Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Costume Retrospective

Well, it’s that time of year again—my favorite time of year. Friends, it’s the season of Halloween. I love Halloween way more than Christmas, even though Christmas is pretty great, too. Halloween is fun because you get to decorate your house for a full month (and for once it is acceptable to have thick, visible cobwebs in your corners), and you get to dress up and eat candy, but you don’t have to spend tons of money on presents and stay up all night assembling various toys that will be loved and played with for two days and then forgotten about. You don’t have to plan a big meal, and then spend your holiday cooking and baking by yourself in the kitchen. Dollar-for-dollar, Halloween is definitely cheaper than Christmas, plus it has a minimum input/maximum reward thing going for it that other holidays just don’t come close to reaching. And, as my sister told her church leaders, Halloween doesn’t have to be about scary, horrifying things, you can really just focus on the devil instead (ha ha! What a jokester).
I wondered a lot about what I could possibly write that would do justice to my love of Halloween. I considered a lengthy treatise on the negative effect of trunk-or-treats and how they are ruining the fabric of our society (come on, unless you live in a drive-by-shooting type of neighborhood or a foreign country, trunk-or-treats are just another way for parents to micromanage their children to the point of suffocation! Have a church Halloween carnival, but don’t mess with the time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating all over the neighborhood, taking the necessary safety precautions, of course).
I also considered a serious reprimand for those parents who don’t actually let their children consume the candy they work so hard to earn. I’ve heard of candy rationing, candy donating, candy experimenting (this one is the worst, in my opinion), and complex systems of withholding candy so that it becomes a burden and a punishment not only for the kids, but for the parents as well. Dude, be a stickler for the rest of the year, but on Halloween, let it all hang out! Your kids will learn from stomachaches and empty candy bowls that they should slow it down (or maybe they won’t, but who cares? It’s once a year!).
But, really, the best part of Halloween is not the trick-or-treating or the candy, it’s the dressing up. So, I hope you won’t mind indulging me in a little costume retrospective, just to put us all in the mood:
The first costumes I remember were, of course, princess costumes. I was a princess two years in a row, and my mother made me two very pretty pale blue dresses with white dots on them, and took photos of me doing angelic poses (my eyes and hands raised to the sky) in our orange family room.
Unfortunately, I outgrew the princess thing pretty quickly and from then on focused on the less attractive, more gritty, aspects of Halloween costumes: spiders, pumpkins, ghosts (that was an uncreative year), witches, and Pee Wee Herman. My friend Robyn once went out as Fergie (as in Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York). Clearly she was ahead of her time.
My elementary school years were an experiment in Halloween ugliness, and sadly, my high school years continued that trend. I guess I never got the memo that Halloween costumes for teenaged girls were supposed to make them look “hot,” and so I insisted on dressing like a crazy axe murderer with a pot belly, facial hair, a warty nose, and fake blood all over my flannel shirt and torn jeans. I went to the high school Halloween dances dressed in scrubs (you know, like a nurse!) or wearing a grey wig, a cardigan, a tartan skirt, thick tights, black tennis shoes, and reading glasses perched on the tip of my nose. What costume could be hotter than an “old person”? During my sophomore year—or the year of the perm—I could part my hair down the middle, put on a denim vest and a pair of bell bottoms and I was the spitting image of Robert Plant in his early Led Zeppelin years. I took full advantage of this resemblance.
Then of course there was the disco era, wherein I thought it was fine to dress as “a person from the seventies,” complete with bell bottoms, butterfly collars, and feathered hair. You have to remember that this was before the age of Harry Potter and I didn’t have the option to be Minerva McGonagall, Gilderoy Lockhart, Severus Snape, Dumbeldore or Bellatrix Lestrange. I had to work with what was given to me.
In my post high school years, when I was more interested in gaining the attention of the gentlemen, I dressed as Olive Oyle from Popeye. Then I found a charming set of cat ears and a tail, and used them as my emergency costume. Those ears and tail served me well: the first time I wore them was one of the first times I talked to my future husband. So that wasn’t too shabby.
As a married woman, I was thrilled with the costume possibilities: Shrek and Fiona, Lumberjack and Tree, Bumblebee and beekeeper. The options were endless. And once I had children of my own, the options compounded: The Beatles as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Shrek and Fiona and their triplets, an ensemble cast of Harry Potter, the Wizard of Oz, etc.
Unfortunately, my oldest son isn’t much for dressing up, and prefers to go trick-or-treating as either a lumberjack (minus the tree) or a welder. Considering his penchant for all things Carhartt, he pretty much dresses like a welder or a lumberjack every day anyway. It’s very disappointing. And my daughter always wants to be some impossible thing, like a bird. So I will have to get a dozen feather boas and sew them onto some footed flannel pajamas and make a beak out of cardboard. If she would let me be a power line or a worm, then we’d be cookin.’
Nowadays, my fall-back costume is an orange and black striped witch’s hat complete with long orange wig. I am hoping to inherit my mother’s inflatable witch costume that has a built in air pump, but for now, she isn’t giving it up. This year I have considered dressing as Michael Jackson in “Thriller,” but I wonder: is it too soon?
I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween season, and that you make the most of whatever celebrity/serial killer/Harry Potter cast member you may resemble. I know I will.
Happy Halloween!


  1. Halloween is definitely fun and I remember a great Halloween party at your house. I like to get dressed up, and have always wanted to do a couple or family theme, but I always wait until the last minute and don't have time to put something cool together. Growing up, our costumes were made from stuff we already had or that my mom made for us, and I wish my kids would let me do the same. Abby always wants the $20 vinyl whatever costume from Target. *sigh* I am feeling sad for you that you are going to be here on Halloween where there is nothing going on and the lame attempt we are going to make is sure to disappoint.

  2. Yeah, Jenny. I am SO bummed that I will be in ROME on Halloween.

  3. I'm totally with you on the candy-consumption control. I just let the kids go at it and when the candy is gone, well maybe they won't realize I was the one who ate it!!

  4. I have a really good system for candy consumption. Here's how I manage the children's Halloween candy: they eat it. The good things in life are free on Halloween night.

  5. Halloween is my favorite too, but sometimes I get discouraged at how hard it is to get some people excited about it. My husband, for example, doesn't care at all about Halloween (or any holiday, for that matter). But, I'm hoping that's just because he has had so few holidays with me, he just doesn't know what he's missing.

    Anyway, I share your love!

  6. So, last year Scott bribed Harry into cashing in the candy. I ate all the good things out of it. . . so maybe he should have paid me not to eat it? Our ward is having a neighborhood trunk-or-treat. I feel robbed. We may have to come up and scout out your neck of the woods, just to get back to my roots.

    And, yes, it is such a bummer about Italy. Wish you could be here.