Friday, October 26, 2012

The Decoration Conundrum

Just last night my wife and I were trying to explain to the little guy that Halloween is, in fact, a specific day. As is often the case, the need for explanation arose because the little guy was insisting on things which were patently untrue, namely that Halloween was an entire month. So we were trying to set him straight not because we have a fierce desire to be acknowledged as correct when the facts or on our side (although, honestly, that is more or less true) but because we recognized the urgent need to manage expectations. The little guy is going to dress up and go trick-or-treating once, and that’s it, and he’d better be prepared to make the most of it. (He picked out a Captain America costume, though, and to be fair if he wants to wear it again and again after Halloween I obviously do not have a problem with that.)

Anyway, I think we succeeded in getting him to accept the reality of the calendar, but it did occur to me that Halloween is in some ways a season as much as it is a single date. I’ve already mentioned my current ongoing horror movie crawl, and various tv series have been airing their Halloween episodes already. It’s not quite Christmas season, in overall length or intensity, but it’s definitely A Thing.

You wouldn’t know that to look at or around our house, though. Well, okay, you might if you looked really hard, and saw the ghost-shaped votive holders on the kitchen counter, semi-obscured by a couple weeks’ worth of unsorted mail. We have some gourds in a bowl on the kitchen table, and a pumpkin the little guy picked on his big school field trip to a farm, but those are more symbols of the autumn harvest than Halloween specifically. There are no cardboard skeletons or black cats hanging on the walls of our house, no strings of LEDs ensconced in plastic candy corns, no rubber bats and rats. We don’t have fake cobwebs festooning our front stoop, or the back half of a broomstick-riding witch hilarious smashed into one of our exterior walls. We probably won’t even have a jack-o-lantern.

There’s a pretty simple reason for this, and it’s not even the boilerplate “we-have-two-small-children-who-wear-us-out-get-off-our-backs-GEEZ that I’m usually wont to deploy. It’s simply the avoidance of false advertising. Decorating your house or yard with fake tombstones and giant spiders and scarecrows and whatnot is essentially neighborhood code for “Candy will be handed out here on the 31st!” And for us that wouldn’t be true, because we’ll be over at my buddy Clutch’s house during trick-or-treat hours on Halloween, and won’t get back until after the doorbell-ringing window has pretty much closed. I’ve been living in my neighborhood for three years now and I have no idea if lots of trick-or-treaters come through or hardly any. I do know that none of the other houses on the cul-de-sac have done much Halloween decorating at all, so at least we’re not sticking out like the party poopers of the block.

But I love Halloween, and over-the-top house and yard displays could easily be part of my overall enjoyment of this time of year. Maybe someday they will be. And it makes perfect sense that they aren’t right now, but it’s just one of those things that makes me wish I could be in two places at once. Still, since I can’t and must choose, I’m looking forward to seeing my kids enjoy the night for as long as they can stand it.

(Incidentally, my daughter will be costumed as a chicken. Or, as I have been thinking of it, my kids will be heading out as Captain America and his sidechick Clucky. +5 geek points if that is the best pun you’ve heard all day.)

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