It’s October and pumpkins are lining up on porches, plastic tombstones are sprouting on lawns, and mechanical witches with glowing green eyes are taking up residence on windowsills in my neighborhood. The Halloween decorating has begun! This can be fun and charming (or gross and troubling) depending on the house, and I’ve noticed that people’s choices of Halloween decorations unknowingly say a lot about them.
5. If you decorate at all, in even the slightest way, you are a cool person.
I think about 25% of the homes around me decorate for Halloween. I wish it was more (or, maybe I don’t, if “more” means there would be more of the bad houses in addition to more of the really charming decorating efforts). If you take the time and effort and go to the expense of decorating for Halloween in any way, I think that says something about how you are a person who wants to engage with your neighbors. You could have just skipped decorating and kept your house blank. The fact that you wanted to be noticed and you wanted to engage means you are approachable. You don’t just want to be left alone and to have people ignore you.
4. Homemade decorations crafted from construction paper and fabrics you’ve sewn and gourds, hand-dusted with glitter, tell me you are a creative person.
You’re totally someone I want to know. When I walk by your house and see a gorgeous fall wreath with shimmering orange, purple, green, and black fabric and a riot of fall leaves and spooky plastic bats and spiders, I think about knocking on your door and introducing myself and seeing if our kids can play together. Or maybe we could sit together on your porch (festooned as it is with smiling hand-carved jack-o-lanterns) perusing my Martha Stewart Halloween magazine and gabbing over pumpkin spice latte. I want you to be my new BFF.
3. Retro plastic ghosts, witches, black cats and bats hanging in your windows (the same ones that I saw all over the place when I was a kid)…
These things tell me that you have either lived in your house for many decades (and you are probably my parents’ age, with grown children my age) or you’re a hipster couple rediscovering these really cool decorations that were super popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. All over the country, people have these. You can’t buy them in stores anymore, but you can find them on eBay or sometimes at thrift stores. They were made with melted plastic popcorn and had a fun texture to them. They were made to be hung in a window, with the shade drawn behind them. I smile every time I see one because I think of being eight or nine and walking home from school, kicking through piles of leaves, waving at the smiling people whose houses had these super cute decorations way back when. If you’re someone who still has them now, I feel like you’re either an older person who really takes great care of your things or a young person who loves history and celebrating nostalgia. Either way, I am glad you are my neighbor.
2. If you are one of the houses with the severed heads, the blood and gore, and the disemboweled zombies and corpses strewn about…
I walk by your house and think this is all a giant cry for help. I hope the police, when they drive on patrol, make a note that yours is a house to check first whenever children are missing or something horrible has happened to someone. You actually went to a store and spent money buying horrifically gruesome things to place around your home, because you enjoy coming home to a place that looks like a serial killer lives there. I worry about you. Does it bother you at all that little children who have never even heard of murder are going to walk by that on Halloween? Do you enjoy terrorizing babies? Do you know that my kids have nightmares after seeing that? WTF is wrong with you? There’s a house in my neighborhood that actually hangs babies from trees. Lifelike baby dolls, naked, hanging from nooses in the trees. This is sick. If you do this, you need help.
1. Elaborate displays, with a new theme every year, which took a massive amount of effort to put together.
There’s usually only one of you in a neighborhood, or even a town. You are Mr. Halloween (with maybe a Mrs. Halloween agreeable to what you are doing, but it’s always a man who is the driving force behind it, never a single woman or a wife flying solo with these kinds of extensive productions). God love you. One year, you’ll stage an Egyptian mummy’s tomb in your front yard, complete with a mummy case — and you’ll hide inside, wrapped in bandages all Halloween night to playfully scare the trick-or-treaters. The next year, you’ll construct a real pirate ship and be Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm with a fog machine, animatronic pirates complete with talking parrots and strobe lights. I love you! I imagine you are a drama teacher, a set designer, a graphic artist, or someone else in a creative field. You absolutely blow me away. Keep it up!