|Martha Stewart as 'Queen of the Wild Things'|
The other night, I accompanied my husband as he lectured at the fund-raiser for a local politician at a lakeside mansion. The lane to the home flickered with eerie illuminaria; a large 3-D ghoul welcomed us, chalky face, long white hair and arms with skeletal bony fingers that caught the clothes of those passing within. The entry danced with the light from blinking vignettes of haunted houses, replete with flying bats, fluttering ghosts, and sound effects of screaming and slamming doors. Piles of pumpkins graced tables, some gilded, others warty, some sparkling with sequins. A metal cut-out of an arched-spined, hissing black cat stared, frozen on the fireplace mantel.
|Free party invitation from Crate and Barrel|
Martha Stewart has for years embraced Halloween as her opportunity for expression, and scores of other purveyors recently joined the party. Pottery Barn tells you how to throw a Halloween soiree, with a recipe for "ghoul-a-tinis," while Crate and Barrel has embraced the Day of the Dead (actually November 1) with black skull candles ($4.95 for three) and free party invitations. Annual special issues of Martha Stewart's magazine offer pumpkin-carving designs, table-scaping ideas and costume-making innovations. Pop-up stores dot malls as summer ends, offering costumes for all, from the adorable to the skanky.
Every year, my husband and I enjoy "the Great Halloween Debate" on his radio show. I'm "for" and he's "against," saying it teaches kids to beg, inspires vandalism, and turns focus to death. I counter that it's all voluntary and great fun; that costumes bring imagination and creativity, and holiday purchases fire our economy. We'll once again enter our friendly on-air spar next Thursday. Every year I win.
|Martha Stewart in her cat costume|
I think retailers will be pleasantly surprised, judging from the way my neighborhood looked even weeks before the spooky night. Ghoulish Scrooges will simply turn off their porch lights, while the rest of us smile as children fill our doorways with their excited one-word exclamations: "Trickertreeeet!"