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The Terrible, Awful, Frightening Task of Un-Decorating

Is there anything so wonderful as filling your home with pumpkins and garlands and witches’ brooms and spider webs that stick to everything? My boys (and I) love decorating to the nines for Halloween. What we don’t love, and rarely do before Thanksgiving: taking it all down.

We get really into Halloween at my house. This is partially because it’s my youngest son’s birthday, and partially because it’s my other sons’ favorite holiday. I’ve come around on it, and with their prodding, over the years, we’ve amassed a substantial trove of decorations.

Handmade garlands of spooky pumpkins drape over doorways. Cotton cobwebs, liberally sprinkled with spiders, crowd into the corners. Ripped cheesecloth drapes over shelves and curtain rods. Bookshelves feature skulls and homemade bats and popsicle stick haunted houses — plus pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins. Our table linens feature friendly ghosts and dancing skeletons. Table runners. Placemats. Door covers. Flags.

It takes two days or so to put everything up.

Then I have to buy real pumpkins.

Then we have to remember to carve them. We usually put this off and put this off and put this off because we’re afraid the Jack o’ Lanterns will rot, and then it’s Halloween night and we have no Jack o’ Lanterns and, yes, we have carved them on November 1 many times and only God can judge me because we had to go trick or treating.

[Free Download: How to Prioritize This Holiday Season]

But even as I put up the decorations, my heart is sinking. Because, though I know the kids love them, I also know I will have to take them down. This part is not fun. This part is not exciting. No one sits around and claps as you untangle cobwebs and cut down cheesecloth and repack Rubbermaid tubs full of spiders. So we put it off because we all have ADHD and we don’t like to do tasks that don’t hold our attention.

The skulls take on a more sinister, more mocking look as we near Thanksgiving. We ignore them.

The door cover rips and flaps in the chilled breeze. It would be easy to take it off, but, well… ADHD. We are the shame of the neighborhood. The pumpkins collapse into hideous moldy monsters that you could kick a sneaker into (my kids do, then yell about the mess).

Soon, it’s mid-November, and we look like we’re still awaiting for trick-or-treaters. The neighbors are putting up Thanksgiving decorations. I have those, at least a few of them. I want to put them up. I can’t, because it’s Halloween up in here, You can’t mix the two. It would be like mixing Christmas with Easter. (Don’t think we haven’t done that. We have.)

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But one year, I put my foot down. The spiderwebs, because I am not taking the time to unravel and carefully store them, went in the trash. Wails ensued. Still, I ripped them down, along with the cheesecloth, and stuffed them into garbage bags. It felt good. A few days later, I tore down the wall stickies on our doors — the Bubble bubble toil and trouble I got from Target, the Happy Halloween!

These are the easy parts. It took me another week, the week of Thanksgiving, until I finally started packing things into tubs. The tubs, which had been living in my garage, had real-life spiders taking up residence in them. I figured they added to the spooky ambiance as I tossed in skulls and (fake) spiders. I rounded up the light-up pumpkins and the garlands and the Halloween tree.

Finally, I was down to artwork. It took me some time to lay it all out, make sure it was dated, and store it safely so it wouldn’t get ruined. Then I had to store all the things I bought on clearance after Halloween ended, because who doesn’t love a good sale?

It’s exhausting. I’m was exhausted. I laid out my Thanksgiving decorations — on the day before Turkey Day — but still those stupid Halloween boxes waited for a boost up into the attic.

Maybe when we bring the Christmas decorations down, I thought. And we all know how that story ends.

[Un-Decorating for the Holidays]