Why 37days?

"During my teen years, for Halloween, I went as a registered voter." – Martha Plimpton

PumpkinsThere’s just nothing more depressing to me than half-hearted Halloween costumes, those teenaged boys with a toothpick hanging out of their mouth who say they’re a hillbilly or kids who’ve done nothing but take a pillow case from Mama’s bed to hold all the loot. The ones who get a real talking to are the ones who come dressed as bums, as if that’s acceptable behavior. Of course, Halloween lends itself to stereotypes, but to imitate homeless people for sport is beyond the pale. Little do they expect a lecture on socio-economic differences, a booklet about homelessness, and a tiny box of raisins reserved just for that kind of conscious or unconscious callousness.

Monkees_davy_1No, you need to work harder and smarter for your candy. I need to see some thought, some creativity, some energy about it, some investment of brain power, some foam core. Gone are the days when hard plastic masks and mass-produced costumes would do; those days of being Davy Jones or Mickey Dolenz for Halloween are over.

The older the kids, the less they can be bothered with the pretense of dressing up. The young ones are all sparkly and enchanting in their long flowing princess costumes and Harry Potter robes and spiky dinosaur heads; they truly believe in the magic of the evening, the glory of becoming the character of their dreams, the kindness of strangers, the thrill of the unknown, while the teenagers just seem bored, angry that they have to go through the charade just to score a micro-sized Snickers bar, sullen and embarrassed at showing excitement. Hmm…a metaphor for life?

Chinese_takeout_halloween_1Here in our house, we’re a big believer in making our own costumes—none of those Wal-Mart bat capes made of petroleum products for this crowd. It’s a family endeavor shored up with Emma’s quirky sense of humor and John’s love (and endless supply) of foam core. Add a touch of Classic Over Achiever, and you’ve got some fantastic creations: a washing machine with socks hanging out of the door and a box of detergent spilling out on top, a Chinese take-out box with big noodles and real fortune cookies around the open top and an aluminum handle like the real thing, and this year—a refrigerator with magnetic paint on the front and magnets holding up family photos, grocery lists, and reminders (her little sister an accompanying tiny carton of soy milk), each of those creations with little hidden compartments that open from the inside to accept the candy, much to the delight of surprised neighbors. 

Going literary is also impressive in my book and, in fact, warrants the highest reward. If you come to my door dressed in a sailor suit and say “Call me Ishmael” rather than “Trick or Treat,” you’ll likely get the whole bucket of sugar.  For sure, you’ll get the King Size Twix and Temporary Tattoos that say “Eracism,” my not so subtle Diversity Training Disguised as Halloween Treat. Artistic reference will also work: A big straw hat, a bloodied bandage around your head, European looking wide-legged pants, wooden clogs, a sunflower, a palette and paint brushes will also reap big rewards. I myself so enjoyed being Tippi Hedren in “The Birds” one year with my smart vintage Chanel suit and pumps, a blond flipped up wig, fake blood, and plastic black birds attached to my head, neck, and torso. Another standout was the 6th grader dressed as a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, complete with pasta twirled around a huge fork.

Pippifilm72dpiOf course, my personal favorite was dressing up one year as my she-ro, Pippi Longstocking. Already equipped with the long orange hair and freckles, it was a snap to transform myself with boots three sizes too big, a stuffed monkey sewed to my shoulder, two different colored socks, and my hair braided in pigtails around a coat hanger so each braid would stick straight out to the side and swoop up at the ends. For all intents and purposes, I became the spitting image of Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Eprhraim’s Daughter Longstocking, to use her full name. Imagine my horror when the uncouth and unread masses in my neighborhood kept asking who on earth I was. “Do these people not read?” I remember asking my father as I reunited with him at the sidewalk. I was eight at the time; he smiled and took my hand.

~*~ 37 Days: Do it Now Challenge ~*~

Put a little effort into living

Consider the metaphors: Eschew the pre-fab costumes and make your own. Go for the King Size Twix bar. Give it all you’ve got.

patti digh says:

Nancy – thanks for the memories of Raggedy Ann – one of my favorite dolls is a handmade Raggedy Ann with an embroidered heart underneath, made by my friend Meg when we were younger…Thanks for stopping by – I’m always glad to meet another Pippi…!

Nancy F. says:

My favorite costume of all was when I was Raggedy Ann. I too, came equipped with the red hair. I even had a heart pinned on my undershirt under my dress.

The next year, I was Pippi Longstocking, borrowing a sock monkey from a neighbor as I had none of my own.

My favorite costumes of all time were when my sister and her husband took out their twin girls. The girls each had on a custom made “cow” costume, my sister was also dressed up in a ready made cow costume and my bro in law was dressed up as the farmer.

I’ve been looking for pictures of that night, but somehow, my sis and bro-in law have hidden them. Ratfinks.

patti digh says:

Hilde! This really made me laugh – I can’t believe you didn’t go for the Elvis idea! I had forgotten all about that… Thanks for the note – and the info on St. Martin’s Day – let me know if you want me to send the Elvis costume to you! ;-)

Hilde says:

In 1993 a certain P. wanted me to wear a white Elvis costume at a Halloween party!!!
I could escape the party and the costume and instead listen to medieval music in a church in Washington D.C., thanks to Johns particular liking!! Although Halloween spread over to Germany it limits to wild partys. And concerning King Size Twix: In the evening of Saint’s day of Martin (November, 11th) kids from kindergarden and elementary school go from house to house asking for sweets (without costumes, but singing). And creativity is shown by their handmade lanterns they are walking with.
Best wishes

patti digh says:

Cindy – yes, it’s definitely the creative process and all the laughter together that makes the meaning, all of us pitching in crazy ideas and figuring out together how to make them a reality, letting Emma see the power of having her wild idea become real, teaching her how to make things…There’s nothing like it! And in a teenager’s world, there are fewer and fewer of these whole-family opportunities for creativity, fun, the sense of satisfaction at the final product…it’s magical!

Cindy says:

As a non-American and no-kids, my only participation to Hallowen is to make sure I have something for the ‘bags’.

In my view, the value of making your own constumes is not in making them, but spending valuable time together. Which, unfortunately, many families don’t seem to have enough these days.


patti digh says:

Mike – I agree about fun being food for the spirit – and I also know that sometimes when adults are childlike, we imagine they need medication or a short “vacation” in a quiet place – As for your costume, I think Samuel Beckett Waiting For Someone is a good choice…or perhaps you could dress in a Hawaiian shirt and carry a bottle of Prozac (tropical depression?). Either will score the giant Twix bar!

More than 3 years ago I was convinced to walk the streets of Cologne in costume. Without planning I had arrived during Carnival. I resisted at first. Not for me I said. But I was given baggy clothes and the painted face of a clown and sent out into the old city to celebrate. I did just that. And there was good in doing so for my spirit.

Your posting reminds me of something Maria Girsch says; being creative is remembering what you were like as a child and being like that again now that you are an adult.

Annual whole-hearted custome making for us adults might just be what I need. Lets see…I want the entire bowl of sugar…what liteary costum shall it be? Where did I put that foam core?

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