Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beware: Tricks of the Season

Halloween is upon us. I won't take the time to address those who are afraid of the holiday. If you are one of those people, we just can't be friends. Just kidding! But I'm not. So if you keep reading, I'm going to assume that you are content to dress your children in various plastic finery and let them eat more sugar than they had that day you let them eat breakfast from the candy bowl.

When you think about it, it really is a strange holiday. Many holidays are, when you break them down into the events and colors that represent them. Obviously, a holiday is more than the sum of its parts, even if the parts are pagan! Many of our holidays (even Christmas) are rooted in some way to pagan celebration. Despite their origins, I think that it is the spirit in which you celebrate holidays that dictates your innocence in the matter.

Therefore, I let my kids hunt for Easter eggs, and I really don't care if they think the egg is symbolic of a tomb. They know why we celebrate Easter, and all the extra fun stuff is simply just that. Same goes for Santa, Frosty and Rudolph at Christmas. Though there is a religious side to the All Hallow Holiday, I can't say that we actually celebrate it. We don't go around talking about all the saints of our faith who are now deceased. We could, I guess. And we do talk about the Bible Heroes who are no longer with us, just as we talk about loved ones who are the same. But we don't dress up like Saint Beatrice or Martin Luther or St. Francis. Again, I guess we could...but quite honestly it seems weird.

I dressed up for Halloween when I was a kid. Most of the time it was a homemade costume. Sometimes, moms and dads (haha! like dads help at all) are able to make very cool, kitchy costumes at home. My parents just didn't want to pay for a plastic blue sheet from the dollar store that would have transformed me into the most beautiful of raindrops. One year I was Pippy Longstocking, which meant that I got to spray my hair Cheeto-orange and wear untwisted wire hangers in my hair. It wasn't very comfortable, and I got asked all day long who I was supposed to be. This is not the sign of a good costume.

In a sad attempt to reclaim my childhood, I try to do all the stuff with my kids that I wish my parents had done with me. I take the girls to the pumpkin farm, they pick a few out, we color them. I make hot cocoa with big fat gooey marshmallows and snuggle with them on the couch while they watch The Great Pumpkin movie. We bake pumpkin bread, frost bat shaped cookies, and plan the big costuming day waaaaay in advance.

Moira is a spring baby, which means her first Halloween was spent trying to hold her head up long enough to spit up all down the back portion of my shoulder. I put her in a white cotton onesie and drew a lightning bolt scar on her forehead with some eyeliner (Harry Potter themed party). But the next year, I was ready for Moira to have the Whole Halloween Experience.

She was a chicken, and a very cute one at that. She could make chicken noises and flap her little stuffed feathers. Halloween is often Very Very Hot in Phoenix, unless your child is dressed as Jasmine or Ariel. Traditional Trick or Treating wasn't an option for us, as we lived on a Scary Street In Which Our Neighbor Got Shot. Add to that the infernal temperatures and a warm costume, and come October 31st we headed to the mall. It wasn't Everything I Imagined, but was still fun. She took her little bucket up to the Big Scary Candy Giver and said (as they all must) "twick oh tweet!"

The next year, Moira was soooo very into the Princess craze. I didn't even have to ask what she wanted to be, I only had to supply the money for this teeny costume:

Sparkly shoes and all. She wore this dress proudly, and as often as I would let her. All of a sudden, costumes were no longer just for Halloween. And the love of All Things Frosted and BeRibboned was born. She took to wearing them to bed, to the grocery store, and to church if allowed. I usually let her, because she looked cute and after all, I thought...isn't dress-up a short lived phase? We put small coat hooks all around her room, so she could change costumes at will. We no longer had to use spanking or time outs, as taking away a dress was so much more effective. Dress up, princesses, too-big shoes, floppy was her life.

Pretty soon it was time to add another child into the dress-up mix. This time I was armed with more than eyeliner; I had a pumpkin.

We went to the pumkin farm about 17 times that year, just enjoying the families and the corn maze and the colors and that lovely rush and swoosh in your belly as you realize that it is almost time yet again to drink cider.

Moira wore this dress for each and every visit. It wasn't a princess dress, but it was certainly festive. All the right colors, little pictures of pumpkins and witches...there is obviously a small window of opportunity to wear this dress, and she darn near beat that window to pieces.

She taught Sabra all about the farm, how to pour dry corn into a bowl and feed the goats. She also passed along the wisdom and importance of wearing costumes. In just a few short months...

Sabra was visiting her Mickey Butthole friends (I SWEAR, she called them that...twas a very funny take on Mickey's Clubhouse)

She clapped her grubby little hands and delighted in the magic and splendor of it all.

So did Moira...

And the months wore on, something very unexpected happened. She started wearing jeans. And skirts. Sundresses, t-shirts, shorts....but no princess dresses. There was far less ballet dancing, and much more sassy talk. She said that while she still liked princesses, she just wanted to explore some other areas of play. (And that might be verbatim. She is her father's child.) We sent some princess stuff to Kendall, and put others away for when she had friends over. The little coat hooks came down. I was a little sad, but not too much. After all, she still watched the movies and played pretend. She was just coming down from her Princess High.

We were able to go to Disneyland again, and Moira swore up and down that she didn't care about meeting the Princesses. But then the power came over her...

And pretty soon she had to have a dress...

And it was all so very real, and fun, and magical again.

But it didn't really last. She likes the dress, still has it. She wears it when other friends want to play dress-up. But now...the princesses have boyfriends. They go to dances. Not ballet dances. And I thought that this Belle dress would be perfect for Halloween. But Moira didn't feel that way. No, the days of collecting candy in candy colored cloth were over. She was ready to move on. So I got Sabra's Donald Duck costume, sadly fingering the sweet little princess dresses.

Moira is going to be Hannah Montana this year. It is a cute little get-up, sparkly and still pinkish. But it feels like we are being swept through a strange portal of time that is robbing us both of the Jolly Sweet Era Of Little Girls! I'm not ready for it, and I never thought I would be that way. I do celebrate the fact that she is older, she can read, she has to have 'space'. But at five years old, I'm not ready for her to say good-bye to Belle and Cinderella.

I'll help her get dressed, help her look Rock Star Cool. And we'll go collect candy from total strangers, hoping they haven't poisoned us with their crizazy snacks. But I already can't bear to think of next year. Will she be past the Hannah phase? What will be next? Will I be ready?

Is it ok if look at her ten years from now and still just see this?

Happy Halloween. I'm going to be dressed as a neurotic mother this year. Toss me a Snickers.

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