My family has always been big on holidays, celebrating with big meals, treats, and decorating our houses. We would gather together and celebrate even the smaller holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day. But by far one of my favorite holidays (coming in as a very very close second to Christmas) was Halloween. I love the fun and fantasy of dressing up and being with family. I have fond memories of trick or treating with my family. But more than that, I have love and admiration for my mother surrounding this holiday.
When I think about Halloween, my most cherished memories are not about candy or haunted houses; they are about my mom’s homemade costumes. Each year months before Halloween, we would start planning our costumes and the pieces we would need to put everything together. I know for most people this sounds crazy, but it was a wonderful time for my mom and me. I loved going with my mom to the fabric store and looking at patterns. It can be so hard to choose, but it was so much fun.
I would get so excited (and still do) when we found the perfect fabric for our projects. My mom worked when I was a kid, so she did all of her sewing in the evenings. Sometimes she would let us watch and talk about sewing and how the projects were going. Other times she would work when we went to bed. Not only did she make our costumes, but she often made a matching dress for our cabbage patch dolls. (I seriously don’t know how she found the time). I was always so excited to go to school and show off my mom’s creations.
There was one year that I remember in particular. My sister and I wanted to be Rainbow Brite. I remember my mom telling us we couldn’t be Rainbow Brite; we had to pick one of the other characters. I don’t remember her giving me any reason or being really upset by it. She made my sister an awesome Patty O’Green Costume and I was a beautiful Lala Orange. I loved those costumes and we had a great year. I found out as an adult that she was so sad that year. The reason we couldn’t be Rainbow Brite was because the fabric to make her costume was too expensive (there were a ton of different colored fabrics and accents on the dress), so she told us to pick a character that was made from one color of fabric with just white accents. I had no clue. All I remember is the great Halloween she put together for my sister and me. I wish that this Halloween in particular didn’t bother her so much. I wish she could see it through my eyes. I never saw the lack of money. I only sawthe love she put into our dresses.
Now as a grown up, I still love dressing up. One of my greatest joys as a mother has been sharing this legacy of homemade costumes with my kids. Since my kids were born, my mom and I have taken on the challenge of making costumes for not only my kids, but us as well. What can I say — she is my mom and she still loves making her little girl a costume. I love doing family costumes. I am sure at some point they are going to figure out how uncool mom and dad are and want to be on their own at Halloween, so I figure I am going to milk it for as many years as possible. My boys’ first Halloween (yes they all had their first Halloween together) was in 2009. Mr. Train is a huge Star Wars fan so we knew what we were going to do before the twins were born. Mr. Train and I both had costumes already so it wasn’t a big project that year. But I have to say my kids were the cutest Ewoks and Yoda on the planet. (I know it’s what all mothers think but still…they were.)
People thought we were crazy for putting so much time into a costume for kids who wouldn’t remember, but I couldn’t help it. It was such a big part of my childhood and I wanted to share it with my kids, even though they were so young. Very quickly after our first Halloween, I knew what we would do for our second. James loved Captain Hook and Peter Pan so we decided to go with pirates. This year we got the whole family including my parents and Mr. Train’s Parents. Even at this point my kids didn’t understand costumes and the time it took to make these, but I did it anyway and I am happy I did. Recently my kids have started to go through their baby books. Some of their favorite pictures to talk about are their Halloween pictures. James loved that we made him a Captain Hook jacket. He laughs at all our pictures and tells me he looked good.
The next year was a little tricky because I was scheduled for my C-section on October 25. That meant on Halloween I would have a 6 day old baby and be 6 days post-surgery. I didn’t let it stop me though. I still wanted to have a great family Halloween. I saw a cute baby and mommy costume with the baby as a spider and the mommy as a web. I decided we could go with that. We dressed the boys up as little bugs, my husband was an exterminator and Lilly and I were a spider and a web. I didn’t make a form fitting dress. I just had a witch’s cape made out of spider web material. I had no idea how deflated (or not deflated) I would be 6 days postpartum or how sore I would be. This was yet another year where all of my friends thought I was crazy. I wasn’t able to trick or treat with them, but I sat outside and watched them go and enjoy their holiday in their homemade costumes.
After bugs my mom REALLY wanted to make them the three musketeers. I am pretty sure she has wanted to do that since they were born. It was going to take a little convincing though. After all, they didn’t even know who the three musketeers were. I worked on them the entire year. I even bought the Mickey Mouse Three Musketeers movie to show them how awesome the characters were and how fun it would be. I am lucky that my three year olds were easy to convince because I am pretty sure my mom would have been heartbroken if she didn’t get to make these. I think a big part of it was that they would get to have swords, so I used that as my selling point. This has to be one of my favorite years so far. Mr. Train, my cousin and I got to be the bad guys and the kids had a great time fighting us. My mom and I loved dressing Lilly up as a little lady in waiting. Of course my little delicate girl twirled in her dress smiling like a little angel. Then she picked up one of her brother’s swords and chased them all around our yard, all while yelling at the top of her lungs. That’s my girl; she still has that feisty personality.
This year the boys were a little harder to get everyone on board with one family idea . We tossed around characters from How to Train your Dragon, or X-men but Star Wars has won again. This time they got to pick which character they wanted to be. They of course picked characters with light sabers (because what boy wouldn’t?). They told me they wanted me to be a bad guy again, so I had to find a new costume for me. They picked a more obscure costume for me from one of their books, Asajj Ventress, so it was a little tricky for me to put together, but I think it worked out. And Lilly is probably the cutest R2D2 around (again, a mother’s opinion) and again my parents are joining us in our little costume adventures.
I hope when my kids look back they see the love that my mom and I out into these costumes. I don’t care about them appreciating the work, money or hours. I just want them to see how much they mean to me and the joy that we can have as a family. My mom gave that gift to me and I love continuing it with my kids.
Do you have any holiday traditions you are passing on to your kids this year?