Once upon a time, in a duck-stenciled kitchen in a country house, a woman named Bev decided that she was going to make the holidays extra festive. She hung mistletoe and garland and threaded popcorn on the tree, and her toddler daughter was delighted. So the next year, she decided to add some carolers to the mantle. Oh, and she decided to make a mantle.
Year after year, the carolers multiplied. Soon there was a caroling cat and a flickering old-fashion lantern and an entire Christmas town that featured fake snow and lit up. Christmas became such a magical time of year that the rest of the seasons just didn’t seem to measure up. So Bev decided to spice up Halloween with jack-o-lanterns and witches and glittery black cats. Thanksgiving featured some kind of harvest spilling out of a horn, and Easter was a sea of pastel and bunnies and duckies and springtime dew. Even the 4th of July became a Patriotic puke of red-white-and-blue.
You gotta hand it to my mom: she sure knows how to holiday.
When I moved away to New York City, I shared a 500 square-foot space with three other girls, one of which was Jewish. Needless to say, we didn’t give much thought to decorating for the holidays…mostly because our counter space was entirely occupied by things that we needed to function. Still, Bev couldn’t help herself. She mailed me my first antique Santa on a sled when I was 20 years old. It stayed in the box under my bed.
Post college, I had a little more room to spread out, but I was a broke 22-year-old with no extra cash for decorating. Halloween meant wearing something slutty, getting drunk, and watching the gays parade around Greenwich Village. New York City was so beautifully decorated for Christmas that there was really no need to do anything in my apartment except hang a couple glass balls off a Charlie Brown tree. Easter? I sort of forgot about it.
My best friend Shauna and I used to chuckle at our moms for their total embrace of seasonal decor, and how they always seemed to bring us offerings in an attempt to get us to catch their holiday spirit. They were like cats leaving dead birds at our doorstep, only the birds were heavy porcelain Christmas tree ornaments engraved with our names.
When I became a mom, the holidays took on new meaning. I could see them through the eyes of a child again! How magical! Only Lucas wasn’t even a year old for his first Christmas. We could have decorated for Dia de los Muertos for all he cared.
As my son grew, however, and started to “get” what the holidays were about, I found myself feeling guilty that my house wasn’t the magical seasonal wonderland that the Garofoli casa was during my childhood. Christmas has now grown from a tree and some stockings to outdoor chunky colored lights, a Jesus manger featuring Obi-wan Kanobe, various nutcrackers, wreaths, and poinsettias, and vintage Christmas trees made in pottery class in the 70s.
Still, while Christmas decorating has become an Olympic event in which I turn on the Bing Crosby and yell at my son to stop dropping fragile shit on the floor, I just can’t seem to get it up for the other holidays. I see people with their autumn foliage flags and I’m like…it’s still 80 degrees outside. Why?
Still, in an effort to pretend to give a shit, I put out a sad pumpkin and scarecrow on my mantle this year. It’s almost worse than having nothing. Behold, my Halloween decorations, in their entirety:
I never thought I’d embrace seasonal decor as an adult, but now I’m feeling the PTA pressure to make something happen. Should I put my mantle decorations away and focus on making half-baked Halloween costumes that are bound to be Pinterest fails? Or should I go full Bev and resign myself to a house full of glitter for the next four months?