Monday, November 1, 2010

Hipppety Hop to Halloween

I love Halloween.

I'm sorry, friends and family I love and whose views I respect, but Halloween has never been about the spooky or demonic for me. This is the holiday for dress-up and candy, and last night the pirates and dragons who rang the doorbell were as fun-sized as the KitKats and Butterfingers they scored from me.

I've talked here about my ineptitude with craft projects. The exception to this rule, the one arts arena in which I was truly ept, was Halloween costumes. In my revisionist version of this history, I am the Michaelangelo of masks.

The Boys began planning their Halloween costumes in the summer and by early October they had usually decided on their characters. At that point I began haunting the local thrift shop. To this day I'm amazed at what could be found among the musty-smelling sweaters and outmoded bluejeans.

Add some fluorescent stars and a pointed hat to a 50-cent purple graduation gown, and we have Dumbledore. (Husband reminds me that Boy#4 wasn't so happy with this fabulous costume after one of his friends quite mistakenly guessed he was a princess.)

Or recycle an old trenchcoat. Button all the way up, add a fedora and a notebook, and voila! Boy#1 is a private detective. Boy#2's best might have been the year he directed the construction of his robot, complete with dryer-duct arms and a body of spray-painted cardboard taken from an apple box.

The most expensive costume we ever had was the year Boy#4 had broken his femur and sported a hip spica cast.  Husband chuckled as he taped on orange poster board and converted our beautiful 18-month-old into a slow moving vehicle sign.

Of all the costumes we had, though, the most memorable and enduring was the bunny. When Boy#1 was a toddler and I still had plenty of ambition, I decided to sew him a costume. I scoured Wal-Mart's sewing aisle for the perfect size 2 pattern, counted out my pennies for the gray and pink fleece, and drove home happily.

I should admit at this point that I am a terrible seamstress. My mother, who sewed with creativity and joy, somehow could not impart her skills to me and I sew with bungling and curses.

Almost immediately I knew I was over my head. To my horror, the bunny pattern included (and I am not exaggerating) 48 separate pieces. There were feet and mitts, and the headpiece alone had ears, ear linings, cheeks, back of head, et cetera, ad nauseum. All of these pieces were no match against the disorganizational power of two-year-old One, a curious whirlwind of a child, so the sewing had to be done during his oh-so-brief naps and after he went to bed.

I persevered, though, cutting and stitching and ripping out and restitching. Finally the soft little outfit was complete. It was perfect except for one tiny detail: Apparently the creators of this pattern were envisioning two-year-old bunnies on steroids. It was HUUUUUGE. I wasn't going to let One know this, though. Even at that age he was a snappy dresser and refused to go out in less-than-stylin' duds.

"Oh, you look so cute!" I cooed through gritted teeth as I yanked the elastic wrists and ankles up to knees and elbows. "See? This way your legs and arms will stay cool but you'll still look like a rabbit."

Somehow, we got through that session of trick-or-treating, and after spending as much time and emotional capital on this costume as I did, I was by-golly going to get my investment back. Over the years we have pictures of Boys#2, #3, and #4 wearing the bunny:

What we don't have (or at least I couldn't find this morning) is a picture of Boy#1, the original bunny. Not a problem. This is close enough:
Happy Halloween, all!


  1. I didn't have the joy of knowing you or your off spring while they were young. So the pictures are adorable. However Robert in a spica is sad. Kids are so lucky to not remember the hassle those things are.

  2. Rebecca, you'd be amazed at how quickly he adapted to the confinement. He could army crawl like nobody's business.