Halloween and Costumes

It's hardly a secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Hell, it's my favorite day of the year! I love the spookiness. The goblins and ghosts. The pumpkins and gourds.

I've decorated for Halloween every year for more than 20 years. Way back when, it was hard to find Halloween decorations. I searched at multiple shops everywhere I went. I collected things up, saved them. I took care so that none of the crepe paper honeycombs were crushed. All of the decorations were slightly spooky but basically fun - like a spider with a smile or covered in glitter. A ghost that you might mistake for a friend of Casper's. A black cat with a jaunty, striped witch's hat.

Today, Halloween decorations abound. You can't swing a broomstick without hitting a store that has a Halloween aisle. But the selection has changed. You can sometimes find those "old school" decorations, but most seem to be more suitable for Halloween the Movie rather than Halloween the Holiday, which makes me sad. They've taken my ultra-fun, slightly spooky day and turned into a slasher flick, a B-movie. I've never liked those movies. They don't scare me or creep me out, they are just ridiculous. Violent and gory just to be violent and gory. And don't forget the sex. You have to have some half-clad woman to add to the mix. Bah.

And Halloween costumes, oh costumes how they have changed. Are you female? Then what sexy, trampy, whorish thing would you like to be? Oh, you're only 5? No problem, we have this (scroll down for a lovely version of a lion(?) or police woman). I'm sure this is just the Cheshire Cat that you were thinking of right? With the fish nets, a skirt, bare arms sexed up with boa trimmed fingerless gloves. No? Well, there are plenty of things to choose from that look nothing like what you had in mind. Or you can be a princess. Thank you, no.

Thankfully, my kids have figured out what they would like to be each year and we've found a way to make it work. They have only had store bought costumes when they were toddlers (a bee, ladybug, dog and cat - all of which were of the "wearing a stuffed animal" variety and second-hand.) Since then we've had Harry Potter, Hedwig, Dobby, Fluffy (or Cerberus for those who don't read HP), Jack Skellington, a devil, a spider and this year Perry the Platypus and a secret agent chihuahua. We've seen some costumes online/in stores that could have been purchased for what they had chosen. They don't want those. They LIKE to make costumes. They get to pick out the details. Sure, we've gone to thrift stores for the parts, but they get to pick out those parts and make the whole. Their costume is theirs and theirs alone. It fits their vision of who they are trying to be.

(Stella as "a girl Harry Potter" and Sandis as Jack Skellington, 2006)

And they are trying to be something they really like, not just what they saw at Target and decided to be. How they came up with it is sometimes a mystery (like the devil, where did that come from?) but it did come from them. It has nothing to do with being sexy or costing a lot of money. It's not about status. It is genuine. It is fun. It is all about who they are and who they want to be for a day. I love that, it makes Halloween all that it should be again - fun :)

(Now Sandis is Harry Potter and Stella is Dobby (with extra clothes under the pillow case tunic due to our weather), 2010)


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