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A Michael Phelps Wannabe Of Halloween
It's three weeks until Halloween, which is a very exciting time around Tampa Bay. We may not have the falling temperatures and colorful foliage that the rest of the country experiences this time of year, but we are every bit as much in the seasonal spirit. Each day our neighbors' homes become a little spookier, a bit more witchier, and a whole lot more fun. This is the time of year when I look forward to taking the dog for a walk, just so I can take a look at the creep-factor everyone else's home has to offer... and dare I say, get an idea of how my neighbors' homes compare to mine. I know, it's not very zen-like to have a "keeping up with Joneses" mentality, and normally, I'm a pretty zen-like person. It's just that something about holiday decorating channels the Michael Phelps-like competitor within me. Maybe it's because when my kids were old enough to see out the window, we began our yearly ritual of piling into the car on a Friday night during Halloween season just to check out the decorations on all of the homes around town. At some point, and I'm not sure exactly when, the passive activity of watching the ghouls and zombies pass by our car morphed into a raucous exchange of scoring, challenges, and rebuttals. We have become a car full of critics, allotting every home we pass by a score of 1-10, 10 being the highest most glorious score achievable.
The scoring criteria is simple:
How much time and effort does it seem they spent decorating?
Did they get creative or rely solely on store-bought items (a yard filled with inflatables yields a pitiful score with us).
Is there a theme that makes sense or is it a mish-mosh of incongruous concepts strewn about haphazardly; ie. a Mickey Mouse pirate next to a bloodied axe-driven head?
Occasionally, there is harmony in the car in the form of four heads nodding in agreement over the score. But more often, you will hear someone yell out, "No Way!". In these instances, the challenger gets their turn to attempt to sway the others to their side. A debate ensues. Then follows numerous rebuttals and passionate protests. It's loud. It's heated. It's fun.
It's also inspiring. I am always amazed by the flair and creativity I see in some of my neighborhood's masterpieces. So every year, I approach decorating day with the gusto-driven intention to be one of those homes that we would score a 10... to be THE home on my street that brings the neighbors out of their own comfy living rooms just to gawk in awe over the spectacular display of Halloween spirit creeping out of every bush, tree, flowerbed, and window frame we've got! So every year, I drag out boxes of old skeletons and pumpkin stakes and add a few new ghosts, goblins and tombstones to the mix. I approach this process much like I'd imagine a painter would approach her canvas. I place and hang, then move and re-hang... I call everyone in the house to come outside and weigh in... then I send them back in and say it's not finished. To some, this may sound like a horrible way to spend the weekend, but to me, it's joyous. Really.
I've been a competitive decorator for about 10-12 years now and to date, I'm afraid I've yet to achieve 10-status. Yes, the intention and the drive are there, and yes, I always set out to awe and amaze! But truth be told, I tend to rely more on store-bought creativity than my own, and I generally run short on time (and helpers) and end up wrangling with string-lit pumpkins that won't stay lit and battery operated zombies that sound like they're under water. Eventually I acknowledge to myself, "This is as good as it's gonna get," and I promise not to take anymore trips to Home Depot or Party City. But I'm never disappointed that all my exuberance and efforts didn't manifest in the form of an awe-inspiring, head-turning 10. On the contrary, when the decorating is finally done I always feel proud, exhausted, and ready to enjoy a nice glass of wine. I suppose this is where the zen-like approach to life I generally aim for steps in to remind myself that it is the journey, not the destination, that matters. As long as I still have a goal to achieve, my journey and the joy it gives me will continue year after year... and let's not forget, there's always Christmas right around the corner.
Happy Decorating and Happy Halloween!
FUN FACTS ABOUT TRACEY: - Is a Florida native, raised in Seminole - Cooking & Yoga are her favorite off-duty activities - Mom to Delaney & Ryan, the 2 greatest kids in the world - Is a graduate of....
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