September 13, 2011 — Get up. Stare in determination at the bland expanses of our interior walls, which are adorned only by the random empty nail, scuff mark, or smashed bug. We like to characterize the décor style as avant-garde.
It’s D-Day. Decoration Day. Deathoration Day. The starting line of the Halloween season. Halloween doesn’t begin until you decorate, but fortunately decorate is a word with a wide definition. And we exploit it.
Step One. Delve deep in the abyssal basement. Our pearls? Limp, mildewy boxes full of pumpkins and Autumn wreaths and witches and skeletons and ghosts, black cats, bats, ravens. Plastic things that go clack in the night. A plush Christmas Smurf. How’d that get in there?
This goes here. That goes there. What the heck do we do with this? Lots of decisions to make that, in the moment, we think will be the deciding factor of the success of our Autumn. Truth is, the end result always looks great, even if we just leave all the decorations strewn across the floor where they fell when the damp bottoms of the boxes fell out. We’re looking for ambiance, not a magazine spread.
The cheap raven perches on top of the TV. The witch broom leans against the fireplace. Crooked lamp post goes in the corner. Can’t believe I’ve held onto these sealed mini-cans of Halloween-themed Jones soda for so many years. Let’s nix the fake spider webs this year. The stuff is hard to use, hard to make look right, and annoying to take down.
We marvel at our oldest decoration, a rubber bat that I’ve had since just a few years from infancy. You can still see the pin holes in each wing from the year we snaked tine through them to hang the bat from the ceiling for that family Halloween party when I was four. Some of the decorations are yard sale finds and have partied with other families at other Halloweens. Welcome aboard, tombstone ghoul. You’ll like it here. Even the books on the shelves get replaced by spooky tomes. Candy dishes everywhere, of course. Need to start filling those, buying larger pants.
Halfway through. Look out the window. Bright, shiny, summery. An outside kind of day. Slight panic. Push through the uncomfortable sensation that we pulled the trigger on this season a bit too early and will be laughed at by the visitors we never have. The past week has been rainy, the nights cold, the commercials advertising pumpkin versions of everything edible. However, with our luck the last skull placed just so-so on the mantelpiece will summon a September heat wave.
A felt-covered plastic spider on the side table that we’ll brush our hands against every time we reach for the remote, and…finally…done. We step back to appreciate our work and the context for our next month and a half. The walls live with death. Now, we can be happy that the days our shortening, since that means more darkness in which to enjoy the glows of candles burning candy corn-scented wax and eerily colored LEDs secreted in skulls and jack-o-lanterns and in the eyes of various creatures of the night.
Eventually, the aforementioned night falls. We pick it up.
Last step. We hit every tiny On switch. Light everything that’s flammable. Collapse into the couch with an Autumn spice martini and something spooky on the television, the orange glow of Halloween all around, and the lidless eyes of a couple dozen spooks staring at our cocktails in jealousy. The dead can’t get drunk.