Monthly Archives: November 2012

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas – all in one shot.

Now that it appears the Twinkie will get a bit of a reprieve (apparently, the judge ordered some sort of negotiation discussions between Hostess and the unions, so I believe Hostess may live another day), my sister is back to her Halloween/Christmas (and, yes, even Thanksgiving) struggle.

Last week, I asked Catherine (my incredible sister, to whom this whole blog is dedicated) to bring me a couple of photos of past Halloweens so I could incorporate them into my own creative, blog-making process. I wish all my readers could have been there when she brought the flash drive of photos from Halloweens past… It’s like being transplanted into another world. And to see her eyes light up as she describes every single photo… – words actually escape me…. (and, trust me, that’s a real rarity!)

After going through the whole lot of photos, one stood out as obvious. The photo below shows that the Christmas/Halloween (and now that I’ve seen it), even Thanksgiving, signal-crossing dilemma has plagued my  sister for – apparently – years now. Look at the photo closely.

Look again. One more time. What do you see? Yes, this is a little like the classic “Where’s Waldo” game. This is a picture from a few years back, and it is significant for several reasons.

First, the “mummy hag” in the middle bed is the very first Halloween prop Catherine ever bought. Ever. Amazing, actually; she’s the one who started it all!

Second, the whole scene is grotesque. This was set up as a “hospital room” in one of her haunted houses. Obviously, the patients didn’t fare too well here.

Most importantly, if you really look closely, you’ll see that the finials (the balls on the tops of each bedpost) are actually…. you guessed it….. Christmas decorations! Balls that actually hang from her tree as it stands in her house today (beautifully decorated for the office Christmas party for 150 people, which is 10 days from now!).  Not only that, if you really look carefully, you’ll see that the backdrop – the wine-colored curtains in the background – are actually the Christmas curtains that Catherine hangs is her house at Christmastime!

And the bedcovers that envelop the two corpses on the outer two beds are actually Thanksgiving tablecloths! Ha! I’ll bet that whenever the entire family was eating turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry dressing last week, they didn’t realize they were eating off the warming blankets of the dead from a few years ago!

So, there you have it. Halloween that incorporates Christmas, and even Thanksgiving of years past….. all in one shot. Hopefully, when the guests come to the Christmas party next Saturday, they won’t see the gore behind the “Christmas decorations.” And with Thanksgiving and the office Christmas party behind us next week, we can all focus on what’s truly important – Halloween 2013!

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Halloween vs. Hostess…. a new dilemma?

Okay… so it’s not exactly a dilemma. But as I was at my sister’s house last night (which is where I am at least 5 out of 7 nights (good thing my husband likes her!!) ), we were trying to get everything planned for the upcoming Christmas party for 150 people that takes place in three weeks. Oh… wait…! We were actually talking about the dinner party we’re having for the committee that her husband is on, which is tonight!! Dinner for 20 (and I’m doing all the cooking! We can discuss that in another blog.).

But I digress… even though we were talking about the dinner party that takes place tonight (geez.. I better get to working on the menu!!) and the Christmas party scheduled less than three weeks from now, we were actually really trying to figure out whether she should have a vortex tunnel or an elevator facade for the Halloween party, which is 11 months from now. That’s when my 20 year old daughter announced that Hostess went out of business! And that’s when it became clear to me – my sister’s true passion (even though I honestly thought it was Halloween) is actually Hostess products!

As well as I know my sister, I must admit… I was taken by surprise by the visceral reaction she had to the closing of Hostess. Shock… Dismay… Anger…. Sadness…. It was as if one of the pillars that holds up her world had just collapsed. She even sent my 20 year old (yes, the bearer of the bad news) to as many stores as she could find just to get the last of the Hostess. Apparently, though, she wasn’t the only one with such a reaction. The shelves were bare. The Hostess gone.

So rather than figuring out the vortex tunnel or the elevator shaft for Halloween, or the dinner menu for tonight’s party, or the Christmas party less than three weeks away, she came up with a contraption she calls the bottomless pit. She will glue the remaining Hostess products left in her house to the sides of the thing, then use mirrors and lights to create the illusion that, as she put it, “the Hostess products will go on forever to the center of the Earth.” Long live Hostess!

So Thanksgiving, Christmas, and yes, even Halloween will take a back seat to Hostess. At least for now. I will close this post with the poignant words my sister texted me last night as she drifted off to sleep….

“This will honestly affect me more than you know. Hostess was a big part of me…. one that’s still clinging to my ass!”

Halloween vs. Christmas – oh the dilemma!

I was out of town for the weekend and stopped by my sister’s house when I returned; the dilemma was immediately apparent. The first thing I saw (and trust me… I know… it’s not normal to find such things lying around on the kitchen counter) was a grotesque looking “baby.” 

I knew what the baby was for, of course. You see… this is how my sister, Catherine’s, brain works when it comes to Halloween – she spends hours and hours thinking, exploring, researching, poring over books, magazines, and internet sites until something grabs her attention (in this case, a disturbing looking baby).

Once she lands on a “subject,” she will then create a whole scene that is based on that initial piece that caught her eye and got her juices flowing. As I sit here today, I can’t even imagine what kind of Halloween scene will be created based on a baby (one that bears a strong resemblance to Jack Nicholson, Winston Churchill, and The Buddha all at once) that looks like it was just rescued from being buried alive. (Nor can I imagine what the whole idea says about Catherine in general, but that’s probably the subject of another blog altogether…) But trust me, it will be gruesome. Of that, I am certain.

Once I got a big laugh out of the repulsive baby on the kitchen counter (did I forget to mention that the baby actually pees??), I turned the corner. And that’s when I saw signs of the internal conflict my sister was facing. I saw that she had actually spent the weekend putting up thousands of Christmas lights (beautifully, I might add…). Here’s what I saw –

And that’s just the beginning! That yard and patio wrap all the way around her house; it must have taken her countless hours. So why would someone who’s so focused on, and obsessed with Halloween – so much so, that she’s already got Buddha/Nicholson/Churchill babies lying around – even spend one minute on Christmas decorations? Therein lies the dilemma….

Remember in my last post that I mentioned Catherine’s husband started a new business a couple of years ago….? Remember that Catherine graciously agreed to not do Halloween for a couple of years? (OK, well, she wasn’t exactly gracious about it….) The thing about running your own business is that sometimes it is necessary to have events like Christmas parties. So Catherine is hosting a Christmas party for 150 people in three weeks!

The next three weeks will be spent with Catherine climbing up and down that 14 foot ladder thousands of times – up to the attic for more lights, garland, ribbon, candles, etc., then perfect placement of everything (with the help of our mom, of course) up on shelves, nooks, fireplace mantles, and more ledges than one can count. All the while secretly making mental notes of where each skeleton, monster, bloody corpse, and spider web will hang in 11 months….

So while her heart and soul lie with the baby on the kitchen counter, Catherine is furiously decorating for Christmas – and, yes, she’s being gracious about it… this time.

It begins…

My sister is awesome! She’s smart, kind, hilarious, driven, kind (did I say that already…?), energetic (beyond belief!), enthusiastic, and passionate. Passionate about what, you might ask…. Is it her five  wonderful kids? Her fantastic husband? Having her medical degree? Her adorable dog, Cooper…? Well, while all of those things are important to her, her true passion is Halloween! (Ok, well that’s almost true… Her husband and family are the most important, but Halloween is a very close second!)

A little background – Catherine and I are five years apart in age. We have always been close; some say we are as close as twins. As kids, our parents had lots of parties. Mostly Christmas parties. Our mom is incredibly talented when it comes to decorating (among many other things). She pretty much went over the top with Christmas decorating and parties. Catherine followed in her footsteps and year after year outdid herself with Christmas decorating. Always fun. Always interesting, and always classy.

So you can imagine my surprise when she called me about five years ago to tell me she was forgoing Christmas for Halloween decorating. (I don’t even like  Halloween!) What?? I was dismayed, disappointed, and even a little concerned about her… what an odd switch!

You are all smart enough to figure out that if I’m sitting here blogging about it five years later, it must have been spectacular. Yes, it was truly spectacular! And has been ever since. She created a full-sized swamp full of creatures emerging through thick fog, 20 foot monsters that were extracting an elderly couple out of their car , animated props that pop out and grab passersby, a witches teaching a school full of young witch students, and the list goes on and on. So here I am – passionate enough about her Halloween passion to be capturing it all in this blog to share with the world.

I will take you on her Halloween journey for 2013 – yes, I know it’s only November 2012, but she has already started the creativity and planning process. I will share with you past Halloween feats and struggles. And you will see the whole process unfold before your eyes. It is an amazing process to see and I hope you enjoy the ride.

So here we are, the beginning of November (Halloween 2012 only 10 days behind us), and Catherine’s 2013 Halloween has already begun to take shape. (A bit more background for you… Catherine’s husband started his own business in late 2009, so he requested Catherine take a break from Halloween for awhile so she could help him with the business. She agreed, and didn’t do Halloween for 2 years. It nearly killed her!) So, now that 2013 is a go, she’s well into the planning stages. She has sketched out her entire house, yard, guest house, and garage to figure out the best places for oversized monsters, live actors to pop out and scare people, graveyards, alligators, hanging dummies, etc., etc.,

So how do I know it’s truly begun…? Last night after my husband and I were quietly tucked in bed, fast asleep, Catherine and my older daughters snuck into our garage. Here’s what my husband found as he climbed into his car this morning….

It begins….

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