their blessings each day, glad that they have such a super Dad! Again, that's the wife's doing.

But here's the interesting thing. When all is said and done, I LOVE our household holiday traditions as much as the kids. The house always has a fun feeling to it. Probably the most purely "fun" decorating involves Halloween, because it's so bizarre dotting the downstairs with spiders and webs and pumpkins, and it's great fun letting the neighborhood in to see the finished product on Halloween night. My favorite line when the kids come calling is, "Sorry about the bug problem. We forgot to call the exterminator!" And then, they all look up into this tall foyer, and hanging above their heads is a labyrinth of fake webbing, usually loaded with little plastic spiders. Before my older son headed off to college, he had taken over the decorating duty, and really raised it to an art form. One year, he had several of the spiders hanging down from the higher web on thin strands, so that they dangled inches above the kids' heads. This year, my younger son has pledged to keep up the tradition.

There were a few years when, because of our busy lives, we didn't get to this, but many years we did, and those were the best Halloweens. And to those of you who think I'm just a terrible person to let my wife and sons do most of this planning and decorating, don't worry. After Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is rushing to replace it, I get to do another holiday job that is all my own, employing a special skill set, apparently, because the rest of the family rarely interferes.

I get to take it all down.