Halloween was two days ago, which means two things:
1. My sugar hangover is almost gone, and
2. In about 10 minutes it will be Christmas.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because, even though the song is probably already playing on the radio, in my opinion The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is Halloween.
It’s in the Genes
As you know from my first blog post, my mom influenced me in many ways, and Halloween is no exception. She LOVED Halloween. Think of Rosanne Conner, but without the annoying voice and mean streak.
Probably the fact that her birthday fell just 10 days before had something to do with it, as well as her inexplicable desire for the abominations known as candy corn and circus peanuts. But I think the real reason was because she was just bursting with creativity and a great sense of humor – a perfect combination for Halloween. Add to that a limited budget, and you can’t help but come up with something unique and spectacular.
So many people today think the key to a winning costume is using their charge card, but I think you get so much more when by using the materials at hand and your imagination. One year, a friend on her bowling team, knowing Mom was a fantastic seamstress, asked her to help make an intricate and expensive fairy costume. The finished product was indeed a work of art, but when she was done, Mom realized bowling night was upon her and she had no costume of her own.
First, she put on her thinking cap. Then she donned a pair of my dad’s long underwear, ratted up her hair, used Vaseline to apply coffee grounds to her face for a five o’clock shadow, and completed the ensemble with a pair of old slippers and a satin sash that read “Missed America.” I wish I had a picture of Mom winning first prize in the contest, much to the disappointment of her friend, who thought her fairy costume was a shoo-in.
To Infinity and Beyond!
As you can see, I’m a sucker for Halloween, too. Having been raised properly, I love nothing better than a good costume party and the originality that goes along with it. The best costumes are those that are a clever play on words, or that bring something topical into the mix.
Before we were married, Mike and I attended many Halloween parties. One year, when I had shorter hair a a lot less body, I was Kathy Rigby – I put on tights, a leotard and carried around a box of Stayfree Maxi Pads (If you’re too young to get the reference, here’s a link to explain it). In 1982, Mike borrowed his nephew’s plastic helmet and rifle, put on combat boots and a nightgown, and went as Klinger from M*A*S*H. Just a few years ago we again went topical, looking to the day’s news and advertising for our costumes.
And on our second Halloween as a married couple, I was pregnant with our first child, due on Christmas day. Mike put on his brown robe, I wrapped myself in blue sheets, and we went to the party as, who else, Mary and Joseph. Try to top that for a tie-in!
As our kids came along, my passion for the holiday shifted to them, and I have many memories of great costumes and tons of fun. And to add fuel to my Halloween bonfire, I worked for 11 years at a church with a preschool, so every Halloween week I had the pleasure of having some 150+ kids trick or treat in my office. My rule was that I had to guess each child’s costume, and while that became something of a challenge in the later years, as my own kids got older, I at least could yell “TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!!!!” every time a Buzz Lightyear crossed my path. It’s been eight years since I left that job, and it still tugs at my heart a little every Halloween that I’m missing that fun.
Halloween – the Next Generation
These days, of course, I get to play the best character of all on Halloween – Grandma! While Halloween night outdid itself in terms of lousy weather this year, we got to trick or treat early with our grandsons in shirtsleeves and sandals. My in-laws live in a 55+ community, which offers trick or treating each year on the Saturday before Halloween for the residents’ grandchildren and (in my in-laws’ case) great grandchildren. It was a beautiful day of great weather and fun, the highlight of which was seeing my two grandsons, once they were done trick or treating, take it upon themselves to go out on the porch and sit with Papu and help hand out candy. Because what better way to end a perfect Halloween than with something sweet?