One of the many, trivial things that comes to mind as I lay in bed at night, unable to sleep, is the list of Halloweens Past. I fear that soon I will lose track. I go over them, checking my chronology, making yet another mental note to myself to write them down, lest they be gone forever. As I will never be a scrapbooking mom, nor am I great about actually sending and/or printing out photos, this is the single repository for my memories. Here they are…
Elihu’s 1st Halloween, 2003, 6 months.
Elihu’s very fist costume was that of Dom DeLuise as chef. Inspired by the big cheeks he inherited from his father, I donned the infant in a Chef’s costume, complete with black and white checkered pants, double-breasted white smock, painted-on beard and moustache, and wooden spoon. As I pushed his stroller down Main Street in Evanston we passed a Dachshund in a hotdog costume. I will never forgive myself for not stopping to get a picture of the two of them together. Some things live only in memory…
Elihu’s 2nd Halloween, 2004, at a year and a half.
I dressed him as a spider, in one of those pre-made costumes. I felt I was able to redeem it from its potentially average standing by the addition of my own costume which was that of ‘Little Miss Muffet’. I had a dress made years back for a medieval-themed Christmas party which featured a full skirt and tight, corseted bodice – just perfect for this fairy tail character. Elihu and I traveled to New York in order to visit my folks and go to a Halloween party that my family traditionally attended. I panicked when I realized I’d left my wood-tone plastic bowl back at home and had my assistant fed ex it to me at my parents’. I had to be eating my curds and whey, right? In the end, perhaps it was worth it. Little Miss Muffet and the Spider Who Sat Down Beside Her went over pretty well.
Elihu’s 3rd Halloween, 2005, 2 years old
This was the year of the train. So many young boys become Thomas converts, so many parents begin to learn the nuances of the Thomas culture. Ringo Starr or Alec Baldwin? No matter your narrator of choice, in the end one must fully embrace the experience. If one is really lucky, the child will catapult the parents into a world of steam-powered train trips and weekend excursions that truly widen one’s view of the world. Elihu wore real coveralls with a red bandana tucked in his hip pocket and an engineer’s hat. The epitome of innocence and pure childhood.
Elihu’s 4th Halloween, 2006, 3 years old
That year he went as a pile of leaves, and I chased him with a rake, playfully admonishing him to ‘get back here’ so I could rake him up. A red sweat suit with leaves hot glue gunned all over (complete with leaf covered shoes and hat) it was perhaps one of the most inventive costumes I have ever seen. I cannot take credit for it; I bought it for less than $10 on ebay from a woman whose name and info I still keep in hopes that one day I will thank her for all the joy she gave to us that season. !
Elihu’s 5th Halloween, 2007, 4 years
Ahh, this was the year of the cicada. I found my inspiration in the recent return of the Midwest’s 17 year version of the insect. What a costume. It was true to life in every way, down to the segmented abdomen and clear, veined wings. It was a masterpiece, and I’m still rather bummed I chose to give it away shortly before I moved to New York. Elihu carried with him a larger-than-life alarm clock which had been set to ‘summer’. The bit was that he’d slept late by a season. Cute.
Elihu’s 6th Halloween, 2008, 5 years old
Our first year on our own in our new home, here in upstate New York. At five, Elihu aspired to be like the impish six year old Calvin of the comic Calvin & Hobbes. In the strip the young hero creates an imaginary character; a space-exploring version of himself in wraparound shades and tubular shoulder pads called ‘Spaceman Spiff’. I was proud of my physical rendition, accurate down to the frap-ray blaster.
2009 Elihu’s 7th Halloween, 6 years old
Bald Eagle. The bird thing now in full swing, he decided to start at the top. What better choice than the patriotic emblem of his country? This year marked my first avian work, and a deeper exploration into the medium of paper mache. I feel I did a pretty good job of nailing the contours of the head; eyes eerily sunken and beak frighteningly hooked. The body and wings were still primitive, it was a form that would take another couple of seasons to get down. Elihu won ‘most original’ costume at the local firehouse although one of the grandma judges thought he was a chicken, which he found most insulting.
2010, Elihu’s 8th Halloween, 7 years old
This year our bird thing really took off. He decided to be a Turkey Vulture as we’d had a resident flock of them living on our property the year we’d moved here. It was a very appropriate choice for the holiday; Turkey Vultures eat dead bodies. I went to town on this headpiece, and the results were quite impressive. This was the year I discovered armature wire – a very bendy and sturdy frame on which to lay the paper mache. It enabled me to make a very long beak that jutted out about a foot in the front. I accompanied him as the grim reaper; what I killed, he ate.
2011, Elihu’s 9th Halloween, 8 years old.
Inspired by his love of birds and the desire to be something spooky, he decided on an Anchiornis this year. What is an Anchiornis? It is an early, feathered dinosaur. Modeled on an illustration by a friend (who paints birds professionally) we created our own, slightly tweaked version as there is no one on the planet who can definitively say what the creatures really looked like. While not as true to life as my creations in years past, this costume was probably the best success. Not only did it garner a prize, but its wings were very sturdy and moved a lot of air, something of top priority for Elihu. I took a little extra time on the legs, sewing the embellishments rather than just gluing them, and the result was a costume that survived a 14 hour day of holiday appointments.
We have yet to go trick-or-treating, that’s tonite. We’ve found our little routine here, and we always enjoy it. Starting with the mansions on North Broadway, we wind our way into the interior of the tree-lined neighborhoods and on our way make a couple of social calls to old family friends. One fellow has a party each year with grown-up food and wine for the callers, a nice treat for me. We’ll explore the inner courtyards of the homes whose matching carriage houses are now gorgeous homes themselves, we’ll follow the route that most appeals to us, and we’ll allow ourselves to live fully in the moment, floating in time, dreamlike and untethered to any formal plan. How surreal it feels to meander like this through the darkened streets, to hear the hushed sounds of anonymous voices all around us, to see glowing pumpkin faces shining out at us from from porches and doorways…
Then we’ll get in our car and head into the blackness of the countryside. When we arrive home, the big dump will be made on the kitchen table. We’ll sort, compare, trade and bargain for favorites, eat some now, store the rest in the mouse-proof refrigerator. Then we’ll brush our teeth, climb into bed and recount our evening.
One scary story later, it’s lights off and goodnight to another wonderful memory.