It doesn’t take a person dressed in a costume of a brain surgeon or rocket scientist to recognize that the joy and perpetuation of Halloween traditions is not simply child’s play.
There’s no denying that kids love the opportunity to dress up, but many adults seem to enjoy it just as much, and embrace any occasion to let their hair down (or streak it blue) and utilize their costume-creating abilities.
Especially amusing is the degree to which parents and children take the costume making and wearing, and, when doing so, how each generation regards the other.
When our now 11-year-old son Nick was a baby, I spent hours excitedly creating a pumpkin costume for his momentous first Halloween.
Obviously, we were way more excited than he was.
Though the pumpkin costume was not physically imposing, we could hardly keep young Nick from crying long enough to take a picture to mark the occasion that meant so much to us, and absolutely nothing to him.
We hurried him into the car and drove him around to his grandparents’ for them to take pictures– he wasn’t eating much of anything at the time, let alone candy, so there wasn’t even a bright side for the poor little guy.
Through the years, Nick has become more tolerant of my efforts. He and our eight-year-old daughter Elena have worn a variety of borrowed, homemade and store bought costumes, all with varying degrees of parental input and participation. We’ve transitioned through cute, creepy, crass and comical.
Last year, Nick was Elvis; he (Nick, not Elvis) and I glued rhinestones onto a faux leather jacket purchased at a second hand store, and styled a wig from our own costume collection. With the exception of his height, weight and voice, he made a fine King, thank you very much.
Nick was pleased with the hair and the outfit and content to be done… but I could not resist the urge to continue. I borrowed a pair of compact mp3 speakers, sought out, located and copied hours of Elvis music and fashioned a hidden pack to be worn under his jacket. In my opinion this awesome addition helped create the perfect multi-faceted Halloween costume. In Nick’s opinion, the pack was cumbersome and the music irritating; he refused to wear it and I was, after wasting far too much time, all shook up.
Since the end of the summer, one particularly creative friend has been researching, planning and gathering pieces for a White Witch of Narnia costume. Lisa shared her elaborate plans with her daughter, figuring that eight-year-old Rachel would surely share her enthusiasm for this amazing vision.
It turned out that Rachel was not the least bit interested in being the White Witch but didn’t want to disappoint her mom. One day, however, her desire to follow her own creative design of Mary Poppins prompted her to find the courage to do so.
With my daughter Elena by her side, apparently for moral support, Rachel did her best to let her mom down easily. As Lisa pleaded her vision once more, in a last ditch attempt to sway her daughter’s choice and fulfill her own dream, an unexpected turn of events occurred. Elena thought that the idea sounded pretty great and declared that she would love to be the White Witch.
…which ushered in a different sort of awkward costume planning relationship: Lisa shares tidbits of well researched and meticulously documented costume information, kindly conscious of stepping on my creative toes, but not able to part entirely with her well-conceived homemade version of this costume.
I only hope I can live up to her expectations.
At a recent 40th birthday party, guests were asked to come in costumes reminiscent of clothes typically worn in 1967. The extent to which most of these adults collected pieces for, assembled and flaunted their costumes made the group a sight to behold.
Our kids would have been most impressed to see the large gathering of party-goers, many sporting long flowing wigs somewhat tamed by headbands or round-lensed glasses propped on their heads. Brightly coloured tie-dyed shirts were complemented by a variety of over-stated homemade and store-bought accessories.
As the world of pretend is a wonderful and exciting place, it’s no surprise that kids love to dress up and visit there frequently. If didn’t understand the adults’ interest before, it became completely clear that night as I heard more than one be-wigged 40-something male speak wistfully about the opportunity to, once again, have an abundance of hair.