Who to choose for your kickball team? Grape or strawberry jelly? These are important decisions for a kid, but the most life-affecting decision a kid can make in elementary school? What to dress up as for Halloween. Months of agonizing debate and firing of ideas and creativity take place in the minds of young people, all in preparation for one day of partying at school and one night of running around to stranger’s houses begging for candy.
My costumes in the 1980s were all assembled by hand, with help from my mom. She loved helping me come up with and create my Halloween costumes. That’s her in the picture at the top of this post, helping me see in the mirror after putting makeup on my face for my first costume.
My mom liked to help me come up with ideas, but I always had final approval. She tried EVERY year to get me to dress up as Carmen Miranda, because she wanted to make a fruit hat to put on my head. I refused every time. Putting fruit on my head made no sense to me at that age. I understand you now, parents. Kids. Sometimes they don’t get what’s funny.
Now, let’s take a walk down my Halloween Memory Lane.
Kindergarten. Raggedy Ann.
Are kids in 2014 going to have to run to their nearest search engine to find out who Raggedy Ann was in 1980? She was a rag doll from a story book, kids. Well, whatever. Believe it or not, I feel like kids in 2048 are going to have to Google who Anna and Elsa from Frozen were…or, you know, consult the search pod in their brains…whatever people are doing 34 years from now to access information about pop culture references that are lost on them.
First Grade. Clown.
One of my aunts made this costume for me. I’m sorry I don’t remember which one, there were two of you who liked to sew things for me at the time. To the sewer of the clown costume, thank you! It was a great costume! My mom made the hat out of construction paper, wrapping paper, a pom pom, and yarn. Take that Pintrest. #DIYingIt80sStyle
Second Grade. Chef.
This one was mostly mom’s idea. She found this apron she loved and my costume gave her an excuse to buy it. (It hung on the wall in our kitchen for years after this.) I was on board with the chef idea, because any chance to make fake eyebrows and a mustache out of construction paper, right? Plus, I got to collect my trick-or-treating candy in the giant bowl we used for popcorn and stir it around with a wooden spoon. Much cooler than a plastic tick-or-treat sack.
Now we’re moving into the phase where my costume was decided based on what cool plastic or felt hat I could find at the costume shop. My mom would take me in and I would peruse the hats until one caught my imagination and it was off to the races.
These next two costumes are from the lost years…as in I can find NO PHOTO EVIDENCE that they existed! Which is weird, because they were pretty cool costumes. Perhaps my mom was so worn out from putting them together she didn’t have any energy left to push the camera button?
Third Grade. Magician.
I was HUGELY into magic at the time. I was constantly doing card tricks, I put on shows for anyone who would tolerate them, I took a class, I saved up my own money to buy new tricks at the magic store, I read every book I could find on magic, I did a voluntary extra-credit report on Houdini for school, so this year’s costume was kind of a no-brainer. I had a plastic, felt-covered top hat, a wand that pulled apart to reveal brightly colored, ugly flowers, and a satin cape. What I do not have is a photograph of my ensemble.
Fourth Grade. Safari Explorer.
Again, I cannot believe my mom didn’t take a picture of this! It was one of my best costumes and I know she loved it too. I found a plastic safari pith helmet at the store, I already had a cool wrap around monkey puppet (a puppet with really long arms and legs that you could velcro around your neck and your waist), I dressed in khaki pants and button down shirt, and carried my dad’s binoculars.
Fifth Grade. Pirate.
And the award for best use of felt in one of my costumes goes to, Pirate, for the mustache and skull and crossbones I drew and cut out and assembled all on my own. I think this just might be my favorite costume. I played with the hat, eye patch, and sword for hours on end after Halloween. The white shirt and blue sweatpants were mine, the red and white sweater and earring were my mom’s, and the belt was my dad’s. I feel like the bright blue, cartoon-character-branded, digital watch I’m sporting on my left wrist, breaks character a bit, but hey, a pirate’s gotta know what time to start making people walk the plank.
Sixth Grade. Old Lady in high tops.
This costume started with the bamboo cane and fake glasses and ended with a bloody nose. I borrowed the dress and the sweater, the purse was an old one of my mom’s from the 70s, and although you can’t see it in this picture, I wore my red converse high top sneakers with black stockings rolled down to the top of the high tops. When my mom was putting baking soda in my hair to make it gray, a bunch got in my nose and dried it out enough it started bleeding. A bloody nose was just what we needed before heading off to show my costume to my grandparents. But, when we did eventually get to my grandparent’s house, they had brought my great-grandma over to see me. I had never heard her laugh so hard in my life! She got a kick out of her great-granddaughter dressed as an old lady with her hair in a bun. Plus, I was pretty good at impressions as a kid and I made her laugh with my witty repartee.
38 years old. Lady wearing a Dracula Snoopy T-shirt.
The days of costumes are long gone for me. This year I wore my Dracula Snoopy t-shirt to work for casual Friday. And as darkness fell, I did what a lot of single people without kids do on Halloween. I shut off all the lights in the house, so it appeared I wasn’t home, took all the fun-sized candy I’d bought and hid in the back of the house all evening watching television and napping.