novelty mugs and other spooky threats to my sanity.
There are currently three large, nay, enormous Charlie Brown pumpkin mugs taking up residence on the floor of my living room. They are high-gloss and bulbous, as you might expect from a mug masquerading as a pumpkin. They do not fit in our kitchen cabinets. They are identical, purchased for my three children, and thoughtfully hand-delivered by a doting and generous neighbor. He found them at the dollar store on the way home from the commissary at the watery southern edge of Brooklyn. His weekly shops there often include treats for my children, his military pension stretched to accommodate plastic clamshells of mini cupcakes and boxes of Hostess Ding Dongs. To my gentle protestations, he says simply that the treats are not for me, they’re for my kids. Thank you, I say. You’re too kind. You don’t have to do that. His reply, reasonably enough, is I know.
There is currently a gargantuan black cauldron in my son’s bed. It was the coveted grand prize for correctly guessing the number of candy corn in a glass jar at the school’s annual fall festival. While I spent the afternoon at the festival slicing through cardboard with a utility knife and helping to engineer feats of cardboard fort construction that defied all laws of physics, my child was eyeing the orange cellophane-wrapped plastic cauldron, filled to brimming with giant candy bars, and light-up eyeball bouncy balls, and a plastic lollipop cover in the shape of a skull. He was among four kids to guess one thousand candy corn in the jar, but it was his name that was pulled to receive the coveted prize. Being magnanimous, and also not caring for Three Musketeers bars, he decided to share some of his booty, which is how I came to find myself in a melee of fantastically farting children, grasping for whatever they could reach and pleading for mercy from my child, doler of treats.
There are currently the remains of goodie bags from three birthday parties strewn around my apartment. Each party brought with it it’s own bag, some of which were delivered in triplicate to placate siblings. The goodies included the usual fare: masks, and blow-up swords, and sticky Spidermen, one of which is slowly coming unstuck from the ceiling above me as I type.
All of this abundance, no doubt, comes from a place of generosity. It’s the desire to delight and celebrate small kids made tangible. It’s largesse we’re rightfully thankful for, but it’s also much too much. It’s more than can be properly appreciated, it’s more than our planet groaning under the weight of our consumption can bear, and it’s more, certainly, than can fit in the very limited crooks and crannies of a New York City apartment.
What, you might ask, does an ogre like me, sensitive to stuff, allergic to mess, and despairing over plastic consumption do about this kind of seasonal abundance? Besides gnashing my teeth and holding my tongue, here’s my imperfect advice, to be taken or left depending on your own tolerance (or enthusiasm) for joyful detritus: