When I was little, my grandma had a Halloween party for my siblings and me, plus my cousins. We played games and had snacks, and all that stuff that goes with kiddie parties. We each had a number, which we’d drawn from a bowl, that would direct us through the games, giving an order to follow for all the activities, and which coordinated with prizes. Near the end of the party, we had the final activity where we found our numbers on cards that were tied to strings what disappeared inside a paper grocery sack. I pulled mine out, excited and eager to receive my prize. And I pulled out a tin helicopter.
And the winner is…TOY STORY 2!
There are a lot of reasons why this is my favorite. Just looking at it, you can probably see why I’d choose it. It's very fun. And who doesn't love Toy Story? But not only the end result made me absolutely love it, but the process of it coming about added to the attachment for me. Here’s how it happened.
And…the first runner up is…PETER PAN!
The year after Oz, I was excited to continue the effort and develop a tradition. The kids absolutely loved watching the old NBC TV taped live broadcast of the play Peter Pan with Mary Martin. It was the version I’d grown up with. So the theme was a story and show they loved and would enjoy imitating.
It was always a little hard to decide who would be what for Halloween. I wanted each child to be happy with their character and to not feel slighted in any way. We weren’t a family that put emphasis on one type of person being more important and inherently better than another.
The genesis for the costume theme which is my Number Four pick came with a skein of yarn. Someone had given me an entire skein of thick yellow yarn that begged to be used for some kind of incredible craft. It gave me the impression it wanted to be a lion’s mane. At the same time, one of our zip-up sleepers wore out. You know, the kind with footies that zip up to the neck that toddlers wear to keep warm when they kick every blanket off the bed. The footies and knees had piggy toes and knee caps peeking out, but the zipper still had plenty of zips left in it. And then the tipping point—I found some scrap material that just happened to match the yellow color of the yarn exactly, and it was fuzzy like fur and a large enough piece that I could sew it into a lion suit, using the old zipper from the worn-out sleeper. The stars were aligning!
I’m just going to tell you right out of the gate what gets my Number Five vote. Snow White and the Seven Dwarf (yes, seven) from 1998. That’s because I’ve already written about it in an August blog posting called, “Today in History: Snow White Anniversary.” Since I told all about how the costumes came together in that one, and how Jason’s boss joined us in our theme by dressing up better than we did, and scarier than all get out, this is my chance to tell about what Jason dressed up as that year, and a couple of other years.
By the time the kids were three, I was gearing up again to do elaborate things for Halloween. After all, we’d successfully completed the two previous Halloweens to glorious acclaim.
Growing up, my kids loved history. And music was a big part of our lives too, both listening and eventually also playing music. Sometimes, they liked to mix history with music. For example, if Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture boomed from our stereo, the kids scrambled to grab their “guys” and cannons and they acted out the War of 1812. When they dressed up as medieval characters, they usually created back story that involved real kings and their nemeses, and they acted out the stories with added soundtrack by playing pieces like O Fortuna from Carmina Burana. So of course, it was just natural that the year we played around with the idea of doing Medieval for Halloween, they quickly developed ideas around the characters they wanted to be.
The kids’ very first Halloween was a simple affair. I didn’t know what was ahead or what it would inspire. They had four matching union suits with stripes that were a little like old fashioned prison suits. I thought we could just put them on and say they were convicts and let it go at that.
But then my brain started up and creative additions to their look starting rushing in.
Through middle school, I began to let go of my [tight] hold on the kids for their Halloween costumes. I guess I was ready for the break, and they were ready to take on the daunting task of planning and executing such a tremendous feat.
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