I don’t like holidays; I just like writing about them. Carving pumpkins and making gingerbread men (or, heaven help us, gingerbread houses) have no appeal for me. I dread the thought of holiday preparations – the shopping, the anticipation, the work – that’s it – the work! I don’t want to do it, I just want to write about it.
“Just turn off your lights and don’t answer the door,” one friend advised. But we live in a neighborhood where everyone knows each other. It would be considered grossly antisocial to go dark on Halloween.
Last Halloween I put out a big bowl of candy with a sign that said “Help Yourself,” but someone absconded with the whole thing almost immediately. The trickster even took the bowl.
Back when we lived on a farm, I thought I was safe from trick-or-treaters. Then one Halloween night a little boy showed up unexpectedly from a house across the field. I had nothing to give him but a stale health-food “treat.” The poor little guy left looking very doleful under his vampire makeup.
I know, I sound horribly cranky. But I feel that I should contribute to the greater good according to my talents. I have no talent for answering the door and making small talk. I do have a talent for writing, especially writing about holidays. And, after I’ve finished the text, the illustrator crowns the story with deliciously detailed illustrations of holiday activities that would be hellish if I had to actually do any of them.
Recently, my daughter came home from college for fall break. While she was here she decorated the front porch with pots of bright yellow and orange mums and carved a big pumpkinfor the window. When I described these festive additions to my friend, Katie, she said, “Really? You have Halloween decorations? That doesn’t sound like you.”
It isn’t me. It also isn’t up to me. No matter what I do Halloween is growing closer, and the doorbell is going to ring. A lot.
The truth is that writing about the holidays has nothing to do with reality, and that’s the point. I’m good at writing; I’m just not good at reality.