We stood in the graveyard; my husband, his parents, my three kids and me, looking out onto the crop of scattered, moss covered tombstones. The headstones were surrounded on one side by a black, gothic iron fence.

Shivering, I pulled my sweater tighter around me. Then I bent down to adjust a section of leaning fence.

“Leave it,” Chris said. “It’s better that way.”

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Chris piled the last of the dirt onto the mound and spread the soil evenly across an area he had outlined with large fieldstones. The sight of three freshly dug graves under the darkening sky added to the haunting feeling that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

We all stopped talking and stood still, taking in the somberness of it all.

Chris brushed the loose dirt off the front of his jeans. “Well, I want to get this finished before nightfall,” he said with a hard sigh.

“You did a lot of digging,” I nodded.

My eyes scanned the eerie landscape and settled on a skeleton, its skull partially exposed in the piled dirt.  I gazed at the desperate arm reaching out and the bony knees, drawn.  A headstone glinting in the spotlight marked a dead person’s life:Fester N Rot, RIP.

It filled me with joy.

“It works!” Chris shouted. In his hand, he held a remote control. I heard a spraying sound. A fog rose above the tombstones and consumed us. The vapor created by our fog machine lent just the right touch.

This, of course, was no historic graveyard. This year, for Halloween, we gave ourselves permission to explore our darker side.  We moved beyond fake spider webs and carved pumpkins and went full strength, all-out creepy with fake headstone props and freshly dug “graves” which, next summer, will double as garden plots.

With the help of my in-laws, my family created a grim and gruesome graveyard scene on our front lawn, replete with controlled weather elements.

Sometimes all it takes is some haunted graves and severed skeletons to bring a family together.


When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her weekly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola