October 11, 2005

The scariest thing about Halloween

Filed under: Art and About Holidays — admin @ 4:00 pm

I dread October. The horror of Halloween haunts me all year. I should revel in a holiday that spurs people to heights of creativity in masking their true selves beneath an imagined persona. Instead, Halloween forces me to confront the ugly truth I suppress from the world: I don’t sew.

Not that I can’t sew. I own a sewing machine, and a needle and thread. I have the skill set to use them. I would rather wear holey clothes than get either of them out.
Not that every Halloween costume requires sewing. But the good ones usually do. The original, never-before-seen, did-you-make-that kind do. I value original thinking and superior execution most highly. I can do the thinking part, but my execution is lacking.

I was born of a woman who is an excellent seamstress. My childhood costumes were incredible. I may have been just a fairy, or an Indian or an angel, but my costumes were homemade, one-of-a-kind expressions of that fairy, Indian or angel as conceived by my mom and me.

Sometimes, our efforts to be unique led to frustration and foolishness. When I wanted to be a bunch of grapes, Mom made a green jumpsuit and she and I papier-mâchéd almost two dozen orbs. I painted them purple, and then we safety pinned them onto the jump suit. Since they were made of paper, and heavy from paste, many of the representational grapes didn’t last the length of the school parade as they fell off in a trail behind me. We had to do repairs before trick-or-treating that nights. That same Halloween, Mom saw another person dressed as grapes by pinning purple balloons to herself. Duh!

The pressure I put on myself to be unique took its toll, and I was greatly relieved when I reached high school and was too old for parades and trick-or-treating. I ignored Halloween for the next 15 years.

Then I made a tactical error. I had children. And much to my chagrin, they want to celebrate Halloween. My mom, now a Grammie, has done a complete 180. For the last two years, she has taken the kids to Target and (Gasp!) bought ready-made costumes. The kids looked adorable but I was still desperate to encourage them to add some original features to the cookie-cutter commonness. No go. They wanted to look like everyone else. With a sad heart, I went to my son’s first Halloween parade last year and watched as one unoriginal kid after another filed by.

I became noticeably irritable with the creative zombies who came to the door trick-or-treating having done nothing more to earn their booty than forking Mom or Dad’s cash over to some mega-mart for an instant costume, no brain cells required. I actually refused some older kids candy because “they should know better” than to simply put on a rubber mask with their street clothes and call it a costume. My 4-year-old told me he would relieve me of door duty at that point. I went and drank a bottle of wine.

This year, both kids said they want to be Jedi. Not a specific Jedi like Anakin Skywalker or Obi-wan Kenobi, but just “normal Jedi.” I asked my son, the spokesman for the pair, what he thought of when he imagined a Jedi costume. He said, “boots, pants, a shirt and a Jedi robe. Especially a Jedi robe.”

Except for the robe, that costume sounded pretty assemble-able. It looked like I could scrape by one more year without sewing, but still help my kids be their own unique Jedi. I know licensed Jedi costumes exist, but they are a bit pricey. I decided we’d see how we could do on a budget putting our own Jedi attire together.

The three of us spent two hours wandering around Target picking up the necessary costume elements. I admit, finding clothes that represented the Jedi ‘s basic wardrobe was a creative exercise in itself. The piéce de résistance was finding belts for the tunic-style shirts that reflected the space-aged primitiveness of the Star Wars universe.

Feeling victorious but exhausted, we started to head toward the checkout when my son asked, “What about the robes?” I told him I wasn’t sure if we could find robes, to which he matter-of-factly replied, “You can make them.” I let him live in his dream world overnight before I fell off my pedestal the next day when I told him I wouldn’t be able to make a Jedi robe. We agreed to purchase the pre-fab ones.

Once again, the Seamstress Ghost of Halloween Past spooked me, but I had one last chance to save face. The spandex pants I bought my young Jedi were too long and needed to be hemmed. I could still vindicate myself with needle and thread. I meticulously measured and pinned the pants legs. I did two fittings on each patient child before starting to sew. I made five Frankenstein stitches and gave up. Non-stitch hem tape is the friend of the Jedi.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML ( You can use these tags): <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> .