The Cornered Cat
All Hallow’s Eve

Completely off topic, but as much as I’m enjoying being a mom to  young adults, this time of year I really do miss having small children in the house. This video, for example, just about killed me:

When my children were little, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. Our family tradition requires absolutely no store-bought, off-the-shelves costumes — the outfits had to be handmade, using things we could find around the house or scrounge from free or near-free sources. Also, I’m not a seamstress, and even if I had been, I wasn’t willing buy fabric for something that would last exactly one night. So coming up with costumes for all five kids always took a little … creative thinking.

Not as tough as it sounds, really. At least, not once we got the hang of it.

One year, our two youngest children wanted to be firefighters. Easy peasy — they already had bright-red rain slickers and rubber boots, and our garden hose had recently died. I chopped off two feet of hose per kid, then ran down to the dollar store and picked up two firefighter hats. Mission accomplished. Total cost per kid: $1.

The year after that, one of the kids got into the Christmas decorations and pulled out a garland. And a string of battery-powered mini LED lights. You could almost see the wheels spinning: Hmmmm… what can I do with these? A short time later, he came into the house and asked if he could take the old round laundry basket that I was going to throw out. He flipped it upside down, ran the garland around it, decorated it with LED lights and tinsel … and thus was born the walking Christmas tree. Good plan. Total cost: one fresh 9 volt battery.

Another year, nobody had any really strong ideas of their own, so I told ’em I was taking charge. Then I scrounged up five square-ish cardboard boxes, painted them white and slapped some black circles on each side of each box. Cut holes for arms and head, and … hey presto! All five of them had a hoot telling anyone who asked, “Oh, we’re a Yahtzee game. Our parents rolled a full house.” Total cost for all five kids: one can of spray paint and a roll of contact paper for the circles.

One year we had a robot (cardboard box, silver spray paint, old dryer duct for arms and legs, and a circuit board from Radio Shack that we’d had for years) — the best part was, the kid had a super short buzzcut that year anyway, so we just slathered silver face paint over his whole scalp and gave him a metal strap headband that we found in the garage. Best looking robot costume I’d ever seen.

Maybe I got a little carried away with the cardboard boxes. We had this brilliant idea that three of them could go as a train: an engine, a coal car, and a caboose. For the engine, we slapped two big boxes together, painted ’em right, and threw an engineer’s hat on the kid. Best part? I found a perfect black trash can from the dollar store, so we fastened it to the top front of the engine as a smoke stack, then sloshed a little water into it and tossed in a chunk of dry ice. Steam! The coal car took a little planning, but it worked out. We gave the kid a big, open box that we piled full of bunch of newspaper “coal” pieces spray painted black. Had him wear an old shirt, smeared a smudge of black makeup on his face, and that was it. The cabboose was nifty, too; we managed to rig up a tiny little “back porch” with an undersized hurricane lamp hanging from it. (Lamp from the dollar store — are you seeing a theme here?)  Seen all together in a train, those three kids looked awesome.

But have you ever tried to get even one refrigerator carton (let alone three!!!) onto a neighbor’s front porch, in the dark, without kicking over any jack’o’lanterns or setting anyone’s costume on fire?

So … how was your Halloween?

(Also, keep watching this space — more Trigger Awareness Exercises on the way!)

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