Making Memories That'll Last

When I was growing up every single kid I knew made their Halloween costumes. I don't remember ever seeing a store-bought one. What would have been the fun of that? I can't remember that anyone was ever anything much besides a ghost or hobo or princess as our materials were limited to the linen closet and our parents' closet. Sometimes we took paper grocery sacks and came up with stuff, but the big deal wasn't really the costume - it was the C.A.N.D.Y. We grabbed our empty pillow cases and spread out over the neighborhood in what must have looked to the neighbors like swarms of termites or locusts. Candy apples, popcorn balls, and candy bars galore, and nobody had to worry if it had a wrapper on it or not. When the neighbors ran out of candy and started turning out their porch lights, we'd head home, where we'd dump our loot all over the living room and start the trading. One butterfinger for two snickers, etc. And we'd crawl into our beds with unbrushed teeth and stomachs sick with sugar.

Then I grew up, and it was my turn to make memories for someone else. Here, a smattering of costumes and memories over the past 38 years:

Scan 16
Sarah and me (on the left) with my dear friend Tracie - we were inseparable from 10th grade on, we became sister-in-laws for 6 years, then my friend again when we were no longer related. We had babies back to back in 1976, and we're still friends 40+ years and running.
Scan 15
I found a book at the library on making costumes. This was made from grocery bags and newspapers. It's still one of my all-time favorites. That's her (great) Grandpa Harold in the background. Every year, every holiday, he'd bring over specially flavored ice cream. Sweet, sweet man.
Leslie on the left, Sarah in the middle, and Danny on the right. He was 2 1/2 and refused to wear a costume or mask. Some battles are just not worth it. This was taken at our next door neighbor's house, and I remember thinking how cool their shiny wallpaper was back then. Bet you it was taken down a long time ago!
Scan 2
Some years we had a Halloween party because we lived at the corner of the huge (3 hour) Halloween parade route, so everyone dressed and we had such good times together! This is our friend, Tom, dancing with Dalmation Leslie. And I LOVE seeing our TV in the background. Remember?!
Scan 5
We generally tried to steer clear of too much dark ghoulish stuff, but for some reason I agreed to let Leslie be a witch. And she was an adorable one! I'm honestly not sure if we blacked Danny's tooth or it was missing so we went with the look?! Man alive, did he wear his hair short or what?
Scan 10
This must have been the year of Karate kid? Here's our son, Danny, with the coveted first place blue ribbon prize. He was pretty pleased to win as I remember, and it was a simple, fun costume to make.
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It seems to me I let the kids come up with an idea, then we figured out how to make it happen, which sometimes involved Dad and sometimes not. This is Leslie with a neighbor girl, going as Betty and Wilma from the Flinstones. Dracula was not with them.
Scan 4
I loved this mouse costume, with a chunk of cheese accessory! Many of our Halloweens were spent in southern Illinois and you never knew what the weather would do, so dressing warm was always a good idea. Danny was apparently into Ninja warriors back then.
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1994 - Sarah was 18, a senior I believe, and Danny was 11. Oh my, look at his skinny arms and legs. He ended up being 6'3" and over 200 lbs, she actually still looks a lot like she did here. No taller and not much bigger.
Scan 3
This is Sarah in 1988, when she was 12, closer to Danny's age in the last photo. The bubble gum says it all.
Scan 1
This is her costume that year, age 12 going on 20. Obviously her friend, standing next to her, was at a different place in the puberty crawl? Sarah wasn't allowed to wear make up yet so I'm thinking she loved this costume for that reason alone.
Scan 11
Danny's hiding inside this costume. We made the head out of paper mache, and somehow came up with the costume. We'd recently read Charlotte's Web while on a road trip, so he was into Wilbur. This is the year Don's father died two weeks before Halloween, we set aside the pig head, packed funeral clothes and drove the minivan to Colorado. It was nice to come back home, and celebrate family and holidays and such after saying goodbye to a parent.
Scan 13
On the left, Leslie as the groom, albeit a Charlie Chaplin version. On the right, Danny, as the bride, wearing my actual wedding gown. Another blue ribbon for this one, maybe because an 11 year old boy had the guts to wear a dress with red lipstick and heels?

We started celebrating Halloween in 1977 and the last dressed up kid at our house was in 2001. I'm pretty sure that's the year Dan (no longer Danny) went with all his football and basketball buddies, dressed up as ghoulish characters of their own creation. 24 years of making memories with our kids. Certainly during those years sometimes it was a stretch to find time, energy, money, enthusiasm for all of it, but now that we're at the stage of looking back, I don't regret a single bit of it. Tomorrow night Miss Lily is wearing her pink polka dotted swimsuit and I'm wearing my pink Hello Kitty costume to answer the door, then Dan, Janae, 5 year old JaeBeth and 4 year old Daniel (both dressing as doctors I hear), will come over to watch The Great Pumpkin and eat frito pie, a newish family tradition on Halloween night, and see what Papa and Grammy have for their buckets.

Take the time to make the memory; they aren't little for very long. You'll be looking back on it all before you know it, wishing you could have your kitchen table covered in newspaper and pumpkin guts for just one more night, surrounded by a bunch of skinny legged, excited kids!


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