Tag Archives | costumes

Halloween Has Come To Town…

I’m living in parallel worlds right now.

In one world, Hoboken is flooded, friends and family are without electricity and heat, tunnels have become swamps, and the subways are fit only for submarines.  Con Ed exploded only a few blocks from our old apartment and most of the world below 20th street has gone dark. My computer is permanently streaming the weather channel and I click over to facebook every few minutes to see if anyone has found enough computer charge to post an update, or maybe a picture.

I’m tempted here to say something about the need for the US to invest in its crumbling infrastructure, or to mention Nicholas Kristof’s facebook post, in which he says ” I’m always embarrassed when I have to tell Chinese or Europeans about our electrical blackouts. They look at me sympathetically as if I live in the developing world….” And I absolutely will not mention Romney’s high-handed comment about getting rid of FEMA or his insistence that individual states should handle emergency relief when disaster strikes.

Nope. Not going to say any of that.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the other world I live in, which has clear skies and blue that unfurls like silk against the shore.

And where it’s already Halloween.

Being that I’m the mother of sons who play pretty true to type most of the time, the costume discussion went sort of like this:

Me: How about one of the Marx Brothers?

Caleb: Nah, I think a skeleton.

Me: Groucho? With a cigar and a moustache?

Caleb: Nah, I think Death.

Me: A Hobbit?

Caleb: Nope. Skeleton. Maybe with a sword. Or a Nerf gun.

We arrived, ultimately, at Death Eater, specifically, Lucius Malfoy.  And that’s how I found myself trying to take this:

to this:

using this:

The other child? He wanted to be a character named Skulduggery Pleasant, from a book series that he read and loved this year. So that’s easy: black coat, black hat, some white face paint (Skulduggery is…a skeleton), black pants:

Front of cover book, Skulduggery Pleasant Mortal Coil

And then:

Liam: So I read online about how to make safe handheld fireballs.

Me: Safe and fireball don’t usually go together.

Liam: They are totally safe. You just get some cotton and some lighter fluid–

Me: No.

Liam: Then what’s the point of the costume? Skulduggery has fireballs. Without fireballs, I’m nothing.

Needless to say, he went off to a Halloween party with some school friends but without the Molotov cocktails. I know, I know, where’s the fun in that, but still, it’s such a drag to get the phone call about your kid lobbing flammable objects at the pumpkin carvers.

As for the Death Eater? He went off to trick or treat in our building with a friend from next door — without me or any other grownup. For the first time in what–twelve years?–I did not traipse around with a gaggle of costumed children on Halloween night.  I stayed home and answered the door to tricksytreaters, gazed out the window at the water, and clicked endlessly into facebook, where, in my other world, Halloween has pretty much been cancelled, or at very least, postponed.

I won’t make a joke about Thanksgiving turkeys this year being stuffed with Halloween candy; instead, I’ll talk about missing. My sister said to me once that basically she just doesn’t let herself think about how much she misses us, and I told her that it’s the same for me: I put all my “missing” in a separate little box and try to ignore it.

But at times like these – which I think you could pretty much call a crisis  –  that little box breaks open and I can think only about what’s happening not here.

The thing about this expat life? Sometimes it’s fine being far away.

And sometimes? It’s not.





Continue Reading · on October 31, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, family, Kids, NYC

Cookies versus Costumes…My Line in the Sand

My mom always made our Halloween costumes. Sometimes that led to bad suggestions (Mrs Olsen the coffee lady, anyone?) but mostly we ended up with versions of vampires, cats, bats, hobos (does anyone still do “hobo” anymore?), pirates, and so on. But as I remember it, we almost never got “store-bought” costumes–which explains, I think, why I feel so conflicted about the fact that this Halloween, the boys will be dressed in head-to-toe polyester (let’s stay away from live flames, okay, boys?); costumes that are pretty much devoid of originality and creativity.


The costume discussion started strong: Caleb thought maybe he’d be a dead Easter Bunny (skeleton suit, black bunny ears), then a skeleton pirate (skeleton suit, pirate hat); and Liam thought he’d create some wildly complex character out of some Japanese card deck–a cross between Mad-Eye Moody, a spy, and a ninja, but with a fedora.

Then mistakes were made. Each boy was taken to the costume store to find the components of these costumes…Caleb saw a ninja sword (five bucks) and that was that: all he cared about was finding some kind of costume that would let him carry the sword.  Liam saw the “Emperor of Doom” package and was entranced by a costume that had a medallion and a skeleton mask and a sword.

I tell myself “I’m a working mom, I just don’t really have time to make costumes…” (as if non-working moms somehow do have time whip up magical costumes with just a few waves of the glue gun) but my guilt at letting my kids wear such generic crap was not assuaged until I found myself at 10pm the other night baking both banana bread and chocolate chip cookies for school bake sales.

Crazy, right? Just go buy some cookie mix, or take some advice from the working-mom narrator of I Don’t Know How She Does It: in the opening scene of the book, she is gently smashing the crusts of store-bought pies in order to make them look like home-made, for a school bake sale.

So that’s it. I’ve discovered my line in the sand: store-bought costumes are okay. Store-bought bake sale items aren’t. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel twinges of guilt about the Emperor of Doom marching around in his shiny black poly-blend costume, but hey. Something’s gotta give–costumes, bake sales, getting my own work done (hahahaha fat chance)…At least they’re eating homemade cookies (whole wheat flour! no preservatives!) while they march around in outfits that, if they leave them on too long, will probably give them both a rash.

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Continue Reading · on October 30, 2010 in Children, Kids

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