I have been an avid fan for as long as I can remember. If I am honest I am sure that some of my love for the “holiday” comes from me being able to be someone other than myself. I am sure this was the case when I was a kid and I think a little bit of that feeling of not having to be me for one night has carried over into adulthood.
My first costume memories were those old boxed costumes that were made up of a plastic smock imprinted with the image of a gown, dress, uniform or suit and the dreaded mask that seemed to look the same for every character. We just thought we were “all that” while parading around in one of those costumes.
Although the description on the box always said it contained a “ventilated mask”, I remember never really being able to breathe and/or the mask filling up with hot air and my face sweating profusely. The eyes never seemed to be positioned so that one could actually see and the jagged edges where the eye holes were cut out would dig into the corners of your eye. The flimsy elastic band that was supposed to hold the mask around your head would, without fail, snap halfway through trick-or treating and you would end up holding the mask in front of your face for the rest of your trick-or-treat adventure.
But still, we loved those costumes. My favorite was always Cinderella or a just a generic princess.
There was a point in time when I really began to hate these “costumes” especially when I started to notice other kids wearing all different kinds of costumes; they weren’t plastic smocks – they looked like real articles of clothing. There was no longer the parade of boxed costumes everywhere and some of these newfangled costumes did not even have a mask! Gasp! What was this sorcery?
But in our house, if we couldn’t find or put together a costume from articles of clothing or items that we already had, the boxed costume was the only other option. It would be a few years before I was able to partake.
When I finally graduated out of the boxed costume, I remember a gown. I know it was not purchased for me to wear as a costume (we did not do that, remember?). I think it was my mother’s. I do not remember why she had it. She may have been in a play or something when she was younger, but I was in heaven! Heaven!
I remember that gown like it was yesterday. It was a peachy/pink color and lacy and I am sure in reality did not look as gorgeous as it did in my head but I sure did believe that I was just the living end when I wore that gown.
I don’t have any photos of that gown or of me wearing it. Halloween was not a big deal to my parents so the family Halloween photo was never a thing when I was younger. I do believe that there may be the random Halloween family photo of my younger brothers, but I have never seen any of me or my next in age brother.
I wore that gown for years. After dragging it across sidewalks and catching it on my shoes, tree branches, shrubs or anything else I would happen to walk by on my trick-or-treat route, it looked a little bit worse for wear. But still I continued to wear it since I was not going to get a store bought costume and was too big (and too cool, of course) for the plastic boxed costumes. I suppose that I could have gone the “hobo/bum” route that my brothers took every . single . year, because one could do that easily with stuff we already had laying around – a flannel shirt, a stick with the kerchief, a little dirt to your face and ….voila – a Hobo.
But I always wanted to be pretty and wearing the princess gown and maybe even some makeup always made me feel pretty. I loved Halloween because I got to feel pretty for that night. To this day, Halloween is the only day of the year that I wear lipstick – if the costume calls for it, of course.
I was around 11 or 12 when I decided that I was just too cool for trick-or-treating and costumes. That decision was largely based on the fact that my friends did not think it cool any more. That happened to be the same year that Halloween was just about cancelled. There had been a growing epidemic over the past few Halloween’s of razor blades in apples, laxatives disguised as chocolate, and so many other evils, that many people (at least in our area) did not let their children go out for trick-or-treat at all. Back in those days there were no safe Halloween trick-or-treat parties at firehouses or held by civic organizations as there are today. Halloween was trick-or-treating or nothing. I remember our doorbell ringing only once and my mother being shocked that it rang at all.
Even though Halloween was about over for me; because…. being too cool and all – I was sad thinking that this might very well be the end of it for everyone. Fortunately that did not turn out to be the case and things got right back to normal the following year.
Fast forward to my 20’s when I discovered that Halloween was not over for me at all! There were parties. Parties with costumes. It was in my 20’s when I honed the skill of using powder eye shadow on my face instead of the gloppy pasty stuff they sold for Halloween face color. I came up with some pretty good costume ideas but more often than not, I got so involved in helping my friends come up with and put together their costumes that my ideas ended up being thrown together at the last minute. They still came out relatively well, but they did not look like what I originally had pictured in my head. I was the Halloween Costume Queen…. but for every one else, not always for me.
Then came Halloween at work. Back in the raggedy princess gown days I would never have imagined that I would still be celebrating Halloween after the age of 12 or 13 and certainly not at the office.
I will admit to being just a tad “high pressure” when it comes to Halloween…. but really – If everyone would just follow directions, fall in line and embrace the theme (there must always be a theme), it would all go so much more smoothly…..
No pressure at all.
When DC was born I had happy visions of walking the neighborhood with him just like when I was a kid. I managed to control myself on his first Halloween as he was less than a year old and went with the standard baby pumpkin costume.
The following year we all dressed in Star Trek attire – which was also not over the top for him; he just had to wear a shirt. The next year I started to try to add to the costumes (makeup, hair color) just to see how far he would let me go costume-wise.
Let’s just say, it did not go well. He did it; but getting everything on him was not fun and I had to give up on much of the make-up and hair color spray. Once on, he did all right, but I knew I had to rein it in next year. Fortunately I did not scar him for life about Halloween.
When he was 4 I started noticing that Disney costumes were becoming more available we were able to find a Peter Pan – one of his favorites at the time. This is where we turned a corner and right there…. he was sold….
He was just thrilled to realize that he could be any Disney character that he wanted to be; and he has been quite a few over the years. Of course, I would always dress right along with him and our costumes were/are always compatible.
When he got older I began noticing that he was having a hard time choosing between all of the characters available and since there were now parties to attend as well – I let him start picking out a few different costumes for the parties. Now…. you might say that we have gotten carried away or that I am spoiling him but, the list of things and activities that DC really cares about is limited, so if he loves Halloween and costumes; I am going to do what I can to see that he has a great time with it. Maybe, just maybe, having to wear that same ragged princess dress year after year plays into it a bit – maybe just a tad.
But I will tell you, for a kid who has to have tags cut out of everything and many other sensory issues, he will do and wear just about anything when it comes to Halloween – make-up, wigs, bald caps glued to his head or scars glued on to his face, eyebrows, mustaches and just about anything but a mask. I can’t say that I blame him there.
His party costumes are all about him. Our Halloween night costumes are all about us (more so now than when he was younger). They are about things that both of us enjoy. There have been plenty of times that no one knew who or what we were or I wasn’t as hilariously clever as I thought I was, but we do not care. We know who we are and we have fun.
He is 26 now. I never imagined Halloween would still be thrill for him and I love that it is something that we can go all out and overboard about together…. I hope he never tires of it.
We have already been to two parties so far this season and are looking forward to a few more before Halloween night rolls around. As he walked in to the dance held by his work/day program last week, one of the staff said to me: “Look at him just walking in to the party with all of that on, looking so comfortable like he is wearing his regular every day clothes.”
Yep, that’s my “boy”…….
Be sure to visit our Halloween Page: We Love Halloween! We love it so much, we gave it it’s own page.