I've been missing my dad lately. Not that it is any more or less than usual, but I guess I've noticed it more the past week. Maybe it was Halloween. Maybe it's the sumac changing color. Maybe it's because it's football season and that was his favorite sport. I don't know.
Dad liked decorating for holidays. He was the outside decorator. He had pumpkin masks he put over the lights in front, he had big orange pumpkin bags he filled with leaves. He had lights and a creepy skeleton head. But he was best known for his "people" in the front yard.
It started with one guy. He had a Frankenstein monster-like head. He wore a bucket hat. He had on flannel and jeans and boots. He sat on a bucket and his arm rested on a "Dorian for Mayor" yard sign. Dad called him "the old cement finisher." Later he expanded to get the old cement finisher a wife, and eventually kids. Three to be exact.
He would always make my mom guess before beggar's night started how many trick-or-treaters they would have. And he would keep a tally. He had a pen and paper next to his chair and he'd make a hash mark for each little ghoul or goblin or princess or power ranger that came to his door.
He would decorate for Easter, too. He used all of my mom's plastic eggs and put a hole in the top and threaded string through so he could hang them up on a bush or tree. After he ran out of hers, he bought them at garage sales and second-hand stores. I have a big tin of them downstairs for our trees.
But his favorite holiday to decorate for was Christmas. They had three evergreens in the front yard and he would cover them with lights until they got too tall for him to put lights on. He didn't give up on the trees until they finally were taller than his combined reach and the eight foot long board he used to hook them up over a branch.
The lights usually went along the peak of the house and along the front of the garage, too. And there were the lighted reindeer, too. Bucks and does and fawns. Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as Frosty the Snowman were always present, too. If it lit up, Dad liked it.
He usually put the Christmas tree up inside, too. The day after Thanksgiving he's put it up, string the lights, put on the tinsel and either Santa or a star on top. Then he'd let Mom do the rest. He usually let Mom take care of the inside decorations, too. Mainly because what Dad really liked were decorations that made noise. Lots of noise. Singing a song, playing a tune, you name it. Occasionally he would walk through the house and turn each item on and then sit back down.
I miss hearing him talk about football with my husband. I miss how mad he'd get at the coaches and the players and the officials. So mad he'd have to leave the room.
There are so many thing I miss. I was a very lucky girl to have a dad like mine. He was one in a million. But forty one years was not enough.