Like Clark Griswold (a.k.a. Chevy Chase) in the National Lampoon movie, my husband, kids, and I love decorating for the holidays – both Halloween and Christmas.
Last night we put up our last strand of orange lights – and stood together on the sidewalk to enjoy a Griswold moment. My 12-year-old's attention to detail (getting all the Target pumpkin-face lights to face the street) paid off. A neighbor emailed: "Love your Halloween decorations!" Yay!
My kids like how decorations help them anticipate a holiday – whether it's Halloween or Christmas. "If you just celebrate that day, it doesn't seem as special," says my 12-year-old. With a festooned house, she feels more of a build up.
We consult with each other about what would create an ideal Halloween (or Christmas) display. How much is over the top? After all, we don't want to blind the neighbors or waste too much electricity.
"It could be too much if you do a lot of stuff that's just random – a blowup pumpkin in the middle of the yard and a scarecrow next to it," says my 12-year-old. Noted. She approves of the elaborate faux cemetery down the street. "It's all in the graveyard theme," she explains.
My 14-year-old dislikes gory exhibits. "Why make it look like you have dead bodies and cobwebs all around your house?" she says. "Use a test of whether you'd be pleased to find the real thing in your front yard."
Like my daughter, I don't want to frighten away any young trick or treaters. So we skip décor that might scare them. Even though we put up a scarecrow witch, we use a friendly one with a huge smile – and without a warty, crooked nose. And on the big night, we give out candy in a normal bowl, not one with a writhing hand in it.
So, what's the only downside to Halloween and Christmas decorating? As my 14-year-old notes, both holidays come at chilly times of the year. Still, my warmth-loving child is a huge fan of the final product. "When you come home, it's so pretty and nice and welcoming," she says. "And other people enjoy driving past houses that are decorated. You're doing something nice for everybody." (We use a timer for our lights.)
The whole process takes some time. My husband rummages around in the basement and attic to find our outdoor extension cords. And we inevitably wrap the strands of lights in the wrong direction the first time around so that we can't plug them into the socket. But even if we groan and moan, we think it's all worth it.
Our bottom line reason for decorating: "It's fun for the kids," says my husband. Indeed, this morning my 14-year-old declared, "I'm going to decorate my house when I grow up." Talk about a ringing endorsement.
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