Confessions of a Terrible "Phantom Ghost"
Can we talk about the neighborhood Halloween Phantom Ghost? You know, when someone leaves a plate of goodies on your door step along with a cutesy poem and a photocopied ghost to hang on your window? Yeah, that. I always forget about it until it shows up every October. And as I stare down at those adorably frosted pumpkin cookies, I feel a little dizzy (as I stuff my mouth with pumpkin cookies). Because few things cause me more stress in October than that blasted ghost.
Don't get me wrong- I LOVE treats. And people who bring them to me are my favorite. But I am really (really) bad at BEING the Phantom Ghost. Here's why.
First, I have to photocopy the poem and the ghost. Why does photocopying seem so archaic to me? I mean sure, I have one of those cheap 3 in 1 printer things, but I use the copy machine function so rarely I have to re-learn how to use it every time. And even if I KNEW how to use it, it would be broken. And even if it WASN'T broken, I'd be out of ink. If I'm lucky, there might be some color left. Then the ghost and poem could be printed in a lovely yellow. "Dear friend, I know you can't read this because it's printed in yellow. But you know the drill. Love, PG."
Next, I have to bake something. If you know me, you know I'm not a baker. It exhausts me and I can't get things to turn out as yummy or cute as other people. And to make a treat that's Halloweeny looking? Forget it. My brain would explode. Now, let me assure you I've fulfilled many a Phantom duty with cheap, store bought goodies. "Happy Halloween. I took the price tag off." Because those are your choices people. It's either store-bought treats or slightly overcooked homemade bat cookies with pink sprinkles because I didn't have black or orange.
Then there's the actual drop-and-run. The ghost commands that you deliver them the next day. Not happening. (Remember? I have to figure out a way to get the thing photocopied, and then make or buy something to deliver. I need a few days for that, Mr. Ghost!) I also have to hope that I have the right age of kid around to manipulate into doing the dirty work (aka jumping out of the car in the freezing cold and running to the door/knocking/running). In my family, this only sounds fun to the younger grade schoolers. So I pray I have a 1st grader laying around somewhere.
I decided the reason I'm so bad at Phantom Ghost is because it requires the use of gifts that aren't mine. Baking, decorating, photocopying (yes, that's a gift), and getting kids in the car with shoes and coats on (also a gift I don't have). It got me thinking- why not invent a Phantom that celebrates MY gifts? Like spelling, for example. There should be a Spelling Leprechaun. There's a knock on your door and you look down to find an essay with spelling/grammatical errors to correct. Then you pass a different essay on to a neighbor. How fun would that be?? I'm doing it.
One final thought. This morning I mentioned to my SIL that sometimes "anonymous service" seems out of place to me, because what people often need (instead of treats) is a hug, a friend, and some eye contact. (Not to mention I would really love to know who left the to-die-for-treats on MY door, just so I could hug them and say thank you. Between bites.) She thought about that and later texted me this: "I really like what you said about people needing people. So I decided if we get hit with the ghost, we are going to take time to take treats to a FAMILY instead of a doorstep. My kids would think it was so fun to ring the doorbell, hide, then jump out with a BOO when they answer the door. Followed by some 'how are you guys doing?' and 'we sure love your family!' Breaking a trend? No, improving it!" (Isn't that a cool idea?)
Now, to all you wonderfully thoughtful and talented people who enjoy the Phantom Ghost, I adore you. And I'm crazy jealous of your gifts. And to all my neighbors that get really lame store-bought treats and a ghost that has spaghetti sauce smudged on it, I apologize. But maybe my hug and smile will make up for it.
(Oh, and if the Spelling Leprechaun finds his way to your door, you'll know who sent him. Get those red pencils ready.)