As the leaves finally begin to take off their green gloves, I am flooded with memories of Halloween events of long ago. Perhaps it is because I have one child “too old” to trick-or-treat. Perhaps it is because of the variety of costumes you can buy at almost any store in town.
My mother always told me it was a season of imagination and creativity. She encouraged us to make or find unusual decorations for our house. My favorite was the inflatable pumpkin (that you blew up with your own air) that was almost the size of our sofa.
Mom’s creativity really amazed us when it came to Halloween costumes. One year, she transformed me into a princess by transforming unused satin and gauze and crowning me with her own bridal tiara. I was the traditional sheet-covered ghost one year. My favorite costume was the Raggedy Ann costume with the totally awesome wig (that my brother later used for his Weirdo costume that won first prize at his cub scout party). My brother’s most awesome costume was the lion costume Mom made out of paper bags. It was so elaborate with its shredded paper mane that he won ANOTHER first prize in the school costume contest. (Yes, our school allowed us to wear costumes to class.)
As I got older, so did my costumes. I pulled a white dress and a dark sweater out of the closet to become a nurse. For one Halloween dance, I arrived in a Medusa costume that frightened my date so much he asked me several times if I knew what it looked like. (I had braided rubber snakes into my hair and used a lot of green cream eye shadow.)
I’ve tried to continue my mother’s tradition by never allowing my children to buy their costumes. I’ve posted a few of them here. I tried to find the Clifford costume we made for my son out of some red pajamas. (Oh, he was so cute.) He was also Opie Taylor one year. His grandmother made him a peanut butter and sardine sandwich for the occasion. My daughter was a clown one year with the most awesome makeup ever. Later, we started transforming recital costumes into all kinds of possibilities. One year, we reworked my old Indian costume to create the blonde Pocahontas.
We might buy wings or felt or paint, but never a full costume. And it pays off. Last summer, I took secret delight in watching my daughter find things around the house to create a Hannah Montana costume for a special event at camp. My son is always making himself into something that will amuse us.
So that’s my challenge for you. As you hear about Halloween Hot Spots in our area, as you plan your party, think about what you can create from things that are right in front of you. What broken toy can be reassembled to turn you into a robot? What prom dress is too out of date to be sold? Don’t get caught up in the “scary” of All Hallows’ Eve. Get caught up in the creativity of the season of harvest. Have fun celebrating your imagination.