The Week Before An ode to the week of peak Halloween

Being a Halloween fanatic can feel a little lonely sometimes. When you’re playing the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, and wearing T-shirts with jack o’ lanterns on them, and putting spider webs on your furniture in early September, people can get a little judge-y. I have, in past years, found myself trying to browse through a Spirit Halloween store as workers were literally unpacking boxes and stocking the shelves. “What”, they will think, “is with you and Halloween?” Even when October first arrives, you’ll find people who aren’t “ready” for it to be Halloween yet. They’ll lament about not having any good costume ideas yet. And in my part of the country, it’s probably still close to 100 degrees during the day.

But by the time this week rolls around… this, the last week of October leading up to Halloween day (Phase III), the rest of the world is FINALLY on the same page. Anyone who would dare to decorate for the occasion has pretty much done so by now. It’s delightful to be proven wrong, when I begin to worry that my neighborhood is losing Halloween spirit and fewer homes are decorated, to reach this final week and see orange and purple lights glowing along rooflines. In fact I would deign to say that neighborhood participation in Halloween decorating might match Christmas where I live. You may have to look more closely, but look at any house and there’s roughly a 50/50 chance there’ll at least be a paper skeleton in the window.

Businesses are in the mix too. The other night I went to pick up takeout at a local Mexican food restaurant and THEY were all Halloweened out. Not just a few spider webs in the lobby either – Halloween decorations were displayed throughout and they were advertising something called “Halloween party trays”, whatever those are. The nursery nearby had been turned into a pumpkin patch. Even the Fry’s Electronics – a store that has no reason to be festive for this holiday – has put a ludicrous amount of effort to turn their consumer electronics megaplex into a spooky place.

Right now, I can wear my whole selection of horror and Halloween-themed T-shirts out in public and feel like part of the larger community. Not that I need that (obviously), but it’s a nice feeling of validation.

For the past few years, the last week of October has been far too hectic and busy for me to appreciate any of this, but for the first time in a while, I’m paying closer attention. No matter how much time I spend “celebrating” Halloween in my own way, it is ultimately just a single day. That makes it both special and tragically fleeting. But if you can observe it for even a week, it’s pretty rewarding. This is the week to do it.

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