Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lucky

We had a fabulous time at our neighbor's annual Halloween bash. As per the earlier blog post, I invested a limited amount of funds and a lot of time, love, and hot glue into four costumes that really looked fantastic. Not a single person at the party wasn't in costume, which made the whole night that much more festive.

That's everyone.
Paolo and I got this close to Joe!
While I've been pretty good about taking a break from Facebook, I seem to relapse during the weekends. Maybe it's because the past few weekends have been pretty fantastic and I just have to share. Last week's PSU/NU football game (the one that was Free! Free! Free!) rocked and this weekend's Halloween party was equally rocking. Sorry for the inconsistency, for anyone that has noticed. But as I started pulling together the family's costumes, I just couldn't help but send photos to my Facebook wall.  I also sent a photo to a friend via text and after a few exchanges, she wrote, "Seriously, your kids don't know how lucky they are to have such a creative mom!"

And the nutty thing is, she's right. They don't know. I'm not trying to high-five myself on my creativity -- I'm just acknowledging the fact that my kids have not yet had to wing it on their own, without my ideas or my elbow grease. They've had a combined 19 years of over-the-top (but never expensive) birthday parties and Halloween costumes that were the result of my never-stop-marketing-brain, my stone-cold devotion to anything Martha Stewart does and my tireless attention to details. Let's face it: I'm a pain in the ass when it comes to this stuff. Nothing is ever phoned in. There are no short cuts. If I could buy it at the store, wouldn't it be even better if I made it from scratch at home instead? Carlo generally retreats to the  bedroom or under the closest rock for the 4- to 6-weeks I spend planning the month of birthday parties. And there is barely any recovery time between the last birthday party and Halloween. No rest for the wicked here.

I've admitted to being my own worst enemy with this stuff.  I've also tried to back off a bit in the past year or so. While seeing the joy on my kids' faces when a well-planned birthday party comes together is just wonderful, the 4- to 6-weeks of sleepless nights and agonizing Hell I go through (and put Carlo through) prior to the big day usually isn't worth it. At about age 37, I learned that kids are happy to just have pizza and cake with their friends. They also like the gifts.  If I can provide pizza, cake and friends with gifts, it's all good.

I had young parents when I was still interested in Halloween. In fact, they were so young then, that they were STILL young when I wasn't interested in Halloween (Note: My mom was 37 when I graduated from high school (not intended as a math lesson, but I'm 39 now)).  While I was interested in Halloween, my divorced Mom was working non-lucrative jobs and dating. Our Halloween preparation usually involved driving into town to either the Rea & Derrick on Market or Grand Way on Fourth to pick up one of those gross, boxed costumes -- the plastic smock and face mask combo. I can still smell that chemically mix of plastic and toxins upon opening the box it came in. I clearly remember being Shirley (of Laverne & Shirley fame) one year. 

I wasn't the only one wearing those dumb-ass plastic train-wrecks. There were tons of other kids in those kind of costumes.  Hell, I wasn't even the only Shirley Feeney that year. The Disney Store and Costume Center and Halloween City didn't exist back then: you just had to go asshole-to-elbow with every other mom in town at Rea & Derrick and Grand Way just a few days before Halloween to get your bland, stinky costume. 

Smaller in number, but still present, were the handful of kids whose mom's or grandma's had sewing machines and knew how to use them. They had the costumes to be envied. Authentic looking Raggedy Anns and Holly Hobbies,  old school Luke Skywalkers and Six Million Dollar Men: they were all the offspring of moms who could sew and made time to make costumes.  

Now that I think about it, I may have been a plastic smask (smock-mask) Raggedy Ann one year, too.

When I was just about the age when Halloween might have been considered too 'babyish,'  but I still desperately wanted to take a break from secretly playing with my Barbies and go beg for candy, my Dad serendipitously came up with one of the coolest costumes I've ever had (up until I started making my own a few years ago for our neighbor's annual party!). I was at his house for the weekend and it must have been the city's sanctioned night for trick or treating, but we had no plan. No plans with friends or family. It was just a Saturday night. Love Boat would be on eventually and then I'd go to bed. 

I can't remember how the conversation got started, but my Dad decided he could whip up a costume and he'd take me out trick or treating. I was skeptical. There was no going shopping for supplies. It was past 5 pm and the sanctioned hours had either started or were about to start. We had to move fast. 

Dad converted me into one of the most convincing scarecrows in the history of all scarecrows. After putting me in a thermal shirt and one of his giant flannel shirts, he shoved either a 2x4 or an old broom stick through the sleeves of the flannel shirt so that I had 'fake' scarecrow arms (my real arms were at my sides, and I think I had enough movement under the shirt to carry my plastic pumpkin bucket for candy retrieval). I recall wearing large denim overalls - not sure where they came from, but he got them. With make-up and a straw hat, I was good to go. And we went. I was one bad ass Scarecrow ... long before we even knew what bad ass meant. I was one bad ass Scarecrow that couldn't get into the doors of people's homes without turning sideways:  the costume was great, but it wasn't easy to get around in and to any child about 4-1/2 feet tall and within a 3 foot radius, I was dangerous.

That was a good Halloween and quite possibly one of a handful of events in my young years where getting creative in the 11th hour was modeled for me. And now, I model it for my kids all the time (although I plan ahead - I hate the 11th hour). I also have the advantage of having the internet as a resource, Halloween costume shops on every corner of this beautiful city I live in and the fact that my kids aren't with me only on the weekends -- I get them every day of their lives. 

My kids -- and my husband -- loved the costumes. We were all beating each other down to admire ourselves in the full-length mirror on the foyer closet door before we headed next door for the party. They all liked the authenticity of their looks and knew I worked hard to get them there. 

But I still don't think they know how lucky they are. And I have to say that I am kind of glad that my kids don't know how lucky they are. 

My kids have had the amazing advantage of having both biological parents living in the same house with them. They have two parents that are always considering their plans and happiness and well-being at all times. They have one parent that lies awake at night obsessing about whether it'll all be good enough so they'll grow up happy, intelligent, compassionate people who want to take the time to make Halloween costumes and bake cakes from scratch and enroll their kids in pricey Ice Hockey and Figure Skating lessons. Yeah, they have no idea how lucky they are and while I do occasionally feel unappreciated in this traditional role of Mom and Wife that I signed up for a few years ago, I will say that I'm overjoyed that they don't know how lucky they are. 

Maybe when they are parents of their own, they'll get it. Hopefully, they'll get it and want to make their kids even luckier than they were. I'm sure at least one of them will try to tell me what a hard life they had. Jerks.

And on that note, here's how we fared for our Halloween party.

We were all monsters of some sort.
All her real hair!







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