The first Halloween we spent without my husband was only five days after he died. I really wanted to carry on many of our Halloween traditions, like decorating the house and yard. And trick-or-treating. But it was so hard to think of doing anything at all. Despite my lack of desire to participate, I knew the kids would be disappointed if we didn’t do something. It was one of the hardest things I had done in those first few days to take my kids to the local trunk-or-treat for a few hours that night. But Halloween was, and still is, one of theirs and their dad’s favorite holidays. He looked forward to it every year with the same glee and anticipation that I look forward to Christmas. So I put on my big girl pants and we celebrated Halloween that year as best we could.
The next year, we were in a new house and a new city. As the end of September approached, I started to become nervous and a little depressed. Because Garry loved Halloween so much, the thought of doing it every year without him cast a shadow over the whole holiday for me. I really didn’t want it to, however, because I knew how much my kids enjoyed it. As the countdown to “Halloween month” began, I knew I would have to find a way to reclaim Halloween as an enjoyable experience for me. I pondered the issue for quite a bit of time when one day I had a little epiphany.
As I was strolling the aisles of Target (one of my favorite things to do, of course) I was looking at the Halloween decor they put out super early, as they do. And I walked by a life-sized plastic skeleton. For whatever reason, I thought how ridiculous he looked in the position he was packaged in, with the silly permanent toothy grin and catawampus limbs. I thought how my kids would laugh at how silly he looked. And then, like a grand flash of genius, I knew how I could use this ridiculous plastic skeleton to bring a bit of joy and fun back to Halloween for my little family.
On the first day of October, I got up a little early and put the skeleton in a chair, covered in a blanket, reading a magazine. When the kids woke up and came downstairs they discovered him immediately and began laughing hysterically. They quickly named him Mr. Bones, and every day for the rest of the month, I moved him from place to place, silly position to silly position, and waited with baited breath for the kids to find him. Every morning, they jumped out of bed and immediately went searching for Mr. Bones and begged to take pictures with him. For the entire month leading up to Halloween, our Mr. Bones brought laughs and smiles and, for me, a newfound sense of childhood and ridiculous fun. It was just what we needed.
I started posting about Mr. Bones on my Facebook and Instagram pages and people loved him. I tried to explain what he was for us and the best description I could come up with was, “He’s our Halloween version of Elf on a Shelf.” Now, he’s our favorite part of October. Even some of my friends wait all year to see what Mr. Bones does each October!
This year, Mr. Bones is back and he even gained an undead pet cat. We call him Binx (10 points if you can name the movie!). The kids, my followers, my family, even perfect strangers will come across a post about Mr. Bones and they laugh and roll their eyes and smile. And that’s exactly what I wanted him to bring back into our lives this time of year. Now he’s doing it for people I don’t even know, and I think that’s pretty awesome.
We may not have the Halloween traditions that we once had when Garry was alive. And we sure will miss him, especially on the holiday that he loved most. But we continue to honor him by taking what could be a really sad holiday and reinventing it into something we thoroughly enjoy. I know he would’ve LOVED the new Halloween tradition of Mr. Bones.