The Flowered Ghost

Take a mother who doesn’t sew and add three children who want to be something really cool for Halloween and you have a recipe for disaster. Right? Not necessarily.

When my kids got old enough to notice that some of their friends had mothers who created fabulous costumes FROM SCRATCH and began complaining that I didn’t, I’d remind them of the year Leigh, our middle child, was forced to trick-or-treat as a ghost. She was five years old and had put off deciding what she wanted to be for Halloween until the last minute. Ten minutes before time to pile into the car and head to the suburbs (a necessity for children who live way out in the country), Leigh was still dressed in her school clothes.

I opened the door to the linen cabinet and yanked out a ratty flowered sheet. “You’ll have to go as a ghost or stay home,” I told her.

“A flowered ghost?” she wailed.

“Yep. I’m not going to cut eye holes in any of my good white sheets.”

So Leigh wore the flowered sheet. And was miserable. Sleet began to fall not long after we started our rounds. By the time we finally made it back to the car, the hem of the sheet—which was way too long and which she had dragged behind her for the whole horrible trek around Bilbrey Park–was caked with frozen mud and weighed more than she did. To add insult to injury, Leigh accidentally dumped the entire contents of her treat bucket into a puddle as she climbed into the car.

From then on, none of my children dared procrastinate when it came to deciding on a costume.

So to anyone reading this column just five days before Halloween descends upon us again, I offer these suggestions for easy last-minute ways to dress your children or grandchildren. They’re not likely to win a prize for best costume but, hey, your kids will probably get just as much candy as the kids whose mamas made their costumes FROM SCRATCH.

  • Buy white sweat pants and a white sweat shirt. Draw big black dots on the clothes with a magic marker. Draw small black dots on the child’s face with something less permanent than a magic marker. Voila! A Dalmatian.
  • Buy green sweat pants, a green sweat shirt, and a green toboggan-style cap. And, if you’re really ambitious, green face paint. Your kid will be the cutest dill pickle on the block. As a bonus, this outfit can be worn on St. Patrick’s Day to avoid getting pinched.
  • Buy camo clothes and a toy rifle. Your child can go as G.I. Joe one Halloween and—if he doesn’t grow too much—as a deer hunter the next.
  • Scrounge through your collection of billed caps and find one with a MLB logo. Add a pair of tight britches and knee high socks, athletic shoes and a baseball glove and your star center fielder is ready to go. Bonus points if his/her team is playing in the World Series.
  • One brimmed hat, one pair of boots, one pair of blue jeans and a fringed vest made from a brown paper sack makes for a mighty cute cowboy or cowgirl.

It turns out that Halloween doesn’t have to be all that complicated after all. But if your children need convincing, just tell them the story of the flowered ghost. More than twenty years later, Leigh still claims 1992 was the most horrible Halloween of her life.

(October 26, 2014)



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