Halloween Traditions

Today is Halloween, the favorite holiday of kids everywhere! They get to dress in costume and  act out of character for a few hours, being as goofy or scary or flamboyant as they wish. On top of that, they get to hang out with friends after dark and collect loads of candy as they roam the neighborhoods. Some houses go all out with their decorations and even have sound or light effects to enhance the mood. Others purposely leave their lights off, creating a haunted house feel where no one should dare to go.  We have a singing ghost who hangs on our front porch and a giant Grim Reaper who guards the door.

Every year my family has grown its own pumpkins. Some get very large- as in 200+ pounds! We carve them out and illuminate them for Halloween. Everyone in the neighborhood knows my husband is the pumpkin man. He is in charge of them from seed to carving time, always saving some seeds for next year. He carefully plants them, weeds and waters their bed, decides on several to keep-plucking off the extra buds, and transports them to our front yard. He requires a chain saw to carve them, but he lets the kids draw the design. Then he lights them with bright lamps backed with aluminum foil. Once it gets dark they look very impressive!


My specialty is Halloween costumes. Ever since the kids were old enough to trick or treat, I have been involved in their costumes.

When they were very young, they would tell me what they wanted to be and I would buy materials to sew into their homemade costume. Ariel had an amazing “wig” of red shaggy fabric and a shiny “tail”, Dorothy had sparkling ruby shoes and Captain Hook had a flashy belt and hook. One year we even dug out a homemade Native American costume that had been mine as a child!


While my designs were les than perfect, they were certainly recognizable and the kids got plenty of comments on how great they looked.  I got my Halloween kicks in by watching them parade around in their costumes and by taking their pictures.  Unfortunately, by the time they reached 3rd or 4th grade they felt it was too embarrassing  to wear a “mom” costume. They begged to pick something out at the store. Those were the years of Glinda, Batman, Spiderman and the Wicked Witch.

But by middle school something changed….They started designing their own costumes. At first they pieced together leftovers from previous years, or cut up old clothing to create their look. That was when we had cheerleaders, Red Sox fans, zombies, Goths and cowboys.


For the last few years my son has shown his dark sense of humor. He has been both Freddy Krueger and Dr. Evil. We looked up costumes online and decided we could design decent look alikes for a fraction of the price. Using fabric and basic sweat shirts or pants along with some accessories, he has looked great. The only difference is, many people don’t realize who he is portraying. Maybe he is too deep for them.


This year he wanted to be Wilfred- the man/dog. Again we checked online and saw we could buy a costume for $99 plus shipping. Instead I went to Wal-Mart and bought a sweat suit, a shaggy throw, a hat and gloves. He helped me measure, cut and sew pieces of the throw onto the outfit. It was a great mathematical challenge to cut the fabric in the most efficient way so we didn’t waste any. It took a few hours of work, but for $30 we had the satisfaction of a great costume that he was very excited about and had designed and made himself.

It is funny how traditions come full circle. You start early and plant them, they may meet some resistance along the way, but somehow they come back to you and carry on. While I never denied my children the right to buy a costume, they did get the message that it was much cooler to make their own. I am not sure what my daughter plans to dress as tonight, but I am sure she will come up with a great plan by herself.  And I can’t wait to see what our pumpkin display will look like- only a few hours until it’s dark! Happy Halloween!

p.s. Here is an update since some of you were asking about Wilfred. He had a great time being a dog for a few hours, and even got some recofnition. I have to admit, it was one of the best costumes I saw all night.

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