Bad Dad: Shaping up to be a rosy Halloween

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year.

But it's actually become a second Father's Day in our house.

It could have something to do with the kids going back to school, the changing of the seasons or the anticipation of a good scare, or the scores of candy that we purchase for the kids in our neighborhood.

Since we live in my childhood home, I can recall that the house has been decorated many different ways. When I was younger, DayGlo green paper skeletons and funky homemade decorations adorned the windows. I always got excited when I got home from school and saw that my mom had pulled down the Halloween boxes and started to tape up the assorted cats, witches and spider webs.

But as I got older, I got more of a say in how we decorated for All Hallows Eve.

Like the year we stuffed some old clothes with newspaper and sat it in a chair on the patio.

Or when my dad hung a ghost over the gate with long, flowing strips of bed sheets that people had to walk through.

Or the time I cut out a bunch of bats from black construction paper and placed them on the trees outside.

Of course at night, no one could see the black bats as they crept up our walkway. The fact they were there was all that mattered.

Now that my own family lives in the house, I always try to outdo myself. Instead of an old vinyl record with spooky songs, we now have an mp3 player with ambient sound effects. In place of dry ice in a bucket, we use a fog machine. And our address has become the must-visit house on the block since we bought a 12-foot-tall pumpkin scarecrow with glowing eyes.

This year, I decided I was going to add something else to the front of the house. So I decided I was going to hang our Christmas lights early and use all of the red bulbs. My 8-year-old daughter, seemingly inheriting my enthusiasm for decorating for the haunted holiday, had her own idea: purple bulbs.

So in an effort to include her in my excitement for Halloween, I found a place online that sells all different colors of holiday lights. Five days later, 100 grape-colored C9 bulbs arrived. We were both giddy with excitement as we held them in the light of the morning.

I quickly dragged down the storage box with all our external Christmas lights and pulled out four strands. For over an hour, I affixed them to the eaves of the house as my daughter excitedly watched from below.

She started to gush how we could sub out the purple bulbs after Halloween with yellow and orange ones for Thanksgiving, then have green and red lights for Christmas. My daughter was clearly channeling her inner Clark Griswold as she mapped out our external lighting plan for the remainder of the year.

I can only imagine what our electric bill will look like.

Once the strands were finished, I was getting ready to screw in the bulbs one by one. She wanted to help, so I let her carefully climb the 5-foot ladder to screw in the lights. But I was really nervous, since we only had 100 bulbs, and she's been known to be a little clumsy. I hovered close, in case she dropped any of the date-sized bulbs. Fortunately she did not.

Thirty minutes and 25 bulbs later, she lost interest. It was getting close to dinner, and the family wanted to go out to eat. I deftly screwed in the remaining bulbs and hooked up the lines to a timer. After setting the correct hour, I clamored down the ladder and headed inside to get ready to take the family out for supper.

When we returned home after dark, I couldn't believe my eyes. Our entire house was glowing pink. My wife couldn't help but laugh out loud as she cracked, "Oh look kids, look at our spooky pink house."

I couldn't understand it. In the sunlight, the bulbs were a rich violet purple; now they burned a warm fuchsia. I looked back at my daughter, who was smiling widely.

"The house is so pretty, Daddy," she said.

"We don't want a pretty house," I shot back. "We want it to be scary."

My wife rolled her eyes (as she's apt to do) and headed into the wine-colored abode with the kids. I stood dumbfounded in the front yard, bathed in magenta.

"Well, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month," I thought to myself. "Cancer is scary, right?"

MATT MURRAY is a designer-copy editor at the Daily Pilot, as well as an established blogger-videographer-podcaster. Pile on him at

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