Trick or Treats and Ghost Stories

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Friday was Halloween. It seems like Halloween gets a little more popular every year. There are even special Halloween stores now and many, many decorated yards. I’m not much of a decorator. I have put pumpkins out on my porch when we raised them in the garden a time or two and I might have even carved a face in one once. Only once, because I don’t like the smell of pumpkins’ innards. Then one time I bought one of those orange garbage bags with a pumpkin face on it and filled it up with leaves. That is the extent of my Halloween decorating. No spiders with legs all across the yard. No ghosts floating down from the trees. I leave all that up to everybody else.

My son-in-law enjoys Halloween. If he had more time he’d have spiders and witches and ghosts and who knows what else decorating his lawn. They live in a nice old neighborhood in SC and have a pile of trick or treaters every year. They lay in the candy (about 500 pieces) and get ready to enjoy all the kids in costume. But this year they had a little problem. They joke about their house being haunted. It’s seen a lot of living in the years since it’s been built and occasionally something strange happens. A wet spot stain where there are no water pipes. A door shutting when there’s no wind. A creaking floor board. You know, old house noises, etc.

I used to live in an old house – so old part of it was log under the wood siding. Every noise, we just said it was the house settling or the old boards creaking. We sometimes blamed ghosts but always in jest. We didn’t really think there were ghosts. But some people like the idea of ghosts as long as they aren’t the kind that do anything more than creak a board now and again.

Well, on Halloween in the midst of the candy passing out frenzy, my daughter’s front door shut and locked. Nobody knows how. They have a German Shepherd who might have decided he’d seen all the little monsters he wanted to see for one night and perhaps he nosed the door shut. Or perhaps it was a mischievous ghost. At any rate my daughter and son-in-law were out on the porch with no unlocked doors or windows on the first floor. So they had to go borrow a ladder and my daughter climbed up to the top of the porch and scrambled in a second floor window that luckily wasn’t locked or painted shut. Meanwhile, they ran out of candy outside and had to turn away a lot of trick or treaters. They couldn’t get inside to get the next bowl of candy or to turn off their front porch light to let the kids know there were no treats. Guess they all got tricked. My daughter just hoped she wasn’t going to be tricked by a bunch of angry little ninjas and princesses and supermen.

Did you ever go trick or treating? I went once when I was about ten. A friend invited me and I thought it was going to be fun having all that candy. I love candy. But I didn’t like trick or treating. I guess I was too old already, but I remember being very glad when I could go home. My friend enjoyed it though. And so do my grandkids. Actually I have fun now seeing all the kids show up. I don’t have but three or four ever come to my door out here in the country, but I like visiting my kids’ houses and helping them give out candy. The little kids are all so cute in their costumes. This year there were a bunch of pretty butterflies. My littlest grandkid was the cutest dog ever. Some churches make the Halloween an outreach night and have trunk and treat where the members pass out candy from the trunks of their cars. That way the kids don’t have to be out on the streets. Then other churches have parties where their young people dress up as Bible characters or something sweeter and kinder than ghosts and monsters. I like the Bible character idea. It’s a great chance for the kids to not only hear a Bible story but to be part of the story.

So Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is on the way with Christmas chasing right along behind it. Sometimes the days pass so quickly that I don’t really appreciate the gift of each day’s hours the way I should. I fill up my days with too many “to dos” and not enough “enjoys.” And now even with all the chores the holidays bring, I’m anxious to be writing again. The last story is wrapped up and sent in and the itch is growing in me. Something doesn’t feel right and I know it’s because I’m not putting words together to tell a new story. And yet I have to let that new story gather in my mind – at least a bit of it. I need the “What if” beginning and the characters. Who is going to spring into life in my head? Will she be pretty? Will he be brave? Will he need to be brave? Or maybe she will be the one who has to be brave? At this point all the questions are out there and none of the answers. Right now I don’t want all the answers. I want the answers to show up while I’m writing. But I am ready to know whose story it’s going to be.

Check back with me Wednesday. I think I’ll talk about trees. Do you like trees? Do you have a favorite tree? The newspaper asked that last week. It’s a good question and one that I’m ready to see if I can answer before I head off to SC for my booksignings at the Barnes and Noble in Greenville on Thursday night. I just found out there are two B & N stores there, but I’m going to be at the one on Heywood Road. Then Friday night I’ll be at the Spartanburg Barnes & Noble. If you’re in the area come on out to see me. You can tell me about your favorite tree.