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Why I'm Trying So Hard With the Seasonal Décor

Photograph by Twenty20

I've become that lady, you know the one. She lives on your street and meticulously changes out her decorations for every season, every holiday.

Maybe you've wondered how she does it, where she finds the time to put out the decorations on time, to remember which season is current. How does she remember where she stored all this crap during the off-season?

She's ripe for parody, a punchline, ridiculous. And this year, I'm determined to become her.

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I don't actually like the look of door wreaths, and candles scare me a little. But I want to be Seasonal Décor Lady, because I am convinced—the evidence is so obvious!—that she has all her shit together.

I have exactly none of my stuff in order, home dec or otherwise. I'm lucky if I shower more than three times per week and change clothes every other day. I can't remember to switch the laundry over, so they always end up with that mildewy smell, meaning and I have to wash them again. (And again.)

I have killed all our nice plants and landscaping, I can't remember to water them. My kid wore pajamas to Target today. It was just after 11 a.m. That's the ugly truth of the real me. And I'm only slightly ashamed of it.

And, hey, maybe looking like I have my shit together will result in kind of feeling like I have my shit together.

The ideal me, though? Well, her home looks like it came out of a quirky version of a Pottery Barn catalog. She's a bargain shopper who finds treasures on Craigslist and fixes them up. Her entire home is Pinterest-worthy (and not in the #pinterestfails kind of way). She has area rugs, because her dog hasn't peed all over everything.

She puts real pants on every day and makes dinner for her family. And, most of all, she seasonally decorates her home.

Her fine aesthetic keeps her from the garish decorations in other homes in her neighborhood. She curates her space from a collection of classy items, ones that look as if they came from West Elm—a simple $800 pinecone display, for example.

Since having a kid, it's clear to me that I am drifting even farther away from my ideal self. So this year, I decided to take a concrete step toward my goal. The area rugs were out of the question (still living with Sir Pees-A-Lot), and wearing real pants felt way too lofty. But seasonal decorations! Now that seemed perfect. Not only would it look really good to the rest of the neighborhood, it would start to teach my daughter about seasons and holidays and craftsmanship and stuff.

In truth, I want our home to be a place my daughter is proud to claim as her own. I want to introduce her to traditions, rooted in both American culture and our Jewish religion. When she's older, I want her to help me put the decorations up as we prepare, together, for the next season. And it's educational!

"What happens in the spring?" I'll ask her. "What do we have to look forward to then?"

So while I'm buying up décor from Christmas Tree Shops for purely superficial reasons, it turns out I'm trying to do more than simply keeping up with the Joneses.

"This is a Halloween wreath," I'll say, working twine around gourds stuffed into a ring of twigs. "What can you tell me about that holiday?"

I want to help my daughter feel connected to the world we live in and the Earth we live on by commemorating and celebrating the seasons in (and on) our house.

And it's working. Every time we come home, she points to the wreath on the door. "Ooooh," she says before asking to touch it.

She loved the turkey I displayed on our dining room credenza during the month of November, which is how she learned to say "Gobble." And since we don't celebrate Christmas, I found a nice wreath made of pinecones and burlap to signify the winter season. She notices each time I change it out. As she gets older, my hope is that these simple gestures will help her feel grounded in the world and connected to our home.

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So while I'm buying up décor from Christmas Tree Shops for purely superficial reasons, it turns out I'm trying to do more than simply keeping up with the Joneses. On the one hand, if I can fool the world into thinking I'm super organized and in control by changing the wreath on my front door every three months, all the better.

And, hey, maybe looking like I have my shit together will result in kind of feeling like I have my shit together. At the end of the day, my pride is secondary to the fact that seasonal accessories for my home can end up creating a tradition and sense of coziness for my family. Now, in an effort actually have my shit together, all I have to do is remember to take them down.

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