I’m honestly not sure when Halloween became such a big damn deal. Now this isn’t a miserly comment, but rather a truly curious one. When I was a kid we bought those Halloween costumes that came in a simple b...ox. Character of choice with cheap plastic mask included. In the here and now, people dress their dogs in more elaborate costumes than we wore and I’m not even kinda kidding. These days it would seem that most parents contact the American Actors Guild and hire a wardrobe consultant in order to properly attire their offspring. And proper Halloween attire seems to imply a strange game of one-ups-manship with parents spending a paycheck on wildly elaborate costumes that could do a turn on Broadway without seeming amateur or out of place.
Now I run the risk of sounding bitter because I simply can’t compete (and have no desire to really). What really sends me into a tailspin is when I see these STUNNING costumes that some wildly gifted and creative mom actually MADE. With her own two hands! On something called a sewing machine! Coming from a woman who quite literally couldn’t even sew on a button, my level of awe in these circumstances is immeasurable. So while I am insanely impressed with the creativity and dedication that these gifted mom’s put in to create these works of Art for the Halloween festivities, I STILL don’t know when this began. Clearly I missed the undeniable transition between the silly get-ups we ALL wore as kids and over the top wardrobes that now wander the streets on Halloween night.
Now I am all in for any Holiday. I adore tradition and celebration. And yes, I have an Anna from Frozen in the house. Toothless is also making an appearance and we found something really cute at a second hand store for the youngest. I’ve already played my hand and shared that I don’t spend a mint on costumes and I couldn’t hand-make a costume if one of my kids decided they wanted to be a paper bag for Halloween. BUT rest assured I do have standards. Our oldest, at thirteen is right on the cusp of wanting to participate in the festivities, but not wanting to approach it like a “kid” either. So she tells me that she is going trick-or-treating as “Pajama Girl.” Excuse me? What or who exactly is that? “Well I’m going to wear my pajamas and just make a cape.” Hmmm. How delightfully imaginative of you. And the answer is…not a chance. For as much as I’m not in the camp of astronaut costumes that actually include a space pack and princesses riding real, live horses for Halloween, my take is that if you’re going to participate in the Holiday, you need to respect the Holiday.
I felt compelled to share with her the insider information that every adult passing out Halloween candy on that bewitching night who has some slouchy teen show up at their door in their football jersey calling it a costume wants to slam the door in their face. You aren’t cool and you certainly aren’t cute. I mean really. Why don’t you just walk into Safeway on any given day and ask them for a Snickers bar? It’s essentially the same thing. If you aren’t willing to make the effort to partake in the Holiday as it was intended…don’t bother. Trick or treating in your pajamas, jersey or gym shorts doesn’t count. Long story short, she is feverishly trying to come up with Plan B.
That little rant aside, October seems to mark the beginning of an all-out Holiday Marathon. It begins in early October with our pilgrimage to the pumpkin farm of choice and doesn’t let up until we find ourselves utterly exhausted, frazzled and flat broke by the time we crawl our way to the finish line known as New Year’s Eve which mercifully brings the marathon to a drunken close. Every single year, I vow to discover the ways and means to do a better job. To prioritize better, to be more mindful and less frantic. To focus on intention, meaning and memories instead of merchandise. And every year I fail epically. BUT, I refuse to give up. There is a way and I am bound and determined to find it.
But my point as we stare down Halloween night is that the Holidays are not about who can do the entire Season more brilliantly. Who can manage it all with seamless, and enviable panache. Who can make it all appear effortless and easy. Who can make it look like their house fell out of a Pottery Barn catalogue and their dinners would make the editors of Bon Appetit Magazine drool with culinary envy. Again, please don’t misunderstand me. I am downright crazy for this stuff. It would literally be a dream come true to have the design team from Pottery Barn show up at my house and say, “don’t worry, we got this.” So what I am hoping we all, myself more than anyone, can keep in mind during this precious time is the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is Moments. Shared with those we love and care about. It is those things and only those things that will endure long after the candy has been eaten, the pies have been baked and the gifts have been unwrapped and outgrown. May the magic and wonder of the impending Season belong to you and yours and wish me good luck in finding the same. I’ll need it.