I anticipate Halloween more than any other holiday because I can be a kid again. As a child, I loved playing dress-up and remember the lovely gowns in our costume box. When trying on these voluptuous dresses with the crinoline skirts, I felt utterly transformed like Cinderella going to the ball – even if it took 5 safety pins to get the top to stay up!
On Halloween night, my friends wore sheets to become ghosts or were superheroes complete with a tablecloth cape. My mother was a seamstress so my sister, brother, and I wore get-ups she sewed after dinner on weeknights. One of my favorites was a witch costume she made from a McCall’s pattern. My mother sent the cape, dress, and hat with red braids to my daughter Courtney who ran around the house in it for months before the holiday. Soon it was worn in shreds as she cast spells with the words, “Spit, spat, wallerstat.” (I still have no idea where those words came from!)
My sister’s favorite was a big black cape with a humongous hood. My mother made my brother a silver and black suit one year. He painted his face, glued on pointy ears and became The Metallic Alien. We proudly wore our costumes to beg for treats on frighteningly cold All Hallow’s Eve.
Decades later I still enjoy dressing up. Now instead of one box, we have a storage room in our basement full of unusual clothing collected through the years. Some hang on makeshift racks. Costumes I sewed for my own children along with many others fill containers to the brim.
The year the movie Titanic was released, Danny and I were invited to a costume party. We dressed as dead floaters. I bought Christmas icicles and tied them into our hair, then went to work on our makeup. I have always found it somewhat of a relief to be dead for Halloween since the worse I look the better! Our costumes were a hit and we made many wonderful new friends that night. Back at home, when I looked in the mirror I scared myself since a ghastly creature stared back at me. I had forgotten how awful I looked!
Last year I went as Lady Gaga (who is my ultimate alter-ego), making an outfit which included lots of clear cellophane. – Hey now, I wore a pink sequined dress underneath. Danny went as MC Hammer. Oh yes, there was a bit of Hammer-time that evening!
I look forward to the one night out of the year when I can be someone I am not. I know you are thinking I am a little old for trick-or-treating and you are right. Traditionally my husband Danny and I dress-up to greet the little goblins who dare ring our doorbell. In recent years we have been The Addams Family with Thing (the creeping hand) and Cousin It (their furry relative, complete with top hat and round sunglasses).
Sometimes trick-or-treaters are from the local high school. I love that they still stop by since it is so much better than alternative shenanigans. One year some rang the doorbell at noon while I carved pumpkins. They said they had too much homework to go out that evening, but didn’t want to miss Halloween at our house since it had been a tradition for them since they were young children. I gave them each a handful of candy and told them to study hard!
At sundown on Halloween, we light candles in carved pumpkins and then filter haunting music through outdoor speakers. Danny and I turn the TV to Turner Classic Movies and watch reruns of some of the greatest Gothic horror of our time as we sip a glass of wine and wait for the doorbell to ring. When our first guests arrive, Danny pushes a button and a hidden fog machine sends out an unsuspecting blast. After hearing gasps and giggles, he slowly opens our door and says, “Welcome!”
“Gomez darling, get the little creatures some treats.” I continue by complimenting them on their costumes.
This year on Halloween night, I will head to the basement and search for our Addams Family costumes, convert the stool into Cousin It, and will anticipate the ringing of the doorbell. I look forward to donning the long black wig, powdering my skin, lining my eyes, and then applying red lipstick transforming into Morticia Addams. I will slip into character as I slip on my dress. After all, it is the one night out of the year I can be someone else.
Who would you like to be this year?