Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seasonal decorations

'Tis the season for Halloween displays. Yesterday, on our way to a party at my friend Tim's house, we saw that his next-door neighbor had set up an elaborate graveyard scene in his yard, complete with an actual carriage driven by what appeared to be some sort of ghoul. We applauded this scene as being much more tastefully ghoulish than most of the ones in our neighborhood, which tend to feature strings of orange lights and/or large, illuminated, inflatable pumpkins and ghosts.

Me, I tend to go for simplicity. The first Friday in October, I head down to the farmers' market and pick up three miniature pumpkins, the kind they call "Jack-Be-Littles," for $2. I set out one pumpkin on each step of our front stoop, and there they stay, remaining seasonally appropriate until Thanksgiving. At that point, they go into the compost bin (I believe they're technically edible, but I don't care to eat them after the squirrels have nibbled at them) and we deck out the porch railings with white lights, red ribbons and a dollar's worth of trimmings from the local Christmas tree vendor. Simple, but seasonal and festive.

The thing is, I always find myself at a bit of a loss after the Yuletide decorations come down in January. I don't want to be one of those people who leaves them up until spring (actually, I find that really annoying, as if the folks are refusing to admit that Christmas is over). But at the same time, in those bleak months of January and February, when nothing is growing outside, the house does get to looking a bit bare. It seems like during those cold, dreary months in particular, it would be nice to have something to dress the place up and make it look more cheerful. But I want it to be something that's actually fitting to the season. It doesn't seem right to leave the holiday greenery up past its season, and it certainly doesn't seem right to dress the place up in spring pastels while the ground is frozen solid. Nor do I want to make a big deal out of Valentine's Day and drape everything with red and pink. That just seems like lending unnecessary dignity to a Hallmark holiday that basically exists purely for commercial purposes.

So what could I display that's both cheerful and seasonally appropriate? If only I had a holly tree in my yard, it would keep its red berries all winter and shed them in the spring all on its own. But for those who aren't blessed with one, and don't have the space to plant one, is there anything else to display that brightens up the landscape in a way suitable to the season, without either clinging to the ghost of Christmas past or trying to rush ahead to spring?
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