Published in the Miami News-Record, November 2, 2014
I love Halloween. So much so that we’ve had our Halloween decorations up since the first week of September. We have these really cool pictures that look like old black and white photos but when you get close they are skeletons, vampires, zombies, etc. Our fireplace beheld a pile of bones until my husband evicted ol’ Boney Maroney when he installed our new gas logs. Now ol’ Boney just hangs out all piled up in a galvanized bucket next to the TV. There are creepy cobwebs hanging everywhere. Actually, that’s not just a Halloween thing, just my lackadaisical housekeeping.
I used to go all out on Halloween costumes. Halloween costumes and Valentine’s Day boxes brought forth a part of me that stayed hidden the rest of the year, but come October and February I was a woman obsessed. I stayed up until 3am on more than one occasion crafting and building costumes and boxes. All I can figure, I was a lot younger and really cared way too much about what other people thought. Now I’m old and don’t give much of a hoot. And since we homeschool and they’re older now, costumes (and Valentine boxes) haven’t been a big deal around here for awhile. In fact, we haven’t trick-or-treated since I made this deal with the kids: You don’t make me create a costume for you and drag you out in the wind/cold/heat/crowds, and I buy you a metric ton of candy and let you stay up as late as you want. It’s my favorite Halloween tradition.
This year a friend of ours decided to host a costume party. And my children got really excited. I made the standard candy/stay-up-late offer and even said I’d watch scary movies with them, but no, the little extroverts wanted to go to the party. Then the himming and hawing began over costumes. And to top it all off, the oldest daughter wanted to dress up for work and she wanted to be “super scary”. Because that’s what everyone who comes in to the restaurant want to see while they eat – her creepy scary zombie doll clown vampire face.
The two youngest kids decided on cosplay-type costumes from the Batman comics – The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn. Fortunately Kady’s costume was her idea alone and she did the entire thing herself (the Overachieving Force is strong with that one) and the oldest decided on a mime (decidedly un-super scary, but sufficiently creepy for those of us with clown phobias already). The girls’ ability to create theirs on their own left me to work on their brother’s costume. By 11pm the night before Halloween I had enough burlap fibers on me to make me look like a crazy cat lady and my dining room had little bits of twine pretty much everywhere. In an attempt at singeing the cut edges of the eye holes, I managed to catch the mask on fire and here’s some wisdom for you: flaming burlap fibers will embed under the tender flesh of the pad of one’s finger. Then after I stitched the mouth with some sloppy, creepy stitches I realized the mouth was smiling happily, not grimacing menacingly. I, however, was grimacing as I pulled out the stitches to start over. And itching from an apparent burlap allergy.
When it was all said and done, though, all three costumes looked great. Harley Quinn and The Scarecrow represented Gotham City well and the mime didn’t even scare a single customer (although she did give her mother the creeps). And while I thought my costume-making days were over, I was granted one more flurry of sewing, gluing and memory-making. It was worth sporting melted burlap around in my finger for a day or two to see them trot off excitedly and for my six-foot-tall son to wrap his arms around me and say, “Thanks, Mom. It looks great. You’re the best. Really.”
Be still my Halloweary heart. I’d melt burlap into my finger every day of the week for that.