Tag Archives: family

Long, Long, LONG Overdue.

Please feel free to visit my new blog!  The Spicy Apron

I can’t believe it has taken me longer to write this final post than it took Catherine to build a whole vortex tunnel from scratch! But here it is…. my final words about My Sister’s Halloween. It is with pride, admiration, relief, and a wee bit of sadness that I write this. It’s hard to believe that Catherine’s Halloween era has come to an end. But there’s something to be said for ending on such a high note…

What a HUGE success! More than 400 people showed up to be scared, horrified, awed, and impressed by Catherine’s talent, creativity, and countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears (and, yes, there were all of those – plus a massive head wound to top it all off!). In the end, it took a whole team of supporters to pull it off:

First and foremost… my sister’s devoted and dedicated husband. Not only did he put up with the chaos, mess, and disruption of turning his house into a haunted town and inn for nearly a year, he provided much manly-man strength and support across the board. And did it with a great attitude and smile on his face (most of the time…).

Our collective parents – this event never could have been pulled off without the love and support and contribution of all of our parents. It says a lot about Catherine to witness every one of the four parents involved rally and pitch in with anything and everything. The vortex tunnel never could have been made without our dad, who mistakenly thought his new-found retirement meant he would have the luxury of lots of leisure time…. wrong! The pirate ship would have looked like a cardboard backdrop without our incredibly talented mom, who can turn a piece of cloth and a few plastic gold pieces into a scene straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean. The clown tent never would have functioned properly the night of the event without the dedication and determination of Catherine’s wonderful father-in-law, and no one would have had the most spectacular desserts without the nicest woman ever… Catherine’s mother-in-law. These are only a small fraction of examples of the efforts put forth by all.

My fantastic husband – the event would have felt like a silent movie without my husband’s constant attention to ensure each scene had creepy, frightening, and haunting music playing at just the right intensity and location. The event took on a life of its own with all of the sounds and music of Halloween.

The local high school drama club – a special thanks to the incredibly talented and entertaining group who came as zombies, pirates, voodoo witches, creepy clowns, and all kinds of characters, who never broke character and provided incredible realism to the Macabre Inn and Haunted Meadows.

And to all the other helpers and supporters – this truly was a team effort and it would never have been the home run success it was without everyone’s contributions.

The best way to end this blog is with this link. It is a video that was shown to the guests as they entered the event – a spectacular compilation of the transformation of my sister’s house into My Sister’s Halloween. Please enjoy the video and the photos of the actual event.

http://haunted-meadows.tumblr.com/

Finally… to my incredible sister – you provide inspiration, excitement, and laughter to all those around you… especially to me! I am lucky to have you in my life.  You touch so many people in so many ways.  Thank you for everything you do and for being the person you are.

Catherine and Heather Halloween

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The Addams Family… Reincarnated?

I was doing a little reading up on The Addams Family – that iconic, bizarre television family from the 1960s (’cause I’ve got nothing better to do…), and I came across a source that called the Addams Family a “satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware that people find them bizarre or frightening.” And then it hit me… we must be distant relatives of the fictitious Addams Family (ignoring the “wealthy” part…)!

First televised in the 1960s (although it started as a cartoon in the the New Yorker in 1938), The Addams Family has had numerous iterations, including a live Broadway musical, and has struck a chord with much of the American population. Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the show is that, despite the gruesome, dark, bizarre likes and dislikes the family embraces, the family is a solid, tight-knit, caring, and generous one.

Much like the Addams Family, our family embraces Catherine’s Halloween creepiness with love and devotion. Our dad, for example has been working tirelessly on bringing Catherine’s Vortex tunnel dream to reality. I have no doubt that my father’s endless energy he has poured into helping her find the perfect rebar sizes, locating and ordering the requisite 28 foot 2x4s, and figuring out exactly how to make it easy for guests to enter and exit the spinning tunnel without creating a catastrophe isn’t necessarily because he’s fascinated with Vortex tunnels. It’s because he loves Catherine.Vortex

Likewise, our mom has spent countless hours helping my sister create the most realistic, incredible shipwrecked pirates scampering off the gangplank of a near-life-sized ship with their pirates’ booty in tow. All done out of love.pirate

But my very favorite Addams Family-Morticia-Pugsley moment happened last week. A major part of creating the perfect, old, broken down, dilapidated Macabre Inn scene is all of the dead branches and bushes she finds throughout the washes and fields in the area. She brings in the lifeless scrub, and meticulously arranges it all around to create the ideal “dead” look.

Catherine came home after a day of running to Home Depot (a dozen times, or so), Spirit Halloween, her storage units, and a few other places to help her perfect the Macabre Inn environment, only to find the most absolutely perfect, brittle, decaying, ten foot branch lying lifeless in her driveway. She assumed my mom found it for her. Nope. Then she actually for a minute thought her husband brought it home for her. Ha! (Not a chance!). When she was all out of ideas about how the perfect piece landed in her figurative lap, her 11 year old son walked around the corner with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face and asked her, “Did you see what I brought for you?”branch

Apparently, he saw it when he got off the bus and dragged it more than two blocks home to his mother’s Macabre Inn creation. He wasn’t even deterred when the cute girl from down the street who takes the same bus home questioned him. He simply replied to her with that Addams Family twinkle in his eye, “Don’t ask.” Yeah… that’s probably best.

Now that’s real love! And it still brings a tear to my eye.

All Kinds of Kinds

We went to the Miranda Lambert concert last week. It was fantastic from the opening act all the way through Miranda’s finale. Lots of energy, lots of talent, and a whole bunch of entertainment. Of the dozens of songs we heard that night, one in particular struck me as poignant. I know, I know… most people don’t think “poignant” when they think of Miranda Lambert, but trust me on this one.

While I love the message of the entire song, it was the opening stanza that caught my ear; it’s all about people in a circus. And I immediately thought about the Macabre Inn and the old, dysfunctional, broken down circus that my sister is pouring her heart and soul into. How can I not think of Catherine when I hear:

Ilsa was an acrobat who went and fell in love with that
Horatio the human cannonball.
A weddin’ ‘neath the big top tent with barkers clowns and elephants
Sideshow family oddities and all.

Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.

The Macabre Inn’s circus has acrobats, clowns, elephants, sideshows, a big top tent, and so many other cool and interesting displays. (I’m ignoring the “human cannonball” line for fear that when I get home tomorrow, she’ll have somehow constructed a life sized cannon and experiment with shooting large stuffed animals out of it – although that would be preferable to experimenting with her dog or youngest son…)

Which leads me to the meaning of the song. The chorus – It takes all kinds of kinds.  I’ve rarely heard one line that captures so much. It sounds so simple, but the truth in it runs deep. If it weren’t for people’s differences, what would this this world be like? I’ve told you that I was never really into Halloween. I kind of don’t get it….. And yet my sister lives and breathes this passion. I know there are times that all of us around Catherine on a daily basis look at her like she’s nuts for putting in the kind of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears we all see. But in the end, her Halloween passion brings awe-inspiring joy and amazement to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

What if everyone were like I am…? That would be tragic; there would be no Halloween festivities, no place for people to gather to gawk at an incredible display of talent, drive, and determination. And what if everyone were like Catherine? That would be scary! The world would be full of zombie and werewolf creations. (And no one in her family would have dinner on the table… 😉  )

I think about the various people I come across in any given day. – some of them drive me crazy. Some of them make me laugh. Some make me shake my head in disbelief. Some of them make me sad. There are those who inspire me. And those who make me think I’m SO glad I’m not like that! But the real truth is that all of them add to my life in one way or another – for better or worse – they give my life depth, balance, and perspective. It is always good to step back and reflect on what others add to your life. Because it takes all kinds of kinds.

How Halloween Unites a Family

My very conservative Catholic father might take exception to my assertion that Halloween unites a family (well… unless I tie it in to All Saints Day, which I’m not doing). But perhaps after reading this blog post, he may change his mind.

Let’s take a look at the typical modern American family. Since I’m fairly certain that our family is pretty typical, heck! let’s take a look at our family! (Yes, I’m well aware that there are those who would argue that ours isn’t exactly typical, but we’ll save that argument for another day. For now, I’m talking about the big, broad, brushstrokes of a typical American family).

You’ve got parents pulled in multiple directions, usually due to job necessities or other obligations. You’ve got college age kids who are more interested in the next frat party or drinking game than hanging out with family. There are the boys (young and old) who would far rather play video games than do just about anything else in the world. The teenage girls, of course, are significantly more interested in their social life than catching up with siblings and parents. Even the young ones would rather be riding bikes, playing instruments, or creating some new art project, than sitting around the table talking about the same subject as the others (not that I’m really complaining about that one…).

So where does Halloween fit into all of this? It’s come as a surprise…. even to the most optimistic of us adults. And it has trickled its way into our daily lives over the last few weeks. The parents are working together to solve problems like coming up with the perfect name, figuring out how to get the zombie people to stand up in the pool, or whether to build or buy the clown tent. The college age kids are suddenly talking about memories of Halloweens past, and that they can’t wait to bring their friends from school home to see this year’s spectacular. Grandparents are showing up with ideas about werewolf fur and oversized invaders scaling the walls.

The boys – yes the boys – are taking great pleasure in discovering what new Halloween object was created or purchased that day. (The other day, I came home and started cooking, only to notice there was a creepy skull placed on my cutting board. One of the boys could hardly wait to see my reaction to finding it where I normally prep all the food. He was honestly more interested in waiting for my reaction than he was in the game he was playing. He completely cracked up at my reaction. It was awesome to see!)

And even the teenage girls – perhaps the toughest nuts to crack – have joined in on the fun. They put down their Facebook, iPhones, and snapchat to find out how they can help create a piece of the Macabre Inn.

Everyone is engaged. And everyone is working together. That, my loyal readers, is how Halloween unites a family.

P.S Just in case any of you are worried about my conservative Catholic father being a buzz kill on the whole thing, you can lay those fears to rest. He is every bit as involved as the rest of the gang. He is all queued up to help Catherine build the vortex tunnel, the clown tent, and anything else that requires his assistance. So I’m pretty confident that in the end, he’ll have to agree with my premise. And he’ll do it with a smile on his face.

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