Thursday, October 26, 2017

Underachieving Halloween

There are parents, some of whom I know personally, who take Halloween very seriously. Their costumes are creative, and handcrafted and totally original. They have sorted treats according to diet requirements, catering to peanut allergies, red dye issues, and gluten sensitivity. They have healthy, spooky and aesthetically impressive snacks ready for the school festivities, which required foot painting, slicing and cornstarch gluing. Their pumpkins are works of art. Their family has created an amazing trunk or treat experience with coordinating costumes, a full set worthy of a professional theater production, and an act to match.

The worst of these moms are the ones who aren't obnoxious about it. We can all laugh at the humble bragging, faux modest, super show-offy moms. It's the mom who just honestly loves Halloween enough to make spooky meals all through October, or the mom who will figure out a way to turn herself into Te Fiti to match her daughter's Moana because she loves to dress up (and her hubby has no issue baring his chest as Maui). It's the mom whose house you visit, and without her saying a word, you realize that every single kid can take a treat without having to worry. She didn't give you a pitying look and a sanctimonious answer. She just did it, because it didn't bother her.

I have friends, good friends, who fit into all these categories. A mom showed me her daughter's Renaissance book character costume, asking for my opinion on the final touches. I was blown away, and she quickly said that she'd sourced most of the pieces from the thrift store, so the only sewing she was doing was the alterations. And the embellishments. And the little touches.

And I looked at my store bought Pinkie Pie, which Reagan begged for, and felt ashamed. This thing was cheaply made, thin, and too big in some places, too small in others, with a plastic mask. She was embodying the total commericial aspect of Halloween - store bought, ill fitting, a mainstream character. Madison, even though she was a creative, invented character (a fan-fiction style addition to Descendants as Halley, daughter of Captain Hook), her costume was a store bought pirate costume. They don't coordinate anymore. And unless I am personally attending a costume party, I don't dress up.

We don't have trick or treat visitors in our neighborhood, but when we did, my treats came from the big mixed bags at Target. I'm more of a "wow, I drew a jack o'lantern face on a cup of oranges or wrapped a juice box in a bandage like a mummy and I feel amazingly Pinteresty" mom when it comes to the parties. I didn't make an individual treat bag for each girl at dance class. Our candy goes into the generic orange pumpkins. Last year, when I was asked to fill in a space at a last minute trunk or treat, our car barely qualified as decorated. Frankly, I was happy I got the trunk cleaned OUT.

But here's the thing. My girls LOVE Halloween and they think I am totally amazing at it. They are wearing their costumes as often as I'll allow them and screeching with glee over how they look. They think the snack packs of mandarin oranges and juice boxes are amazing. They couldn't get over how much they loved the very concept of participating in a trunk or treat. It's not that they don't care if other moms put in more effort. I truly don't think they even notice. A costume is a costume. A treat is a treat.

So when I go all out for Christmas, wrapping up gifts for the American Girls to open, coordinating wrapping paper, getting different coordinating holiday outfits for every event and generally sinking into the whole month of December, don't think I'm trying to show you up. I love all those little touches and I do them for me as much as I do them for the girls. Kids don't feel like Christmas is any less exciting if their American Girl doll doesn't have her own presents to open.

And when you effortlessly show me up on Halloween, I'll know that my kids are just thrilled that it's on the calendar, no matter how much I put into it.
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