The Third Costume

It’s the fourth largest expense in our October budget. Five years ago it was the sixth. Next year I fear it will climb to second. Only the mortgage, food and school rank higher. Below it are vehicle, and gas and electric. It is the Halloween costume expense – and we are only on the second of three.

In our household, Halloween ranks a close second behind Christmas. And I married into both. If it were up to me, the Christmas tree would last a day and the house lights would go out after the fourth trick-or-treater. But it isn’t up to me and as a result we have three Christmas trees planted throughout the house thirty days prior to Christmas and Halloween lasts a full week before and after the 31st.

Never mind that last year only 30 children graced our doorstep with bags in hand – Brooke decorates the house complete with miniature ceramic Halloween villages (she has some for Christmas too), trimmings for every door and enough fake spider web to keep me cursing for months as I scrape it from the brick. Then it is my responsibility to carve the pumpkins, all 20 of them, according to the Michelangelo inspired diagrams from the latest version of Ladies Home Journal or Good Housekeeping. Both she and Gracie pick out the pattern with the witch and the cat riding on a broom across a clouded sky with a crescent moon. I carve a crudely constructed jack-o-lantern smile with triangle eyes. Gracie then picks out a pattern fashioned after the face of Dracula complete with wrinkles and hair detail. I take the same pumpkin and punch out the right and left teeth, leaving only the center “fangs”. Brooke frowns. And once again I failed the Halloween test.

Each July the planning begins. Right after Independence Day, Brooke and Gracie conspire about the next holiday with decorations. Somehow Labor Day didn’t fit the Hallmark mold. At first it starts with costumes. “What do you want to be for Halloween,” Brooke asks Gracie as we sit sweating on the porch grilling hamburgers. Gracie stops and thinks. Already I know this is an act. If she’s anything like her Mom, she’s already been planning her next costume since November 1. “I want to be an Eskimo,” she proudly proclaims. And suddenly it begins. Gracie draws her vision and Brooke searches the internet for fake fur cuffs and a stuffed baby seal. Still I know better.

By August the order is placed and the costume is on its way. I know this because it arrives on our doorstep the very same day Gracie changes her mind. “I want to be a witch,” she tells us, even before the Eskimo costume can be opened. And before I can argue, the planning is once again set in motion. Brooke looks for a hood and a wand. Gracie tells her friends. And I sit staring at an Eskimo costume wondering if it could double as a winter coat for Gracie this December.

I used to argue. I lost. Halloween has always been a sacred holiday to both Brooke and Gracie – and I’m outnumbered. So instead, I decided to start a business. Need a perfectly designed costume on short notice? We have a Tinker Bell costume with wings, a cowboy costume complete with a horse, a ninja costume with two swords and coming soon, a witch’s costume with a hood and a wand. You see, I know this is not the last costume. By mid-October, Gracie will once again change her mind and the process will begin again – this time with an urgency for the upcoming holiday.

So we plan for Halloween and set aside the college fund for November. It’s all about the fantasy and all pretend. It’s all about a little trickery and a lot of sugar. It’s all about the kids, both big and little. And either way, I still know I’m outnumbered.

One Response to “The Third Costume”

  1. Kelsey says:

    Reading your post it sounds a lot like our household too! I just came upon your story. My 4 year old sister Mary Katherine passed away from a brain tumor two years ago, Halloween was her favorite holiday. Watching the video of your daughter, I saw my sister. I saw it in her face, as Mary had those same chubby cheeks due to treatment. And her eyes during her artwork scene was exactly how my sisters eyes were. She could not talk toward the end of her life either. You have no idea how much this me to me to see this story. I want to thank you for sharing your family with us.

    Thank you for all that you do!
    Kelsey Conroy
    [email protected]