The Mama Vault – #6 DIARY OF A HALLOWEEN HACK
All of us go totally “bah humbug” over something.
Listen to me. One would be hard pressed to top my festivity for birthdays, July Fourth, Christmas and Thanksgiving—really most every single celebration I am one giant bundle of cheer and laughter and fun—but can we talk Halloween for half a second?
I’m going to give it to you straight up.
Love the candy, hate the costumes. Okay I know hate is a strong word, but it’s costumes, people. Costumes. May I hate them, please?
It was a conundrum every single October—how could it be delightful when it was dreadful to me. Every year, same dilemma. Without fail.
Let me rephrase. It wasn’t the costumes themselves I disliked for all the years my kids played Halloween, it was having to come up with ideas. If you designed it, I could go nuts for the originality of it all. If I had to design it, Houston you know we had a problem.
It was a time long before Pinterest—when mamas were left completely to their own devices to come up with knockout, award-winning costumes.
I outfitted one to three kids for roughly seventeen Halloweens. They graduated out of my program at age eleven, when the success or failure of their costumes became their own bag of rocks to carry.
It had nothing to do with wanting to abolish the festivities. I’m no killer of fun. Ask anyone who knows me. It simply boiled down to this.
I never ever liked wearing costumes and I never loved dressing my kids up in them.
I don’t like weird make-up that sweats off into a mess, because I live in Texas where mostly October 31stis stinking sweltering. Also, I’m kind of claustrophobic, and costumes make me feel like I can’t breathe. Also I’m a nervous Nellie about kids running amuck in the streets. Also, adults in masks creep me out. My list of “alsos” could go on for days. I’ll stop.
Perhaps my aversion to Halloween costumes is due to childhood trauma.
It wasn’t intentional on Mama’s part. No really. It’s just she’s always had a most particular sense of humor.
Before my older sister and I were even old enough to trick-or-treat, this happened.
It was the early ‘60s. Our job would be to help hand out candy to the bigger kids who knocked on our door. As my mom and dad retold it, we were so excited and could hardly wait for the first knock.
This is when things took a sinister turn.
Mama Dear put a panty hose over her head and face and sneaked out the back door, making her way to the front.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
She knocked. Our innocent and happy little selves ran to the door and stopped dead in our tracks at the horrendous face before us. The shocked look we wore surprised yet amused our mother and she began to laugh, saying, It’s Mommy. It’s just Mommy,which only made it worse. The voice was familiar to us, but that contorted, squashed-up face looked nothing like our mama.
We squalled and balled. Dad came to the rescue. Mom kept laughing, because you she knew she shouldn’t. I’m told a little spat ensued.
So yeah. Maybe I’m warped.
The first Halloween costume for my first baby boy was given to me. A Pumpkin. Orange fabric, elastic in the neck hole, elastic in the leg holes and glued-on felt pieces for the face. All of my kids wore it at least once. Some years I got really creative and I stuffed it with newspaper to make it plump.
Costumes rarely got better. White t-shirts with the letter “P” written in marker on the front, paired with makeup to blacken the kid’s eyes. They were the Black-Eyed Peas. Three kids costumed in under five minutes. Bam! That was how I rolled. One year they were the Crazy Hair Kids. A little hair product and DONE! Doesn’t get more pathetic than that.
I’m a forward thinker, and my skill was on point one year when we surprised our boys with Dallas Cowboy football uniforms for Christmas, which would then also double as costumes the following October. Genius! I added a little cheerleader to the mix by pulling out my old high school pom-poms. Sexist, you say? I’m not sorry, no matter how much you shame me. Because it was EASY! That’s all I’m saying!
One year I made my daughter into a giant present. At her school’s Fall Festival, she walked around in a box all night—with the largest bow you’ve ever seen right on the tip top of her head. It was the high point of my costume design—by far the best one out of about thirty-three costumes. I was proud, but it did me in. It was the final curtain call. It was all I would ever have. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. DONE.
So Mamas. Hear me say the following things.
If you LOVE all the costumed fun, good for you! Go do it, design it, embrace it. I always wished to be you. Maybe most every mother is you. Maybe I’m the weirdo exception.
But just in case I’m not, I offer up this.
If you are two days from Halloween and have no idea what your kids are going to be, come here and let me give you a hug. Take heart. You absolutely cannot fail worse than this chick. Impossible, no matter how hard you try.
Know these things:
Pinterest is evil at Halloween and is nothing more than STRESS masquerading around as CREATIVITY. Who needs it? Avoid it at all cost. Pinterest, you know I mostly love you, but get off my girls’ backs at Halloween, will you?
Do not compare. When you are tempted to think you are lame, think of yourself as minimal. Less is more. Even for Halloween costumes.
One day your children will change into adults who will only remember you to have won an Oscar for Best Costume Design in the category of Halloween. I know because I asked. They had no idea I was anything short of genius. Go figure.
I salute you, sister of the Halloween Bah Humbug. You go right on ahead and feel what you feel. You have my permission. Off you go now—one foot in front of the other, because apparently you must. Get ‘er done, but do not be shamed into wearing a mask if you don’t want to. It’s hard to breathe in there.
Your reward for persevering is this.
When the kids go to bed on Halloween night, you get to eat all their chocolate. No one has ever deserved it more than you.
You know I’m right.