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  • Writer's pictureRoy Thomas


During difficult times play has added importance.

My first large outdoor Halloween decoration.

Nearly 10 years ago, my Father in Law passed away, after a ten year battle with Parkinson's. I asked my grieving wife what I could do for her. "Decorate" was her response. Up until that time I wasn't inclined to do much decorating on the outside of the house. Make no mistake we did up the inside in a variety of festive and delightful ways and hosted an annual Christmas party that had become an annual tradition for many, but when it came to outside I had not done much. "What do you want I asked?", "I want to stop traffic". So I went to work and put together a 16' high 3000 light tree out front. Over the years since, that tree has been the center of our outdoor display, though its location and form varies from year to year. Within an hour of switching those lights on that first year, a car stopped right in front of the house to view the lights, for the first time in too long we were able to laugh together.

Some years the tree is on the upper deck other years it is in the front yard.

Having turned in our summer 2020 plans for local hikes and home repairs we still look forward to 2021 with anticipation, hoping to be able to travel and continue our adventures around the world. COVID19 leaves a big question mark over our plans and during what would be our planning season we are finding ourselves a bit discouraged. It is when discouragement sets in that it is important to remember the importance of play.

There is no shortage of research on the importance of play for children. This American Psychological Association article, for instance, The Serious Business of Play. But it is not just children who need play, we all do. The article states, "And play — for all members of the family — is especially important during the pandemic. '“We’re all under stress at this time, and play is an important catalyst to relieve stress,” ' Play for adults has gone mainstream even the New York Times joins into the fray with, How to Add More Play Into Your Grown-Up Life, Even Now. While it is easy right now to fall into lamenting over what we can't do, it is important to find ways to bring play into our lives. Even during the Depression people found unique ways to play.

As fall transitions into winter finding activities and outlets for play will become more and more important. For me, I have found myself playing through creating, especially repurposing the old into something new.

Recently I made this fun accent light out of an old camp stove, some aircraft lights, and repurposed taillight LEDs.

I made this bit of decorative art from leftover cedar and WWII Marsten mat.

Halloween is new territory for me. Last year was the first that I actually bought some decorations to add some seasonal whimsy. But this year I couldn't escape the voice inside whispering, "play".

So I pulled out some old line, a broken buoy, some electrical conduit, Christmas lights, and black spray paint.

For me, this type of play brings a two-fold reward. The first is in the creative, the second is in seeing others enjoy it.

Take time to decorate, play in the snow, have a meal with friends but most of all enjoy.

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