Yesterday was my birthday. That’s right. October 30. Halloween Eve. This might be why Halloween has always held a special place in my heart.
When I was a kid, there was always a party at school, so it was like having my very own birthday extravaganza every year. This was of course before every third kid developed a peanut or gluten allergy and before schools went overboard with political correctness. I have actually known of schools that schedule their picture day on October 31 so there is an excuse not to deal with the pro-Halloween vs. anti-Halloween factions. I can’t imagine who would be anti-Halloween, but apparently there are some people out there who don’t like the “pagan” origins of All Hallows Eve.
But this isn’t about those party poopers. This is about my favorite part of the holiday – the costumes!
My history of dressing up goes way back – to my very first Halloween. As I said, I was born on October 30. As my Mom always told the story, on October 31, the nurses brought all of the babies from the nursery to their mothers wearing makeshift ghost costumes fashioned from cloth diapers. From that day forward, my Mom and Dad liked to say that they were never quite sure if I was a trick or a treat. (Yep. My sarcasm is hereditary.)
Over the years, my sister, brother, and I took great care in our costumes. Most of ours were handmade – either sewn by my Mom, or crafted from clothing in our closets. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I am the baby of the family, and things were passed down to me through the years. I never, thank god, wore one of those weird plastic masks with the corresponding smock.
What the hell is that? You are basically an advertisement for The Munsters or Planet of the Apes, you are not “becoming” Herman Munster or an ape. Not only is it ugly, but what fun is that? We much preferred coming up with something creative and unique.
My favorite for years was the gypsy costume. This costume was my sister’s and we both wore it multiple years until it just wouldn’t fit. Satin skirt and matching kerchief, velvet vest. Add a peasant blouse and the tambourine prop. Having Mom layer on the bright blue eyeshadow, some rouge, and a beauty mark on my cheek felt so special. I BECAME a gypsy!
We were not a family of artists, but when it came to costumes we were pretty creative. We were really good at taking everyday things and making something unique. There was the time I got a hideous hand-me-down pants suit with vertical stripes from my cousin Sharon. I turned it into a great convict’s uniform, complete with a big black rubber ball attached to my ankle like a ball and chain. And one year my brother appropriated a floral jacket that no longer fit my sister. He wore a long black wig and carried a toy ukulele and voila – Tiny Tim!
My parents took the prize for what to this day is one of my favorite memories. It was about 1969 or 1970 and my Mom somehow got her hands on an old fur coat. She cut it up and made the matching costume that is still one of the most awesome couples’ costumes of all time. A caveman and cavewoman. Black fright wigs for them both, plus a wiffle bat wrapped in brown crepe paper as a club. I still can’t believe my Dad agreed to do this!
I continued to wear that costume in later years. I didn’t need the wig – my 80s big hair was enough with just a little more mousse and hair spray. We all had a lot of fun dressing up in college. I’d wear the cavewoman getup, or sometimes find something vintage at the Goodwill store. There was always some sort of party going on.
As the years passed, my opportunities to dress up dwindled. My circle of friends just doesn’t get into it, but there was the occasional party. For one, I dressed as a hippy. A kid at the party said “I know what you are. You’re one of those people from the olden days.” WHAT??? I may be a little young to have been an actual hippy, but I do remember the days when they were around.
My stepdaughter mirrored her American Girl doll with a costume made by her grandmother. Mr. Maid, as usual, being a stick-in-the-mud, went as a utility employee. Big stretch since that’s what he does for a living. A party goer thought he was there to service the house and asked the hostess what was wrong!
There was one other time when Mr. Maid and Jacoby went to a father/daughter party at her school. This was in the day when the TV show Crocodile Hunter was at its peak. They were able to easily piece together their costumes from what was in their closets and a few store-bought items.
Overall, my favorite costumes are also the ones of the easiest to pull off. If you’re looking for a last minute costume, be a tourist. A Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts and hiking shoes. Accessorize with a bucket hat, camera around the neck, fanny pack, maps sticking out of your pockets, some zinc oxide on your nose. It’s easy, you probably already have everything you need, and it’s comfortable. If you’re like my husband and hate to dress up, go as the Brawny Paper Towel man. Jeans, flannel shirt, and carry around a roll of towels. Easy!
Whatever you do, have a Happy Halloween! And if you have a party – send me an invite and I’ll be there with bells on! Or fur, anyway!