Let's do this.Costume planning for Halloween usually began in September for my family. It was an unspoken rule that all costumes would be made from scratch, so they required a fair bit of forethought, lots of materials, and time to assemble. I decided what I wanted to be and Dad would figure out a way to transform me using cardboard, paint, fabric, and random household props. The result was a spectacular array of strange homemade costumes.
The best was the Knight in Shining Armour. Using varying sizes of sono tubes (the cylindrical cardboard molds used for pouring concrete footings), Dad made a set of hinged armour that fit my torso, legs, and arms. We painted it silver. I had a wooden sword, a cardboard shield, and a helmet with a movable visor. That year I won the prize for Best Costume at the local Halloween party. Over the years, our family costumes have included a paintbrush, a carrot with a leafy top, a sunflower, a traffic light, a fiddle-playing gypsy, a clown, an old woman and old man, a cat, a witch with a green Vaseline-smeared face, a princess, Cleopatra and Tutankhamen, the Invisible Man, and a Kit Kat bar.
In my preteen years, I felt self-conscious about my homemade costumes. My friends wore perfectly put together costumes that were exact replicas of whatever they were trying to imitate - no makeshift substitutes with whatever's at hand. I'll never forget the year my best friend was a go-go dancer, with a tight sequined body suit, white pleather boots, shimmery mask, and twirling baton. I was horribly jealous as we walked together in the school's Halloween parade. I was bumbling along in my yellow painted sandwich board, shining a flashlight through coloured cellophane. I was a traffic light, significantly less cool than a go-go dancer.
Despite those passing moments of jealousy, I'm so happy for my family's homemade Halloween tradition. I wouldn't trade my memories of those long nights of costume planning for anything. I realize now that making them myself gave my costumes a deeper meaning that my friends' store-bought outfits likely ever had.
This year, my three-year-old son wants to be a witch. I was tempted to grab a witch costume off the rack at the store because it would save me lots of time, but then I realized that I'd lose out on the satisfaction of showing him how to make a costume from scratch. Instead, I'll pick up some black Bristol board to make a pointy hat. I can use safety pins to turn a black bed sheet into a cloak. With a rough broom of twigs and my old black wig, no doubt he'll be the funniest-looking witch in town, but I bet he'll have the most fun putting it together. I can't wait to see his little face fill with joy as he witnesses his slow transformation.
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