Boo! Inc

I’m getting confused by the blending of seasons these days. Perhaps I’m just turning into more of an old fart or something, but I can remember when traditions, candies and decorations had their distinct seasons, and Christmas decorations didn’t appear on the shelves next to Halloween candy, Halloween candies didn’t look like Easter candies (Halloween Peeps, anyone?) and Christmas decorations didn’t masquerade as Halloween d퀌�cor.

For example, about three years ago, Halloween took on a new face in my part of Portland. House decorations, formerly limited to pumpkins, assorted scarecrows and witches, sedate pictures, and window stick-ons began to resemble Christmas decorations in amount, complexity and wattage. Yard decorations expanded past prosaic jack o’ lantern leaf bags. Pumpkin carving took on new levels of elaborate sculpting. Candelarias sprouted up like mushrooms, marking the Martha Stewart followers in the neighborhoods.

The first place to sprout Halloween lights featured a fascinating blend of psychedelic neon that would have made a ’60s lightshow seem tame and would have sent the aforementioned Ms. Stewart reeling in fear. It was delightfully bright, weird and fun. I couldn’t help but admire the sheer visual creativity it took to put that set of lights together. Unfortunately, that was the year my teenage son decided he was too old for Halloween, so I didn’t investigate what sort of Halloween treats that house offered. I also wondered what lay ahead, and hoped for more in the same vein.

Alas, Martha struck instead. The next year, the psychedelic house never donned its lights, while others in the neighborhood sported tasteful Christmas-type lights in Halloween colors. Humorous faux gravestones with appropriate mounds popped up in several yards.

But wait! That wasn’t all. The next year saw the arrival of lighted bones scattered around the lawns. Two houses in Eastmoreland began competing for the most elaborate depiction of faux skeletons climbing out of faux graves, with upgrades every weekend. Ghoulish sounds began issuing from the faux skeletons when hapless victims walked by after dark.

The bone count began to resemble those on Disney rides. Halloween, while not advancing in the shopping year to the degree that Christmas has, was becoming yet another Major Decorating Holiday.

This year, sections of Portland at Halloween now resemble Peacock Lane at Christmas time. Larger-than-life balloon figures have advanced as the newest addition to the competitive Halloween decorating frenzy. I spotted the first set over off of Division Avenue after leaving a party in early October – this one featuring Peanuts cartoon characters along with a massive pumpkin. Hokey. That was interesting. Peanuts was followed by the discovery of stacks of pumpkins, ghosts and a massive Scooby-Doo cartoon character in Eastmoreland.

The blending of seasonal items came home to me this year when my significant other brought home Halloween Peeps for those of us in the house who can’t eat nuts, dairy or other dietary weirdness. Unlike the neon colors of Easter Peeps chicks, Halloween Peeps sedately come in chocolate bats, white ghosts and orange pumpkins.

Somehow, it’s not the same.

Ah well. Ultimately the whole round of seasonal holidays will come to resemble one long collage of sugary treats, bright lights, elaborate fooforaws and licensed character balloons, all done in tasteful seasonal colors. If it’s pink and purple, it must be Easter. And wait! Look at that tasteful balloon manger scene featuring Disney’s latest and greatest feature film cartoon character as Baby Jesus. Soon we’ll have Fourth of July faux snowfalls with Real Soap Snowflakes in red, white and blue while fireworks scream and burst overhead. Meanwhile Martha Stewart and her horde of clones will fiercely whip up yet more cloned crafty candelarias appropriate for all occasions. And if we happen to fall in a two-month marketing period without a holiday to sell, maybe one of those Hallmark marketing experts will figure out how to decorate up another, quieter holiday.

Mother’s Day yard decorations, anyone?