Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Devil's Holiday

When I worked at my favorite store, I had an equally favorite store next door.  It was a home décor and furnishings business that was filled with vintage and new wares.  Their displays were so inventive and creative (and even more so for the holidays) that I would often wander over when things were slow at our place.  These two businesses were the perfect neighbors - creative and arty in every aspect.

I wasn't the only Nattie that shopped next door.  Often on the way back and forth from the parking lot to the store, one of us would say, "Have you seen what they've got in the window now?"  That would cause an exodus to check out their newest display that often resulted in returning to the home base for a debit card.

I got a vintage chair reupholstered in houndstooth as a Christmas present one year.  Two days in the window and I brought Mark by and said, "This.  This is all I want this year."  It has been in my living room ever since and is still one of my favorite things.

One day when my mom was visiting I took her up to the shopping center to meet my coworkers.  "We have to go next door, too, Mom.  You have to see what they do."  My mom doesn't share my love of vintage, but she is game and acts enthused when I gush over rust because she is a mom and that's in the job description regardless of the age of the kid.

The owner happened to be in and I introduced her to Mom.  Her and one of her employees were in the process of taking down the Halloween decorations to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Oh, I just hate Halloween," Mom said. 

"Me, too," the owner said.  "You do know it's the devil's holiday, don't you?"

Among the skulls and bats and other ghoulish decor, Mom said, "Oh yes, of course I've heard it referred to as that. But for my husband and me it was more about trying to come up with costumes for six kids every year.  That was long before you could actually buy a costume like you can now.  You had to be creative with whatever you had on hand."

Her six kids could vouch for that.  We spent years being ghosts (hello white twin size sheet) or Mom's personal favorite - a hobo.  None of us actually knew what a hobo was, but Mom sure did and she could blacken a wine cork and smudge your face dirty like a hobo pro. 

"I don't like it," we all said to her at one time or another.

"You look great," she'd say shoving you out the door with a brown paper grocery sack and a bandana hanging from a stick over your shoulder.  And when the neighborhood kids would ask you what you were supposed to be and you said "hobo", they would look equally confused.

But at that point it no longer mattered.  With no curfew, supervision or limits on radius or neighborhoods, what mattered most was how many pounds of candy you and your costumed cohorts could haul home before your overladen paper sack would tear and spill all that sugary goodness onto the the sidewalk.

It was the most perfect day to be a kid.

"Didn't you love that store, Mom?" I asked as we headed to the car.

"It was fine," she said.  "I have to say, though, that that woman sure doesn't seem to mind making a buck off the devil's holiday."

That's when I knew that despite what she always proclaimed, Mom had secretly been on the side of her six, little devils.....even if it meant losing her marbles for weeks before.

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