Skeletons in the Closet


I am having difficulty restraining myself.  Before having Jake, I WAS NOT a go-all-out-and-decorate-the-house-from-top-to-bottom-for-the-holidays type of person.  The thought of it was always too exhausting.  In retrospect, it was probably in response to the way my family handled decorating.

Every year, my Grandma Ann would decorate her place for the holidays.  We’re talking paper turkeys hanging on her front door, 5-10 mini ceramic and faux trees with colorful lights for Christmas, heart streamers around Valentine’s Day, and even leprechauns for St. Patty’s Day, even though she is most decidedly 100% Italian.  The most interesting thing about my grandmother’s decorating is her impatience in the matter.   She decorates as soon as the previous holiday has passed.  And in her mind, the previous holiday passes the day before it actually takes place.  That means that her Christmas tree is sitting in Eddie’s trunk on Christmas Eve**, the cupids are in the trash on February 13, and the turkeys have been replaced by baby Jesus by Thanksgiving morning.  Her dedication to the ritual is astounding, really.  But it might have had some sort of negative effect on me, since I didn’t really get the excessive decorating gene.  Sure, I love a tree at Christmastime, but I need only one.  (Adam, my Jewish husband, hates Christmas trees.  He says that Jews don’t like to decorate – a generalization that I have a hard time believing.  We held extensive negotiations while dating that resulted in him conceding to an annual Douglas Fir…)

I now fear my habits are about to change drastically.  I was recently browsing in an art and hobbies supplies store (a.k.a. repeating the mantra “You don’t need anything here.  You don’t need anything here”), and I came upon the Halloween decorations.  I immediately had a visceral need to adorn our apartment in fake cobwebs, skeletons and pumpkins.  Our apartment can’t fit another Jack-in-the-Box, let alone a skeleton.  But all I wanted to do was make Halloween special and exciting for my son.  The idea of it excited me.  In the same way that my husband and I experienced the zoo through our son’s eyes, I felt myself getting giddy about the holidays the way only a kid can.  The wonder and mystery and the delight of it all was palpable.

Jake is only 1 now, and wouldn’t know what to do with a scarecrow if I gave it to him.  But soon enough he’ll be at an age where he can appreciate such things, and we’ll be moving to a house (with space for skeletons!).  And I cannot wait to unload my box of Halloween decorations at the first crisp sign of fall.  (And then unload the turkeys on November 1, and then the Christmas lights after that…)  Unlike my grandmother, though, I will wait until the holiday is over before relegating its ornaments to the basement for another year.  All of this to the chagrin of my husband.

**My grandmother had a 90 year-old boyfriend, named Eddie.  She stored her fake Christmas tree in the trunk of his car for about 20 years.  He wasn’t ever allowed to use his trunk to transport or hold anything else.  (With the exception of the month or so when the tree was actually up in their living room.)

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