Holidays and magical creatures


Randy Riley - Contributing columnist



We are now poised at the brink of our national holiday season. We have about eight weeks between Labor Day and Halloween to prepare for the sprint into our busiest holiday time of year.

As soon as the Corn Festival is behind us, all the area stores start stocking Halloween candy, spooky costumes and scary decorations.

Then, suddenly, something magical happens. Immediately after beggar’s night, the heavily packed shelves of scary decorations are replaced with a few Thanksgiving decorations that are mixed in with the sparkle of Christmas gifts and decorations. Then, within days of our turkey feast, the Pilgrims vanish and are completely replaced with elves, reindeer and Christmas wrapping paper.

All of this places us squarely on the starting line for our mad-dash to New Year’s Eve followed the next day by a gut-filling dinner of pork, sauerkraut and all the other lucky food the dining room table can hold.

Until then, we have three months of fun-filled, action-packed holidays to survive. Unfortunately, it seems lately that they all mush together like a spooky-Pilgrim-dressed-elf.

My daughter, Jessica, and her family have more fun during the holiday season than most people. A few years ago, Jessi took a small artificial Christmas tree upstairs and stored it in a spare room. Last year, she brought it down just before Halloween and put a few strings of orange-colored pumpkin lights and some other Halloween items on it to decorate their front room for Halloween.

My 5-year old grandson, Clayton, looked at it and just didn’t know what to think. He asked his Mommy why they had a Christmas tree decorated for Halloween in their living room. She explained that they could decorate a tree for any holiday. Now, it was a Halloween tree.

Clayton got quiet. He thoughtfully looked at the tree for a few minutes.

Then, he told Jessi, “Well, the Easter Bunny is just gonna love this.” Wisdom and insight right out of the mouth of my grandson.

A few years ago, a movie was released that united most of the magical people and fairy tale creatures that have enchanted us for centuries. It was entitled, “Rise of the Guardians.” Everyone from the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, Santa and The Sand Man united to protect the children of the world from an evil creature that threatened all of us. It might sound silly, but I liked it.

It brought back warm childhood memories of my parents and the efforts they took to protect us from the perils of growing up too soon. They kept alive the spirit and tales of Santa and the Easter Bunny. My brother and sisters and I should have caught on sooner, but I don’t think we wanted to ruin their fun and ours.

One Easter Sunday in the mid-1960s, it snowed several inches. We were allowed to go out looking for Easter eggs before we left for Sunday School.

Later that day, as I thought about it, it struck me as odd that there were no rabbit tracks in the backyard, but some of the footprints looked like they could have been made by my Dad. That struck me as strange, but I didn’t ask about it.

When my sons were little and started losing their baby teeth, I explained about the Tooth Fairy and about carefully putting the tooth under their pillow. I told them that they could sleep well knowing their tooth was safe and that they had nothing to fear from the Tooth Fairy. I explained that the Tooth Fairy didn’t take the tooth, but magically changed it into a dollar bill.

To prove this, we started putting the tooth in an envelope with their name on it. After writing their name on the outside of the envelope, I would seal the tooth inside and place the envelope under the pillow. Magically, the next morning the tooth was gone; replaced with a crisp one-dollar bill in an envelope with their name still written on it. It looked like magic.

After a few years of shedding teeth, they caught on to me. Instead of allowing me to write their name on the outside of the envelope they insisted they write it themselves.

When they saw that the envelope with the dollar was different than the envelope with the tooth, my secret was out, but we had fun with it for a few years.

Our celebration of holidays may seem silly to some people, but there is joy to be found in sharing the magic of this special season of our holidays. From Happy Halloween to Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, we have a lot of fun ahead of us.

Oh, by the way… The Easter Bunny loved his special tree.

Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and former Clinton County Commissioner.

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Randy Riley

Contributing columnist