Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Halloween Decorating Police Game

I can’t believe it’s almost Halloween already. I mean that in more of a figurative way than a literal way. If I meant it literally, I’d be lying because the Halloween decorations began creeping into stores in early September and my neighbourhood has slowly become one long string of “who has the best fake cemetery” and “Who can hang the most ghosts, zombies, skeletons and Frankenstein’s Monsters from their porch.”

Also, there are the giant inflatables. I remember when they started popping up. It used to be just for Christmas. The first one I saw was pretty nifty- it was a giant snowglobe with a polar bear in it and a fan blew the snow around. Then they became more popular and there were trains with waving penguins and santas, reindeer popping out of presents and variations on the giant snowglobe theme.

Then, of course, they stopped being just for Christmas and giant Easter bunnies began cropping up. There were giant turkeys for Thanksgiving and, of course, the Halloween versions. The Halloween versions are actually exactly the same as the Christmas versions except there are ghosts and pumpkins instead of santas and reindeer. Oh, and they’re orange and black instead of green and red. I even saw the “Halloween on a train” inflatable yesterday. Do ghosts and ghouls really ride trains and wave at people? I think not.

I prefer the more gruesome Halloween decorations myself. Someone in my neighbourhood has decorated their cemetery as a crime scene. There are fake evidence numbers scattered around bloody body parts which seem to stick out of the ground. Naturally, I find this quite funny. Hey, if you haven’t figured out I’m a little dark and twisted yet, you clearly haven’t read enough of my blogs. I especially appreciate the touch that they have a decaying corpse watching over the entire scene and he looks disturbingly real.

I enjoy this time of year. It makes walking the pups in the evening even more fun. Our neighbourhood is clustered into batches. There are Those Who Decorate and Those Who Do Not Decorate. If one house decorates, those around it tend to at least place some token decorations outside. Then we’ll walk for a stretch into an area of Those Who Do Not Decorate. These are the boring houses. As daft as it sounds, I like to mentally grade houses on their efforts. It serves no purpose other than to allow myself a little extra amusement while the pups sniff and scamper their way on our walks.

My grading system is easy. A house gets points for efforts. If it’s a really well done decorating job, they get top marks. If they’ve at least made an effort, we take that into consideration. If not effort is made, they FAIL. Nothing much happens except I whisper to the pups that “We have a FAIL on our hands, girls!” They pay no attention to me because there are squirrels to chase and, frankly, when there are squirrels to be chased, a quirky ‘mother’/’owner’ is really not important enough to merit paying any attention.

I’m very generous with my points though. Even if a house has a mere single pumpkin on the porch, they get to scrape a ‘pass’ from me. I mean it’s something. We do take chrysanthemums into consideration too since they are a traditional autumn flower. If a house has a spectacular display of mums that was clearly planted with love and attention, we give them a pass. If they have a token dying chrysanthemum in their flower garden that’s clearly an afterthought, they don’t necessarily pass.

It’s a silly game but I enjoy it. One of my favourite houses is the one where the little old lady has a toy cat in the window and she dresses it in little outfits for the seasons. It has Easter bunny ears, an Uncle Sam hat and now it has a witches hat and cape. She also has a lovely display of Jack o’ Lanterns and some pretty mums. She gets high marks. It’s all about the effort and there’s bonus points for cuteness. I’m not a cat person but I adore her stuffed toy cat because you can tell she has fun with it and what’s life if you can’t have a little fun with it?

I also play the game at Christmas too although it’s usually a little colder and harder to linger. I like to grade the Christmas displays. I know that’s not politically correct because not everyone celebrates and there may be a reason there isn’t a shimmering display of Christmas lights out front but this is why I only grade the houses that do participate. Also, we grade on indoor decorations too so if there’s a particularly pretty tree inside the house but no outdoor decorations, it’s pretty obvious they’re celebrators of Chrismas and it’s ok to grade them.

I am aware that this is probably a peculiar habit and there’s absolutely no point at all. I have visualized forming a squad of Decorating Police but I think I’d be the only member and it would be rather odd to walk up to people and say, “By the way, your scarecrows are dirty and leaking straw. I think it’s time to get some new ones. Also, you have too many ghosts and not enough zombies.” It would be sort of entertaining but as I always say, I do like to keep up some attempt of normalcy with my neighbours.

Halloween is only the beginning. There will be some giant inflatable turkeys popping up over the next few weeks and they will soon be succeeded by all manner of holiday inflatables and lights. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to it. Walking with the dogs is always a nice way to get out and about but it’s even more fun when I can play Undercover Decorating Police.

Happy Wednesday!

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