I have a love hate relationship with Halloween. On the one hand I really enjoy making my children's costumes and watching their creativity spark as they help and add their special touches. On the other hand I discovered nine seconds into it this year that the glitter fabric I had carefully chosen for a fairy costume was going to plaster the whole house and it's occupants in glitter for the foreseeable future. This indeed has happened and it now looks like we are living in a home for out of work strippers. Dave went to work the other day with two sparkles on his chin and I didn't tell him. Yup, I lost my nerve and just let him go off to be a sparkling partner in an accounting firm. Sorry dear.
I love answering the door bell to see a bunch of little princesses and pumkins, superheroes and ghosts, characters and kitty-cats. They are always so jazzed up and thrilled by the whole thing and I love being part of their day. I do not so much love answering the door to seventeen year old zombies at 10 o'clock at night.
I think my mom had a similar relationship with Halloween, you see she did not sew. I don't mean she didn't like it I mean she just would not do it, she totally hated it. Mom thought that when a button fell off a shirt it was a sign from God that the shirt was wrong. I learned to sew early and out of necessity. So Halloween presented some problems. When I was a kid most people didn't go for the fancy store bought costumes. You cobbled together what you could from the attic and your dad's closet (hobos were popular) or your mom sewed up something. My mom was not going to do that.
What mom lacked in sewing skills though she more than made up for in cardboard box skills. She would scavenge a box from a local store and with that, some paint and some glue she would make magic.
One year I came home from school the day before Halloween and I was horrified. I had wanted with all my heart to be Alice in Wonderland. It wasn't going to happen. Mostly because such a thing was unavailable to buy and we probably didn't have the money anyway. And no way was she going to make it. Since I was so into Alice that year mom thought it would be great if I could go as a tea party.
We she did it. She made me a tea party. The next day mom walked both myself and my little brother down the block to the elementary school we attended (she rarely walked us, we generally just went by ourselves which would now get her arrested) helping us with our costume paraphernelia. She stopped by my classroom first to get me suited up and then went off to my brother's class to help him. There was to be a big parade in the parking lot and then prizes for best costume in each grade. I was waiting for everyone to start making fun of me, tears standing in my eyes ready to roll. I was an anemic, asthmatic whose nose was constantly in a book, being made fun of was not new to me but this, this was going to sting.
Miracle of miracles everyone thought it was cool. It was certainly unlike anything else in the room and little by little I shook off the bad feelings and began to be profoundly grateful for my mom's mojo with a box.
Two days ago was the anniversary of my mom's death and I wish I had another minute to tell her that she rocked Halloween. That winning that best costume contest was the pinnacle of grammar school for me. I hope she knows and I wish I had told her.
So this week when I got a little overwhelmed by the outfitting of my somewhat large family I would think of my mom sitting on a cardboard box covered in a heavy fringed tablecloth trying to make the glue stick as she ate a tuna sandwich and watched the Price is Right. I smile and think that whatever else I do I am passing down the tradition of using what gifts I have to make the day a little more special for my kids. Hopefully someday they will look back and be happy that I tried as I am happy that my mom gave me that moment of being the best in a cardboard box.