Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween Happiness

Ahava, Samuel and Ziva
Halloween 2011
It has been one week since Halloween and now that the hubbub surrounding the 2012 Presidential Election is dying down, I can finally finish up the blog post I wrote last week. Apologies for the delay, but here's my long, rambling post about why I love Halloween:

Halloween 2012 - Albuquerque, NM
That's it. I have made a major life decision and I'm ready to make it public:

Halloween is my favorite holiday!

On this, the morning after, I have visions of costumed kids dancing in my head. Despite the low-level, post-sugar-high headache, and the frenzied dash to the bus this morning (on what should certainly be a national holiday) I am happy.
Halloween 2011 - McCall's Pumpkin Patch - Moriarty, NM

Halloween 2012 - Moriarty, NM
I thought about this Halloween high late last night after I tucked three tuckered out Trick-or-Treaters into their snuggly beds. I suppose there are plenty of reasons people don't like Halloween. One need only look on Facebook to hear about those; kids not saying "Thank you" or even "Trick or Treat", teenagers showing up with a grocery store plastic bag and no costume, asking for free candy, and the general over-the-top gore factor of some houses (yes, my kids and I steered clear of the house with 3 "zombies" walking around out front with axes and knives in hand). But in my mind those are the exceptions and not what Halloween is about to me.

What Halloween IS about is creativity and community. How could anyone not like that?

Halloween 2006  - Tijeras, NM

Halloween 2012 - Albuquerque, NM

Now, when I say "creativity," I'll admit that in years past, when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with new babies and an over-worked, traveling husband, I was grateful to have second-hand costumes to throw on my kids. Back then it was a miracle that we even knew it was Halloween. And, it really didn't matter anyway. When they are that little, say between newborn and four, you could put them in a paper sack and they would get oohs and aahs from everyone you meet. Plus, those store-bought pumpkin/lady bug/giraffe/bumble bee/chicken/tiger baby costumes are so deliciously adorable, safer for babies and generally awesome that no new mom should feel bad about not creating some personalized, homemade masterpiece. Especially those of us who aren't, shall we say, "Domestically Gifted," anyway.

Ahava - Halloween 2008
Ziva - Halloween 2011

Ahava - Halloween 2011
But now that my kids are getting a little older I am starting to understand why my own Mom bent over backward to create fabulous costumes for us (Thanks Mom!). Because it's as much fun for the adult making them as it for the kid wearing them! That is especially true for me right now since, at 5 and 7 years old, Ziva and Ahava are in that sweet stage where you can make crazy costumes and actually convince them to wear them.

Her Lady Ahava
Ziva The Island

That is why I found myself on Halloween eve sewing shells, sea stars and Beanie Babies onto my daughter's tropical island costume. And, unlike with so many other holiday-related preparations, particularly of the December variety, I found myself totally enjoying it. I kept chuckling to myself as I envisioned little Ziva heading to her Kindergarten class, with her palm tree planted firmly on her head. And I smiled to think of my Renaissance princess, Ahava, proudly gliding down the school hallways for the annual costume parade, looking regal. And, also unlike so many other built-up, commercialized holidays (which shall remain nameless), when Halloween rolled around there was no big let down because the reality didn't meet the expectations. In fact, when you finally pull all the pieces together and the kids go around town showing off their costumes, it always seems to be even better than I had imagined. The love tossed their way with compliments like "Great costume!" and "Don't you look adorable!" and "Wow that's a creative costume!" leaves us all with a happy glow that comes from feeling seen and special. Ironic, perhaps since they are wearing disguises, but sometimes you have to shed your daily expectation-laden persona and let your creative side shine through for others to really see you.
Our Nanny, Miss Lirio
and Samuel
Halloween 2012

Toreador Rosa Linda and Samuel the Chicken
Halloween 2012
Which brings me to another reason why I really love Halloween; because it isn't just for the kids. I was just as excited as I stitched the ribbon along the seam of my black workout pants as part of my personal transformation to a Spanish bull fighter, or "Toreador." And when I arrived for the pre-Trick-or-Treating get-together and got lots of compliments on my awesome costume, I was pretty proud of what I managed to create out of things I had lying around the house.

Hula Girl Nathan and Ziva the Island
Halloween 2012
Of course, sometimes the best costumes don't even take much forethought or effort. Just take the hula girl outfit my husband, Nathan, wore on Halloween night. He was the "Belle of the Ball" using only things found in our daughters' dress-up clothes; a blonde wig, a hula skirt, some leis and a Hawaiian flower barrette.

Halloween 2011 - Albuquerque, NM
Halloween 2010 - Alamogordo, NM
And as I write this I realize that is the real reason I love Halloween. Because while Nathan will work every Christmas so that someone else can enjoy that special time with their families, and while I can count on one hand the number of Memorial or Labor Day weekends he has actually been off, I can't remember a Halloween when we weren't together. Together, being playful wherever we happened to be.

Our costumed crew on Hakuna Matata - Halloween 2009

Halloween on Hakuna Matata - 2009
And where we happened to be one Halloween, was living on our sailing catamaran, Hakuna Matata, in the middle of nowhere. More accurately, we were anchored off of an uninhabited island in the Bahamas called "Powell Cay." If ever there were a year to skip Halloween, this would've been it.

But, because I anticipated being away for my favorite holiday, I set sail two months earlier as the "always prepared Mommy" my kids like to brag about (which, of course is not ALWAYS true, but who am I to ruin their Super-Mommy image of me?!?). I brought pumpkins for carving, orange and black construction paper for decorating, apples and caramel for baking, costumes for wearing and bags of candy for trick or treating. (I also brought a turkey for Thanksgiving… which actually turned out to be a really big chicken... but that's a subject for a future blog post!)

Carving pumpkins island-style - 2009
So, you ask, how can there be Trick-or-Treating on a boat on a deserted island? Well, that was were the creativity came in. My husband, our liveaboard nanny Melissa Paschke and I took up positions on three of the four corners of the boat and had our little princess and fairy make the Trick-or-Treating rounds around the deck. Let me tell you, they were thrilled and we all delighted in the most unique Halloween we've ever had.
Our Magical Halloween aboard Hakuna Matata - 2009
Halloween 2009 - Spooky Spock
The funniest moment came when they got to Nathan's position on the bow and thought that a strange man had come aboard as his Spock costume looked a little too realistic. To this day, three years later, the girls still say that was their favorite Halloween ever!

Halloween 2012 - Albuquerque, NM
So I guess I'll wrap this up by saying that for me Halloween is about togetherness, creativity and seeing things through the eyes of a child.

And when you really think about it, isn't that exactly what your own favorite holidays are all about too?