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Halloween Disappointment

by Jay on November 1, 2009

Dear Alberta,
I’m so disappointed. We found our dream home, brand new, in a beautiful new neighborhood. About two weeks ago I started decorating for Halloween. Ira and I carved jack-o-lanterns for the front porch and I have a jangly plastic skeleton that I hang on the door and phony spider webs. On Saturday night I dressed up like a witch and Ira as a pirate. Nothing scary…just playful.

We had a big bowl of the best candy and were all ready to enjoy greeting all the children in their costumes. Alberta, nobody came. Not one ghost, zombie, nurse, cowboy, or pint sized football player! It was so sad. Then I realized nobody else had done any decorating. I don’t know many of the neighbors yet but I’ve seen kids riding around in the minivans that seem to be everywhere. Now I’m afraid we made a big faux pas at least or maybe we just got in the wrong neighborhood.   – Myrtle

Dear Myrtle, I bet you moved from a neighborhood where you had lived a long time and many of your neighbors had raised their kids there and most of you knew each other pretty well. Over the years the neighborhood customs kind of happen and you get all teary eyed about them. jacko

My daughter, Crystal…God love her, but she’s too much like her mother…told me the story about when she and Chunky (not his real name) her husband moved to a new suburb in Atlanta when he got a job with a bank down there. He ended up picking out the house in October while she stayed behind for her kids to finish the school semester. When they got there for the Christmas holidays, one of her neighbors clued her in to “that one” down the street who had the audacity to string red lights along the edge of the roof, phony icicles from the gutters, wreathes on all the windows and parked a life sized Santa with a sled and all his reindeer lit up on the front lawn.
It seems a gaggle of the local trendsetters had decided that white electric candles in the windows and a wreath on the door where the only acceptable outside Christmas decorations. Well, we never lived in a neighborhood like that and Crystal ended up teaming up with the pariah and a refugee from Cleveland and had an unofficial annual contest to see who could come up with the gaudiest Christmas decorations. The hilarious part is that the biggest rebel became Chunky, and he’s a Jew! It was tense for a year or so  but as people got to know each other it all became a joke and the neighborhood turned into a delightful place to live.

All is not lost, dears, just because nobody’s got the Halloween spirit in your brand new neighborhood. You are obviously generous people and the world will never have enough generous people. Christmas is coming up and somewhere in that town or even in the neighborhood, there are kids that will need a little extra love to get them through. Find them and share.

Mr. Z reminded me that this is a real estate blog and wants me to make the point that neighborhoods are not just a collection of houses with shopping and schools nearby. They all have their own character…and characters.

Well, duh, no kidding. He fancies himself enlightened, but even he doesn’t appreciate how difficult it is to know what you’re going to run into in a new neighborhood. Some of these agent types, especially the ones that are so into the internet, don’t appreciate what they take for granted. They might even live in a neighborhood, but if something doesn’t fit into one of the fields in the almighty MLS, they have no clue how to communicate it to you. (OK, Mr. Z, you try.)

If you can’t drag it out of them, check things out yourself. My IBM husband used to talk about “analysis paralysis” so don’t overdo it. Sometimes you have to move quickly or let somebody else do the research like Crystal had to do with Chunky.  But if you keep your eyes and ears open…you can usually tell.  If not…I think I’ve said this before…it’s usually easier to change houses than it is change spouses and that happens all the time.

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