Halloween

Another October is upon us.  Of course those of us who think Halloween is the very best holiday of the year are thrilled (and simply without any of the guilt of Christmas or Easter, unless you count sneaking your kids tiny Twix from his booty pumpkin).  We have the big box of old costumes to play in, and the boys have been discussing what they want to dress up as for this Halloween since the last one came and went.  I never know what they are going to say, and it can deviate over the course of the ensuing months.  Yet, Segundo seemed to know with great conviction last winter that he absolutely HAD to be James Bond and asked every other week if I had gotten his “tuxedo” yet.

I am not such a fool as to show the entire Bond film collection to children under ten.  But for Christmas last year the family got all the Sean Connery Bonds on DVD and watched them over the course of several weekends.  They are just tame enough, just campy enough, not to be taken too seriously on the scare and sex and violence scales.

The allure of an adult spy with a wry sense of humor and lots of cool gadgets and cars is a no brainer; I was not surprised that Segundo (who is a wry and bright child) finds Bond so much fun.  Husband even joked that Segundo’s good female friend go as a Bond girl (something I do not think her progressive Mennonite parents would approve of).  A funny mental image, but I know Miss E would demand her own water pistol and think of herself more as an Emma Peel type (especially given her behavior at the boys last birthday party when she and Segundo played spies ALL day together).

The tiny tux was an easy Ebay find for under $30, and it included a shirt and slim bow tie.  The shoes are still hiding in some thrift store waiting for me to find them.  The water pistol is spray painted silver, and I hesitated at adding a small plastic martini glass- junking it up and going too far, no matter how momentarily cute.  Besides, the new Skyfall posters have no glasses (and thankfully no cigarettes like the old Connery posters).  Segundo is excited and is just waiting to transform.

Primo at first wanted to be Q from the Bond series, then changed his mind.  He figured it was too much like the mad scientist he went as last year.  After Thor came out on DVD, he was mesmerized.  Segundo cottoned to Captain America and Primo to Thor, as the super hero thing goes.  Their good friends took on Iron Man, Batman, and Spider Man, so all is well.  No competing duplicate heroes on play dates!  SO! One cheap Thor winged helmet and foam Thor hammer from Amazon, a red cape from the costume box, a breast plate from an old knight costume, black sweat pants, a long sleeved grey shirt I painted the lattice work black lines on, black rubber rain boots and viola! Mighty Thor for Primo!

We have been through a bee, dinosaur, ghost, cowboy, Frankenstein’s monster, Indiana Jones; a chef, robot, The Scarecrow (from Wizard of Oz), Dumbledore, The Man in the Yellow Hat (from Curious George), and mad scientist.  The boys have seen costumes on friends of juice boxes, a bag of candy, video game, etc. but they tend not to be interested in inanimate objects and go more for characters.  It is so fun to see them in any get up, but Halloween is special.  I think it is a time when we can take on alter egos, and feel brave (or naughty, or anything other than what we usually feel) and go out into the world.  I know I wish I could dress up with abandon again and just for a little while pretend.  It can get very weary being an adult, and I want to encourage my kids to use their imaginations to experiment with being whomever they can be and see how it feels, test those boundaries, and play out what it means to be “the good guy” and “the bad guy” in different, safe ways.

Schools don’t usually celebrate Halloween anymore, but have a “dress up day” some where in the weeks before Halloween as a concession to the holiday and the primal need for dress up play.  The boys will wear their costumes and have a trial run, getting home after school and gabbing loudly about who wore what.

I don’t go over the top decorating, and wish I had the energy to throw an old school Halloween party.  But again this year I’ll have to just enjoy giving out candy at the door and seeing all the wonderful children in costume.  I’ll put some scary music on the stereo and the pumpkins that the boys carved the week before will be lit (and maybe me too if I can grab a glass of wine), the plastic skeleton will hang from the tree out front and the fake headstone will poke through the front herb garden.  Husband will probably arrange to meet up with Other Dads down the street and walk the gang of kids from door to door.  Our neighborhood still revels in Halloween and people drive in from other neighborhoods to walk our streets.  Porches are decorated and lit, and streams of children run around noisily from five to nine p.m. going house to house.

People will stop and converse, neighbors touch base.  When the night is done and the kids are washing off any chocolate and make-up, the plastic pumpkins emptied and the goods sprawled on the kitchen table, I’ll walk out and extinguish the candles in the pumpkins outside (if the candles have not already melted out by then) and look at the sky.  Some years there has been a moon, some years just clouds.  A cool breeze usually blows, and bats flutter around streetlights to get at the last of the bugs.  Some teenagers will still be lurking around, the pre-driving years types; looking lost, caught between being a kid and being a full-on teen.

Yeah, I’ll sneak a Twix or a tiny Snickers and will quickly sort out the gum and odd candies from the loot and put it into our leftovers bowl for Husband to take to his students the next day.  The rest will get bagged and put into the pantry for the next several weeks’ worth of treats.

We will watch the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, and will have watched The Nightmare Before Christmas as part of our Halloween Eve ritual the night before.  The costumes will go into the dress up box, and discussions of what to go as next year will begin.

The holiday let down will happen, the decorations scooped up and taken to the basement the next day.   There will be a pause, the weather will get colder, and Thanksgiving will come and go.  The weekend after Thanksgiving the Christmas decorating begins, and Halloween will slide into memory again.

I adore the old Halloween decorations from the early twentieth century, and the old animated Disney Halloween films (easily visited on You Tube!).   The idea of carving a root vegetable (the original “pumpkin”) comes to mind every year, and jumping over a fire pit (but at my age it’s not a wise thing to do!); scaring away the fears that haunt us about the future, and making peace with our dead and the fear of death (I like the mashing up, the blurring that is occurring with the Latin Day of the Dead and Halloween).

Here comes fall, autumn, the harvest, the time of hunkering down and getting through the winter.  Happy Halloween out there, and if you get a chance- put on a costume and play.