I’ve always decorated for the holidays. I guess I got the habit from my mom, who did her best to herald each season on a limited budget. Instead of buying strands of fake leaves to adorn our holiday table, she would take my sister and I out to scavenge for fallen, golden-orange leaves.
We’d walk together, my sister, mom, and I, pouncing on appropriate colored leaves like a cat pounces on a mouse. When we had a bagful, we’d go home and inspect our finds, throwing out the crinkled-beyond-salvation ones, or those that had broken. Once she had enough, my mom would stick them between the Yellow Pages (yes, they were big books back then) to flatten them. They would encircle our dining table centerpiece for Halloween, and then Thanksgiving.
I’ve bought the strands of fake leaves, mainly because we don’t have those types of trees in our area, and my husband anchored them around our front door. Since we don’t have little ones running around underfoot anymore, we plug in our jack-o-lanterns instead of carving them. Nevertheless, I think our front porch looks inviting for trick-or-treaters.
Decorations that I’ve owned for years make their reappearance, as well. Scarecrows, small bales of hay, and funny ghosts and black cats that my sons loved when they were little are dispersed in the living areas, too. They bring back memories of little hands placing them “just so” on tabletops or counters. Seeing these well-loved items lets me remember being a young mom who welcomed each season of the year with eagerness. I still do.
When my boys were five and two, my mom bought my first Department 56 “house.” It’s a lighted haunted house. My kids loved it, and still do, today. They’re arguing over who gets it when I’m gone, which seems highly morbid to me. I don’t plan on leaving this world any time soon.
We’ve added to the house over the years, with spooky trees, a skeleton on a swing, and even the Headless Horseman. It’s a fun little scene that family and visitors enjoy looking at. My husband and I do, too, commenting on it at night as we lounge in our chairs before the TV and fire.
From collecting leaves off city sidewalks, to attending posh holiday boutiques at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, CA, I’ve collected holiday decorations to cherish throughout my life. Even more importantly, I’ve gathered memories to hold close as my sons move forward with their lives. And, hopefully, they’ll remember what we did together when they were young and reenact it with their own families. That’s how traditions get started and passed on from generation to generation. And the Department 56 house debate? Maybe I’ll just go buy another one so there won’t be any bloodshed.
Do you do anything special for fall? I’d love to hear about it, so that maybe I can incorporate it.