Spooky Vows and Sweet Guantlets 

Today was a crazy busy one at school, with lots of teaching, advising sessions, and rehearsals for a recital Sunday and Tennessee recital tour starting Monday morning. When I finally got home, I found our dining room a chaotic mess, and in the center of it all, my husband playing with his Halloween finds (in this instance, a fog machine and several new animatronics) because we didn’t have enough in the, oh I don’t know, maybe eight tubs of Halloween stuff in the garage. If you know us at all, you know that we are big kids when it comes to Halloween. We don’t have children, but we have enough kid in us to make the most of one of our favorite holidays- and the neighborhood children (and their parents) really seem to appreciate our efforts. In fact, we have carloads of folks who come every year saying that our house is their favorite (who else around here has a graveyard, animatronics that talk to you, leap out at you, tell you your fortune, fog, lighting effects…all at a scary old house on top of a hill with lots of candy for those brave enough to make the climb up the thirty-four steps to terror? Sorry – got a bit carried away there. 

Mr. MacKenzie goes wild at Halloween. Someone save me!


The girls were quarantined outside while Dan ammassed the spooky stuff.

I have very special memories of Halloween from my childhood on Westwood Lane (except for the candy corn…ugh). We would play the Disney haunted house album on my portable LP player to set the mood, we’d carve a pumpkin….and then I’d go trick-or-treating as an old woman, using Mom’s silver wig, her shawl, and a cane from her collection.  I made a rockin’ old lady…I hope that still I do when the time really comes. I love that Mom never failed to make the most of every holiday, money or not (and it was always ‘not’), joining in with child-like wonder and spirit. I have married a man that is exactly the same when it comes to holidays – we do it up big at Chez Gainey, whether it’s for a crowd or just the two of us. I like that, as it makes everything extra special, building wonderful memories of shared fun together. It’s a lot of work to pull it all off, but totally worth it to our our way of thinking. 


Halloween also has a not-so-great side, too. It has typically started off the holiday season of debauchery with all of its tantalizing chocolate in seemingly safe bite-size proportions. Dan has a huge sweet tooth, and the gargantuan bags of candy mysteriously get opened early, leaving a trail of shiny bite-sized wrappers. In the past I would join him, but this year will be different- I’ve vowed to run the sugary gauntlet without having one piece of candy. I have finally learned what works for me where things like this are concerned- if I don’t have a piece, I don’t want any; if I have a piece, I want fifty. I worked too hard to drop forty-five pounds this year, so I think I will enjoy handing the candy out to the cute kiddies (and my husband), and being able to fit into my favorite clothes.

  These guys are scary- they talk and their faces move. Nightmares, here I come….

All in all, my favorite part of Halloween is when all the work is done and we get to hand candy out to the children. Dan wil use the dimmer to raise and lower the lanterns on the gate that he has covered with giant pumpkins, and we’ll laugh when we hear the spider and ghoul animatronics jump up and loudly yell after being set off by an unsuspecting child or parent…as well as their screams and laughter- All in good fun. We are the only house around that does all of this, and I like the idea of giving something special and fun back to this ‘hood that we love so much. I also enjoy getting to be a kid again, making new memories to heap on the pile of many other fun holidays. Hoping you all have a fun and spooky Halloween….eat some candy for me – but not too much. Most importantly, enjoy every moment. 


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