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Guest op-ed: A Halloween Christmas list

By Anneli Byrd - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 12, 2021

Anneli Byrd

I always go a little crazy at Christmas time. OK, maybe a lot crazy. I love looking through the catalogs which used to come earlier and earlier each year. Maybe they still do, I wouldn’t know. Since I’ve been dumb enough to buy some things, I get them year-round now. That means that, every now and then, my husband and daughter get text messages from me that say, “Look at this! Can you believe this is real?!” These are thing that even I wouldn’t buy, and that’s really saying something.

I usually like sharing these discoveries during the holidays, but this year, there are three special items that should not wait until Christmas. You need these for Halloween, even though none of them are being sold as Halloween decorations.

In fact, this first item was actually featured in the “What on Earth” spring catalog. Tragically, it has just recently been discontinued, which is extra sad because it actually would be great for Halloween. But you need to know about it anyway because the description and one of the reviews is priceless.

It’s a little night light and this part of the description sounds normal, “The lit-from-within accent lamp is a showstopper on a bookshelf or entry table, or use it as your bedtime companion.” “Ah,” you think, “this must be a little puppy or bunny rabbit, just right for my little one’s bedroom or even for myself after a hard day’s work.” You’d think. But if you click on the link, you see that your “bedtime companion” is a, drum roll … rat. And not just any rat; this one has “red eyes that glow.” Yes, just the thing to calm your nerves at 3 a.m. if you’ve had a bad dream. Clearly, we should all write to the catalog and demand they bring them back so we can all be as happy as this reviewer from California. “We bought two of these. They are on the floor (on) either side of our patio doors. We call them Otis Ratting and Gilda Ratner. We are delighted with them!”

But not to worry! Even though the rat has scurried away for the moment, you can still get these next two gems from my beloved Victorian Trading Company catalog.

This first item combines two nice things — an old-fashioned porcelain plate and a jewelry holder — to make this Franken-item, where the sum of its parts equals much less than the whole. From the porcelain plate emerges a white hand and you can put your rings on the stubby fingers, so long as the rings are thin and you don’t have too many of them (rings, that is). In the description, the catalog forgets to mention “useless” and “creepy,” which are the two strongest features. You can buy this item for only $19.99 and have it shipped directly to your local thrift store to save time.

Last and most disturbing today, we’re back to the rodents with this cast-iron door knocker for $34.95.

If you are unable to see the item, just try to imagine the charm of a beheaded cat holding a dead (or mostly dead) mouse by the tail.

One reviewer says, “I was amazed at how much more beautiful it looked in person.” Well, it could hardly look worse. The catalog calls this “Whimsical Beauty!” I don’t know. Maybe my sense of humor is lacking, but when my cats have brought in the occasional mouse, I haven’t exactly reacted with whimsical amusement.

I keep trying to imagine the kind of house that would be graced by this door knocker, but all that comes to mind is a maniacal villain “welcoming” me into his home. With a sinister laugh, he says, “Please come in. Isn’t that door knocker charming? I’m afraid I have a bit of a sense of humor. But don’t worry, nothing like that could possibly happen to you here. Ha ha ha ha.”

Come to think of it, maybe that’s the kind of person who wrote this review: “My family and I smile each day when we look at our whimsical kitty and mouse treasure.”

There you go. A few great ideas for Halloween, but maybe have your kids skip the houses with “whimsical” door knockers.

Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.


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