As a kid, it ranked right up there with my favorites. Probably only third behind Christmas and Easter. With those two, Halloween completed the trifecta of candy holidays. As in "You, the child, will receive copious amounts of sugary treats on these three days of the year. The other 362 it's back to unsweetened cereals and whole grain bread." (My mother was a health nut - never any sign of a Hostess Twinkie or any other Hostess product within 20 yards of our house. Maybe this is one reason Orville gets to eat so many of them.)
When did this change? When did my aversion to Halloween begin? I'll tell you.
I can tell you exactly because that was the year our first child turned four and our second child turned one.
That was the year I met the other moms.
The ones who sew.
The ones who would never be caught dead buying their kid a Halloween costume. Who equated parental love with a willingness to make oneself nuts making a perfect homemade Trick or Treating outfit extraordinaire.
Now I am creative and artistic and can paint and crochet and knit with the best of them. I can even sew. Sort of. Basically I sew rectangles. I can make pillows and tote bags and valances and can even sort of slipcover cushions (I didn't photograph the back of these - you would see how much of their perfect fit is owed to the glories of duct tape). But sewing things that actually have to fit on curves and around ankles - well, you can't duct tape the kid into the Halloween costume. I think they call DCFS on you.
Not only did this group of new friends make perfect costumes for their kids, they also made them for themselves. Every year for about ten years we were part of a group that had a big Halloween party where everyone had to wear a costume. And this brings me to the other reason I now hate Halloween.
I hate dressing up in costumes of any kind. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I gave it a good shot the first year we went to the party - John and I made everyone bird costumes. (Though coloring bedsheets with spray paint - not a good idea. Massive toxic fumes. Fortunately only on our costumes - the kids were in non toxic yellow jammies or something).
I think I even came up with something pretty good the following year. But then something snapped. Then the party became, for me, a sort of game where I would see how little I could do to dress up.
Non-costumes I can recall:
The Artist - I threw on a grubby "painter's" shirt and carried around a palette and paint brush.
The Farmer's Wife - the same jeans and shirt and shoes from the previous year - I ditched the painter's accessories and put my hair in braids.
The Poet - I dressed all in black, put on dark, dark lipstick, and wrote up about 20 fortune cookie-esque poems to be handed out upon request.
The Princess - I put on one of my old Bridesmaid dresses.
The Harpist - really a cop out - I just wore what I usually wear to a gig.
and my personal favorite:
The Failure of The Women's Movement - this costume also included my then five year old daughter. She went as a princess and I put my hair in a bun, found one of my mom's old June Cleaver type dresses from the 50's, and a double strand of fake pearls. I got this idea only days earlier when attending a Halloween/Birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. I kid you not - every girl at the party was a fairy or a princess and every boy was The Hulk or Spiderman. How far we've come :-)
John, on the other hand, excels at making costumes. Except for the year he went as a painting (when I was the painter - get it?) he usually puts a lot of time and talent into costuming. I especially remember the year son number two wanted to be a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. John made this out of a bicycle helmet. It took days.
And here is the infamous R2D2 costume. You can read all about the genesis of this over on John's recent lab notes.
So, in closing, I'll wish you all a Happy Halloween. I'll happily buy $40 worth of candy and pass it out to the neighborhood children, and you too, if you stop by.
Just don't ask me to dress up.