When it comes to Halloween, I've always considered myself a woman of principle. And my principles have had to do with Halloween costumes.
Principle #1 - Never, ever buy a costume. Always have homemade or home "gathered" costumes. And, for goodness sake, if you had to stoop so low as to buy one, never, ever buy one of those hideously cheaply-made excuses for costumes at Wal-Mart and the like.
I used to want to weep at the poor little children crowded by my door on Halloween in unbelievably chintzy polyester and acrylic costumes. Where were the mothers?
Principle #2 - No scary costumes. No problem for the girls, who always had a full range of safe options: cowgirls, ballerinas, cheerleaders, princesses. More problematic for the boys, but we could always stick with wholesome action figures, Indians, animals, careers, etc.
And I did feel proud to have steered clear of all manner of fear and evil. (Did I say "proud"?)
Just to show you what a woman of principles I was, I would like for you to observed Exhibit A above. A picture from a Halloween 10 years ago.
Oldest Daughter dressed as an angel, Butterick pattern #4419, thank you very much. Oldest and Middle Sons dressed like the "worker men" they longed to be. All home made, home gathered, non-scary. (And could I say just adorably cute. Ooooh, I could just eat up those little faces!)
Yes, a woman of principle. Do I hear someone saying "a woman of pride"? Oh, no, my dear, not pride . . . principle, principle.
Please, now, fast forward 10 years. And I would like for you to feast your eyes upon Youngest Daughter and Youngest Son, ready to go out trick-or-treating several weeks ago.
Yes, how the mighty have fallen.
The morning of Halloween, I decided I really must do something about the costume dilemma. So . . . we headed off to Wal-Mart . . . to the half-price costume wall. And we picked up the most chintzy, cheap, poorly made costumes you ever saw. Not only that, Youngest Daughter's was even a licensed costume. I was hyperventilating.
Yes, that's Youngest Son in the outfit looking decidedly in the "scary" category. Some executioner or ring wraith or other dark lord of mystery. ::sigh::
And you know what I found out. That maybe my high and lofty principles aren't really principles after all . . . really just preferences.
This is what I found out about my preferences this year:
* I prefer this year not to spend the time making Halloween costumes that I could be cooking dinner . . . or keeping us in clean clothes . . . or (for goodness sake) sleeping!
* I prefer this year not to make a major life moment over the fact that my 10 year-old does not want to be Peter Pan or Frodo or any other character from a work of literature.
* I prefer this year to keep the main things the main things and let non-essentials be exactly that . . . non-essentials.
So, this year we made Jack-o-lanterns, and the Man of the House took the little cheesy Thumbelina and the slightly macabre robed and hooded figure out onto the streets. After a soggy half hour in the rain, they came back, divided their spoils among the other siblings, and Halloween was over. I was not stressed and uptight; they were laid back and nonchalant. The household was at peace.
Maybe next year I'll go back to my strong preferences. Maybe Youngest Daughter will be a full scale black and red lady bug and Youngest Son will be the best dadgum Tom Sawyer you ever did see. But for this year, it was time to find out what is essential . . . and what really just isn't.