Halloween Die-ary: October 31, 2018 (Halloween Itself!)


“That thing doesn’t scare me anymore,” said Lindsey as she threw the large rubber spider I had hidden under her pillow to the foot of the bed, where its legs jiggled briefly on the comforter. That’s when you know Halloween’s over. When the rubber spider doesn’t work anymore (although it worked for two months, and I’m still half-wondering if she’s bluffing).

Today was about one thing and one thing only: Trick-or-treating. Or trick-r-treating. Or trick ‘r treating Or tricks-or-treating, if you believe It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

This year we decided to do our TRTing at my in-laws’ neighborhood. Last year, we TRT’d our new neighborhood, but it was sort of a slog. The houses were just far enough apart and the driveways just long and uphill enough to tire our youngest out pretty fast.


This year, my eldest was a werewolf, my youngest a witch, my wife opted out, and I went as a…sheet ghost.

This was a long-held dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to cut holes in a sheet and wear it for Halloween. I don’t know why I haven’t. Probably because our sheets are all rubber. Or paisley patterned. But this year I did it. I was also semi-thinking of turning it into a Michael Myers costume by throwing a pair of glasses on top, but that seemed a little too topical, and I wanted the costume to be more classic. I love the classic Halloween costumes.


We wandered in the dark, looking for porch lights and glowing jack-o-lanterns to mine for sweets until the girls’ plastic orange jack-o pails were so full of candy brains that they were complaining about carrying them and I’d just about chocked to death on my own carbon dioxide under that sheet. We then hung out back at the in-laws for the rest of the night, where we watched local personality Fritz Wetherbee tell ghost stories on spooky stages. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the word “necrophilia” spoken in a broad, New Hampshire accent by a bow-tied man with spectacles and a white beard.


Looking back over the season (which, by the way, is a lot easier to do when you journal every single day of the last 61), it’s hard for me to wrap my head around this one. It feels as if the season was constrained quite a bit due to the baby gestating, arriving, and then being here. But unless I lied throughout this Halloween die-ary, we did some serious stuff.

We saw Elvira live. Took a day trip through Vermont. Another through Massachusetts. Broke in a corn maze. TRT’d a haunted attraction. Carved jack-o-lanterns. Watched horror and Halloween movies and shows. Went to a Christmas themed amusement park. Decorated a horse stall. Decorated our front yard. Decorated an elementery school hallway. Decorated our living room—and learned that if you take those foam lawn gravestones and lean them against the walls of your room and on your mantel, it really makes your Halloween décor seem architectural. I’ll do this the rest of my Halloweens. We made popcorn balls and caramel apples. Ate candy with glow-in-the-dark wrappers. I guested on Coast to Coast AM. We visited astounding cemeteries less than half an hour from me that I’d never been to before.


I visited Salem four times this season—more times than any other season (not counting 2015, the A Season with the Witch year), one of which was to give a talk. In fact, I gave two talks this season, both of which were totally fun and allowed me to meet a lot of cool people, some for the first time, some for the first time IRL, and some for the second and third times. And while both events were great, the Salem appearance might have been one of my favorite moments of the entire season. My whole family got to listen to me speak, which has never really happened due to their ages and logistics. My eldest wanting to sit on the front row and come up on stage right before the talk is a forever-embedded-in-my-brain-cells moment for me. It was also special because the talk was a part of Salem Horror Fest. And because I finally got to give a talk on A Season with the Witch in Salem itself. The month that book came out was the same month my mother died, so I tamped down on appearances and so never got to talk about this book in the city that it is about. This event felt like a correction for that.

Making the Halloween Die-ary my primary content was a fun experiment. In some ways, it felt like less work than other years. In other ways, it felt like much more. I was still able to do about a dozen standalone articles, and, honestly, I would say some two dozen of the die-ary entries would have been standalone any other year. I’m not making any predictions for next year, but that’s only because crystal balls don’t work as well after October.


Obviously, the birth of my third daughter was the centerpiece of the season, the giant table jack-o-lantern of a family dinner that doesn’t exist as a Halloween tradition. I’ve said this before, but I’ve always wanted to have an October birthday (two of my brothers have them), so this feels like righting a wrong. Also, it adds a nuance to my season going forward.

So thanks everyone who followed along. Thanks for sending me emails and letters and posting social media comments, offering me encouragement and celebrating the season along with me. That feedback kept this thing going, for reals. I’m definitely one for screaming into the void, but there’s only so much even I can do. Thanks also to everyone who used the season as an excuse to join us in the OTIS Club for even more seasonal shenanigans.

And that’s it. The end of the ninth OTIS Halloween Season. Keep Halloween in your hearts. And remember to pull them out of your freezer and check for mold spots every once in a while.