Basket Case

I thought that this year I would try to be the cool, creative mom for Halloween. The kind that sews an Elizabeth I costume from scratch or carves a human foot costume out of foam.

I spent twenty bucks at the Big Lots and several hours of precious time on the first homemade costume ever for my daughter. It was a basket of flowers. My husband cut out the middle of a wicker laundry basket and my 5-year-old and I spent all day last Sunday making and attaching flowers. I promised myself I would buy some carbon offsets to counter-balance my guilt about using so many Styrofoam cups in the floral construction.

I knew we were in trouble when the time came to attach the straps and try the arrangement on. The whole thing had a sort of old-timey barrel-hanging-from-suspenders vibe. Not a good vibe for a kindergartener who already has multiple issues about the manner in which clothing touches her body.

“I don’t want to wear it, Mommy!” she said. “I can’t walk in it to trick-or-treat! It bumps my knees! It’s too big!”

I imagined my child forcing her way through the crowds on 24th Street, where Halloween in our neighborhood is like Mardi Gras for kids. The flowers would surely pop off. She might stab or be stabbed with a stray piece of wicker that was sure to spring from Daddy’s quickie laundry basket surgery.

It wouldn’t work for her school assembly after the costume parade either. She couldn’t even sit in the damn thing.

“You’re right,” I said. “But I don’t want to make you anything else or buy you anything else.” I could already see the future therapy bills piling up if I forced her to wear my crafty mommy creation, so I backed off.

But inside I grieved a little bit at the loss of our family’s planned group costume: A flower basket for the big girl. Mommy and the baby dressed as single flowers. And a gardener get-up for Daddy, complete with overalls and a watering can. Cool theme, right? Too bad it didn’t take.

And we ended up looking cool anyway. Big girl cleverly pulled together a Princess Minnie Mouse costume from bits and pieces in the dress-up bin. Little sister wore a hand-me-down giraffe outfit I dug out of the attic. Daddy held fast to his overalls and cowboy hat, with the addition of a faux-boo-boo on his cheek to match the baby’s fresh facial injury that recently sent us to the ER.

And I wore an awesome purple wig along with my own finds from the costume box raid. I was either a Fairy Godmother or a Bugaloo from Sid and Marty Croft’s psychedelic 70s kid show – depending on when you asked me.

We tricked and treated until our feet were sore and the baby starting going apeshit in front of the Irish bar at 24th and Church. Even in our hodge-podge, thrown-together costumes, we had a blast.

“Mommy, I love it when it gets dark and everyone is out trick-or-treating! I love Halloween!” my five-year-old said to me as we lugged our loot up Sanchez Street back home.

That’s the, ahem, spirit! Even if the flower basked stayed at home, drooping on our dining room table, my daughter loved the evening and so did I.

Next year I’ll spend the Sunday before Halloween carving pumpkins and making sure the costume box is full of good junk. And I’ll blow off trying to be the cool creative mom.

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