Saturday Morning at 10:44am


It’s Hallowe’en. This means goblins, monsters, ghosts, witches, to many. Here, it’s a sentimental holiday. You know how every mom has a mothering skill they put in their pocket and touch like a lucky rabbit’s foot? Thinking, “Yes, I did a good job. Or at least meant well.” In our house, that’s Hallowe’en. Apostrophe and all.

Take costumes, for example. I insisted that they be homemade. For years.

Let me just say that my daughter was a strong-willed girl. Brought me to my knees, as a mother of young children, but somehow I had sense enough not to try to break her. Or perhaps I am convincing myself that what I could not do was in fact intentional. In any case, my daughter, for the first many years of trick or treating, would dress as heroic creatures of one sort or another. The first Hallowe’en, Tin Woodman.


As you can no doubt tell, I made that. The Scotch Tape is magic. Really.


The next year, she was Peter Pan. I can’t sew. A friend made it. I believe in team efforts.

My son was, well, himself. One year he wanted to be a potato. OK. I got a sheet and made it into a huge bag. Doesn’t really count as sewing, does it? I dyed it brown in the washing machine and gathered areas into little potato “eyes.” Then we filled it with foam rubber pieces. By the middle of the evening all the foam rubber had fallen to the bottom of the bag, making it impossible for him to walk. Luckily he bounced when he fell over. I had to carry his costume from then on, pointing and explaining to skeptics at the doors.

The next year I told him he couldn’t be anything globular. “But Mom,” he said, “I want to be a doorknob.” I drew the line. He went as an origami display. And that was the end of homemade costumes. The next year, a Ninja. No photos of his costumes because any extant are somewhere in an envelope, in a shoe box, in a pile of piles. Second child syndrome.

Take trick or treating. A ritual.

We cruised the streets with my best friend and her pack. Dinner at my house first. Hallow Weenies. Hot dogs cut into pieces and stood on end. Rice, shaped like little ghosts. Haunted broccoli forests. Yeah. Just what you imagine. Stopped short of saying the ketchup was blood. The kids weren’t big enough to be sure it was actually made of tomatoes.

The night was charged enough that we had to set rules to keep peace. My son in the front. Otherwise my friend’s daughter would have run so fast from door to door we would have been watching her in the distance. Almost in tears. She runs track now, in college.

Returning from the foray, our kids would lay their candy out on my living room rug. Sort. Count. Categorize. Trade. Gloat. There was enough. More than enough. Hallowe’en was one of those times when we could know we had done it right. Motherhood doesn’t come with flashing lights or electronic voices crying, “Winner! Winner! Winner!” So you take those moments where you find them and bow down before the massed troops of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In awe.

Whether it mattered or not, I don’t know. But it was true. It was a true reflection of who we all were. I see that now. I couldn’t know then. We just had to try our best in the dark.

Images
Posted with full permission of the subject. I may be foolhardy but I am not insane.

And I may have told the story of my son’s potato costume before. That happens, at this age. My apologies in advance but it’s one of my favorites. I mean, come on, a potato?

22 Comments

  • 10/31/09
    11:27 am

    Reply

    QueenBeeSwain said...

    I love your Halloween stories- some of my fav' familial memories are the Halloween ones :)

    xoox

    kHm

  • 10/31/09
    11:45 am

    Reply

    Anoninoz said...

    This is wonderful – we don't really go in for Halloween here in UK but so LOVE the idea of the potato costume – really made me laugh!!

  • 10/31/09
    12:30 pm

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    Mrs. G said...

    Great halloween story. I have many too that are very much like yours. Good remembering, I can't remember a one of mine right now to save my life. They were great though, really I am sure they were great ;) Enjoy the moment!

  • 10/31/09
    1:02 pm

    Reply

    Mrs. Lynch said...

    I love your posts.As I write this I'm preparing to get the girls (not the ones under my chin) dolled up.I love the potato costume though..too cute

  • 10/31/09
    3:51 pm

    Reply

    Deja Pseu said...

    Fabulous stories! I wish I had time to make costumes. My best Hallowe'en skill is pumpkin carving.

  • 10/31/09
    5:42 pm

    Reply

    Lindy said...

    I love the Reynolds Wrap tin man costume; your daughter looks so happy in it. My mother made my first costume (a pumpkin) out of a dyed sheet and I thought she was a genius. Your daughter looks lovely in Peter Pan green.

  • 10/31/09
    7:55 pm

    Reply

    {Bellamere Cottage} said...

    Awesome post….I loved the potato story.

    Blessings,
    Spencer

  • 11/01/09
    4:45 am

    Reply

    Jill said...

    I was always a gypsy…my best friend Mandy insisted on being Batman. Even though she was a year older, I tended to boss her around. I would try and try to talk her out of it, but no…every year I had Batman as my sidekick.

  • 11/01/09
    5:36 am

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    It's a very interesting child who wants to be a doorknob or an piece of origami, congratulations.
    My most remarkable costume was in the '70s, when I went to a party as a gram of cocaine, which involved a drycleaning bag, duct tape and a LOT of icing sugar.

  • 11/01/09
    6:02 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    I think I did many elements of Hallowe'en well, but I rarely made a costume — we tended to improvise from "found materials" as had been the custom in my family. Funny, since I sewed a lot at the time. Now I feel a bit cheated, never having given myself the opportunity to make a potato! — and seriously, you died the sheet first? That's true commitment!

  • 11/01/09
    6:20 am

    Reply

    Buckeroomama said...

    I love this post. I love it all the more that you included stories about your children. :)

    "Let me just say that my daughter was a strong-willed girl. Brought me to my knees, as a mother of young children, but somehow I had sense enough not to try to break her. Or perhaps I am convincing myself that what I could not do was in fact intentional."

    I somehow feel that I just might be saying the same thing of Z… especially the "brought me to my knees" part!

  • 11/01/09
    7:16 am

    Reply

    smiles4u said...

    Love, love, love this statement…
    "Let me just say that my daughter was a strong-willed girl. Brought me to my knees, as a mother of young children, but somehow I had sense enough not to try to break her. Or perhaps I am convincing myself that what I could not do was in fact intentional."…so many of us have been brought to our knees over our children.

    And this statement is so true of motherhood…" Motherhood doesn't come with flashing lights or electronic voices crying, "Winner! Winner! Winner!" So you take those moments where you find them and bow down before the massed troops of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. In awe. Whether it mattered or not, I don't know. But it was true. It was a true reflection of who we all were. I see that now. I couldn't know then. We just had to try our best in the dark." Love it!

    Great post! Thanks for making me smile this morning!

  • 11/01/09
    7:48 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    We're all trying our best in some sort of dark or other, right? The potato child is an original kid, and the girl still looks good in Peter Pan green, and pale purple, and yellow, and bronze, and oh yes, red. Redheads have a different relationship with color than the rest of us. I hope you all had a wonderful Hallowe'en. Found materials counts as making costumes, BTW, especially if you have to take out the glue gun at any point.

  • 11/01/09
    10:14 am

    Reply

    ELS said...

    How funny, I was in Belgium for years – a well-kept European secret. I bet she's having a ball. It's a wonderful place. Unless you're an arsey 18 year old like I was. Thank you so much for stopping by – have long read your blog and adore your peaceful thoughtful take on this world. Very flattering you visited – please come back.
    Ex

    PS – Fay Weldon said recently – motherhood is to guilt as grapes are to wine.

    I love your observations on how hard we try to get it all right.

  • 11/01/09
    11:17 am

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    Lisa, I love this post. And the heart on your adorable daughter's tin man costume! I too, have "warm, fuzzy" mothering memories from Halloweens when they were young and under my juristiction. This year, the 15 year old was forced to call me every hour so I'd know she was alive…

  • 11/01/09
    3:34 pm

    Reply

    Sher said...

    LOL! That's what makes them unforgetable memories ;)

  • 11/01/09
    3:43 pm

    Reply

    Jan said...

    Okay, I may be a day late and a dollar short, but this made me ROFLMAO!

    I, too, am the mother of a strong-willed daughter. I have not broken her spirit; she is still charming and irresponsible. REALLY charming and REALLY irresponsible. Middle child syndrome in spades. *sigh*

    I would LOVE to see the potato costume. My ex made the kids' costumes when they were small and was brilliant at it – one year, Oldest Son wanted to be an Alien (yes, from the movie Alien. My husband dressed him entirely in black, made a spine-thingy out of I'm not sure what and an Alien head out of a 3-liter Coke bottle; it was absolutely the coolest thing I'd ever seen. He would have made your son a rockin' doorknob.

  • 11/01/09
    11:14 pm

    Reply

    lordfam said...

    I think that strong women create strong daughters…I married a redhead with a serious Scottish background and sparks do fly…I have a very similar photo of our feisty daughter in a rabbit costume…with an attitude of course! In our clan the Campbells married the MacDonalds…a witching brew for sure!
    Gotta love that red hair!

  • 11/02/09
    2:07 pm

    Reply

    The Preppy Princess said...

    Ah yes, the conversations over costumes… at times better described as shouting matches. This brings back memories Miss LPC, almost all of them good. For the life of me I can't remember why we counted up everything, I am thinking perhaps we swapped with siblings, trading one of 'these' for two or three of 'those,' that is a rather vague recollection.

    Your Peter Pan is darling, and the tale of the Potato hysterical, like a bad Barney!

    Love this one,
    tp

  • 11/02/09
    2:17 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    The stories quoted here are fantastic. And a mention of Fay Weldon is always welcome. If I ever dress up again I'm going as the Lives and Loves of A She-Devil.

  • 11/03/09
    12:11 pm

    Reply

    Meg said...

    Whoah. Whoah. She looks like you. A LOT like you.

    A doorknob? Hee. I think he and my husband would have been best friends. I think I might end up with a boy just like that.

  • 11/05/09
    3:46 am

    Reply

    Kristen said...

    Hahahaha, a potato! Love it.

    We don't do much for Halloween anymore at my house — no kids and we're not in an area where we get a lot of trick-or-treaters — but I have very fond memories of years past, all thanks to my parents who did pretty much everything you did with your kids. They — and you — made it a yearly ritual they will remember forever.

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