October? I’ve Been In Fall Holiday Mode For Months


It’s finally October! Fall! And “winter,” as best we know it here in South Florida.

It’s funny how just turning a page of the calendar can have such an effect on me. Regardless of what the thermometer says, I feel cool. I get my sweaters out, adjust the air conditioner, move summer plantings to the backyard and replace them with yellow-orange things.

Of course, because I own a retail store, I have been enjoying “pre-fall” for months, by stocking and decorating with items my customers will soon want. In short, it’s time for “Hallothanxmas,” a term I invented as an excuse to put out all my Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise at once.

The Hallothanxmas transformation used to take place on Labor Day weekend, but now (following a trend primarily set by Cracker Barrel) it happens as early as August. I’ll spend a blissful few days lugging everything down from the attic while the store is open for business. Then, once it’s closed, I’ll crank up “Monster Mash” and get to work.

The first night, I relocate the lighthouses, shells, fish sculptures, buoys, boats and “To The Beach” signs from their summer home in the front of the store to another area off to the side. Once the front is empty, I drape it in black cheesecloth and bring in my skeletons, skulls, pumpkins, spiders, rats and headless dolls. This year, my theme is pulp fiction magazines and Frankenstein’s lab — lots of fake eyeballs, glass pharmacy jars, mortar and pestle sets. Sounds creepy, but it makes me happy. I spend months planning it out in my head, usually with a sinister smile on my face.

If my husband notices, he frowns and asks, “What are you thinking about?” and, because maybe the Fourth of July fireworks have just ended, I say, “Nothing.”

As soon as the Halloween room is finished, I start on Thanksgiving. Although there isn’t nearly as much cool stuff related to Thanksgiving, I’ll set a table with Hall’s Autumn Leaf tableware, crystal, silverware and top it off with sheaves of wheat and a little fenced-in “barnyard” containing a collection of turkey salt and pepper shakers. The shakers will sell immediately, leaving me with only wheat, but it is what it is. The Pilgrims should’ve been more creative.

In another room, I string twinkle lights, hang snowflakes and get the dark furniture out of there. In come white display cases, silver trees, gold bunting and all the backdrop folderol so crucial to putting my customers in a holiday mood a full five months before the actual holiday. I replace “Monster Mash” with any one of the 600 Christmas CDs we have lying around and start unpacking red-and-green everything.

By the end of the weekend, I’m exhausted but happy. The oohs and ahhs of customers give me a thrill. I watch as they systematically destroy each display by buying its key components, but the sound of the cash register steadily ringing makes it all right. Besides, I can now focus on decorating my own house.