Depressed by Halloween Décor

October 1, 2016 — Living Dead Room. Our Halloweenest Halloween Nest. Stretching Out on a Death Bed. Time to Deathorate. Halloween D-Day. I don’t know how I’ve managed over the years to wring so many posts out of the mere act of decorating our living room for the Halloween Season. I probably shouldn’t have tried to waste your time by writing about our walls and shelves again, but it’s such an integral part of the season that not to document that very first day of the season feels like, I don’t know, turning on the television 1.7 seconds into an Usain Bolt sprint. A big part of it would’ve be missed.

So here we go again. But 10% more honest this time.

I always portray the nights we decorate the living room as some kind of carefree ritual of dark magic, a transformative act resulting in an ultimate Halloween place to hide. And it’s no hyperbole. All those things are truer than my meager words. But what I’ve never admitted to is that to get to that point, I have to go through a bummer of a mental stage.

It starts when I wander the stores in late August and early September, seeing all the new Halloween decorations out. I love it all, so how do I decide what to buy and what to leave for somebody else? Should I wait to see what else comes out first? Will I have to throw out old decorations to make room for the new? I mean, there’s only so many jack-o-lanterns and skeletons that my living room can take (although it can take a lot).

The depression’s not there at that point, but it is starting to burble.

Then, either the night we start decorating or perhaps during some prep the day before, I descend into the dungeon of our basement, close my eyes past the Christmas in its green bins like a squatting Medusa waiting to turn me to stone, and end up at the half a dozen orang plastic bins that hold our Halloween…and hopeful have protected it from mold over the past year.

That’s when it starts to burble louder.

After multiple trips lugging the bins up the stairs, we tear through them, laying out what we find, feeling pangs of nostalgia over longheld pieces, shots of surprise from pieces we’d forgotten about, quivers of anticipation over newly purchased items, and dips of disappointment over items that just didn’t survive the damp or were crushed under other pieces. Often that latter is the fault of a Halloween soda that I foolishly archived.

And there it all is, the decorations strewn about on our hardwood, waiting to join the party.

And there it all is, that depression. I sink into the couch and just gaze despondently at the decorations.

I don’t know where to put everything. No, that’s not entirely accurate. I don’t know where to put everything in the exact right place to amplify Halloween. I start noticing our lack of horizontal spaces in the room and all the pieces that need to sit on horizontal spaces. I see all the pieces whose lights have burned out and which aren’t meant to be replaced. I see that we have too many of one kind of decoration and not enough of another.

I don’t see the potential of the decorations, scattered on the floor like some kind of indoor yard sale, a theme-less mash of tchotchkes.

I go from sitting on the couch, to lying down on it.

A lot is at stake. The living room is our world during the Halloween Season. The place where we spend the most time. The place we look forward to the most out of all of our Autumn road trips and activities and experiences. It needs to be perfect, my brain tells me, else the season won’t be perfect.

And we’re probably decorating too early anyway. What if somebody comes over?

Now, I wouldn’t have those two thoughts under normal, mentally strong conditions. I love decorating early. And nobody ever comes over. I have to sweet talk my mail person to even mount the three steps of our porch. But I’m pretty vulnerable lying there on the couch, two feet above a morass of ghosts and witches and autumn leaves.

Meanwhile, Lindsey’s excitement doesn’t abate. All she sees is potential. Except for the lumpy, morose thing reclining on the couch. No potential there. Plus, she knows with a cement certainty that what happens next always happens.

The dark magic happens next.

Almost of their own accord, each decoration finds its spot. The garland wraps itself around the staircase bannister. The ceramic skeletons clink their way onto the shelves. The plastic pumpkins roll in front of the fireplace, their viney cords and plugs finding the sockets on their own. The new pieces we’ve bought slide effortlessly among the old like Martha Stewart designed them all at the same time. And then, the final touch, the scented candles flare and fill the empty spaces in between the black and the orange.

And suddenly, Halloween, is here. Not caring what decorations invoked it. Or where they are in the room. Or what month it is. It’s just there, ready to throw a jack-o-lantern at you across a covered bridge or jump out of a closet with a cheap mask on or lead you into a cornfield maze and ditch you to find your own way out.

It always works out. It’s always wonderful. And I always doubt it until the exact moment it happens.