Also, as a young mother, it seemed to me that there was an unspoken competition when it came to putting costumes together. If I dared to show up to a pre-school party with my kids decked out in pre-fab costumes (some type of vinyl body cover and a plastic mask so popular in the 80's) there would be looks of pity and then whispers as one-by-one the other moms would shake their heads at my kids and then walk away, dragging their child-model in a handsewn costume with them. I'm not much of a competitor when it comes to things I don't know how to do. I decided then to hate Halloween and all the tricks and treats that went with it.
But perhaps the biggest reason I began to dread the orange holiday as soon as the first leaf yellowed is obvious - I TEACH MIDDLE SCHOOL! Are you kidding me? It seems my fate was incredibly twisted. 11-13 year olds are unteachable at Halloween! Right up there with Valentine's Day and Winter Break, the days surrounding that ghastly day have always been difficult. Candy gathered in the 'hood the night before means candy in the school the day after. And kids aren't even sneaky about it! A question about a character in a story was once drowned out by an across-the-classroom trade: "I'll give you my candy corn for your malted milk balls." Let's just say the rest of the class missed the "malted milk" part, and it took me the remainder of the period to settle them down.
But one year someone talked me into participating in our school-wide Halloween celebration. I resisted, but then she brought me the costume. Our school mascot was the Red Devils (since changed to Cardinals due to the hellish nature of the name), and the costume was a bright red, lycra unitard with matching headband/horns and a tail. It was so beautiful I couldn't resist. It looked like this, only sans the flames and wings:
There was a contest - one money prize for a teacher and one for a student. And we wore our costumes to school on Halloween Day. I absolutely cannot believe that I wore that skin-tight outfit to school. Yes, I was a 30-year-old very skinny teacher at the time. But STILL! What were my 7th graders thinking?
I tell you what they were thinking...that their teacher won $50 for the best costume! From then on, I was hooked. Halloween is awesome!! I even began to incorporate Halloween into our classroom activities. The students love our Fright Fair project; they all write scary stories, and then they're assigned projects that match their interests and skills. Some kids design, make, and deliver the invitations. Others design and then decorate the room.
On Halloween Day teachers come to hear story readings. The room is dark except for one small light in the middle of a story-telling circle and the orange lights that are weaved through the spiderwebs hanging on the walls and the whiteboard. Carrot cake is served to the visitors and a ghoulish time is had by all.
Last night as I sat on a hayride and watched my granddaughter (Cinderella) treat-or-treat, I thought Halloween is my favorite holiday!
Also known as....if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.