You should have seen me 20 years ago. The magic I could pull off with a cardboard box and some construction paper was not to be believed. And on top of that, I had unwitting subjects to work with. I could do anything I wanted to do to them.

I drew goatees on baby girls. I dressed my son up in a Barney costume one of our friends had given us as a kind of joke.

Sorry, kids.

Sorry, kids.

I spent hours spray painting boxes and working with stencils to make this circus train with the big brother engineer and the baby lion in the caboose.

Back when people did what I told them to do.

Back when people did what I told them to do.

Even later, when they wanted to be more conventional characters for Halloween, I put costumes together out of our ever-growing dress-up box (Please notice the artful way I worked turtlenecks into princess costumes for both warmth and modesty. No whore-y princess outfits for my girls. They are still pissed about that)).

My princesses.

Pretty, pretty princesses.

Even as my kids got older, I still tried to stay creative with their costumes, as evidenced by this very-amazing Wayne from Wayne’s World (Garth was pretty awesome, too).

Schwing!

Schwing!

I even made an adorable cape for a Little Red Riding Hood costume using felt and a glue gun but since it was for one of my younger kids, there is no picture to use as evidence.

But, maybe due to the invention of the Internet and Facebook in particular, I’ve kind of dropped the ball on Halloween costumes with my younger guy. Lame Wolverine.

Ho-hum.

Boring.

Ho-hum Harry Potter.

P1000611

The year everyone was the Boy Wizard.

The only creativity coming out of this house nowadays is when my Baby Girl got involved, like the time a few years ago she used YouTube videos to teach herself how to sew the backpack for Finn from AdventureTime (a cartoon I am convinced is geared towards stoned college kids and not 11-year-olds).

But this year, my 22nd Halloween as a mom, kind of tops them all. I neither worked with a glue gun nor visited one of those pop-up Halloween stores to buy a costume. We picked pumpkins out of a big box in front of our grocery store and not a field. And I didn’t even bother getting the tombstones out of the garage to set up on the lawn or have one of the kids string cobwebs along the shrubs in front of the house.

My little guy, who’s in the sixth grade, said initially he was going to be one of the guys from “Men in Black” (presumably Tommy Lee Jones),  but later modified that, keeping the suit and calling himself a “businessman” instead. Interesting. It’s the one day of the year you can be anything you want to be and he wants to dress like he just got off the boat from Wall Street.

He had a hand-me-down blazer in his closet and got his sister to tie his tie (what can’t she teach herself how to do on YouTube?). He came down this morning with his hair all gelled and squeezed into his black band concert khakis from the spring and I had to laugh. All he needed was an American flag pin on his lapel and he could tell people he was either a CEO or a Young Republican.

My very own baby CEO.

My very own baby CEO.

My neighbor came over to exercise this morning and I showed her the picture of my baby Master of the Universe and we laughed and then she scrolled through her photos to show me what her 15-year-old-son pulled together about 15 minutes before his bus came this morning.

I got a rock.

***I got a rock.

And how we get from spray painting boxes to cutting a couple of holes in a sheet, I’ll never know. I just know that I kind of miss drawing scars on their faces, the Halloween parade at the elementary school and reminding little ones a thousand times as they raced from house to house to say “Trick or treat” and “Thank you.”

Tonight my little guy will go off with his posse to fill their pillowcases with as much candy as humanly possible as I drink red wine with all the moms back at home. He’s at his dad’s this weekend so I’ll miss seeing his loot poured out and categorized on the floor and swiping all of the candy he deems gross (come to me, Almond Joy bars).

I’m going to meet up later with another single mom and mother to older children and maybe we’ll reminisce about the good old days — the costumes and endless trick-or-treating. How much we miss it.

Or maybe we’ll just drink a cocktail and dance like moms who have done their time in the pumpkin patch.

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13 thoughts on “The Great Decline: One Mom’s Halloween Timeline

  1. I thought Halloween 2012 never really happened because of Sandy? I remember all the 4th graders being so upset about not doing the “Monster Mash” dance at the Halloween Parade. Boy, do I miss those days…

  2. Awesome piece…true and funny! I too missed the candy sort-and-trade session, but maybe all that crap is better off living at Dad’s house (for the sake of my hips!). It’s still fun to hang out with friends giving out candy and washing down Milk Duds with Merlot:)

    • Renee … you read my mind! My 11yo came home from weekend at the dad’s last night and I was like, “Gimme your candy bag,” and he was like, “I left it at dad’s,” and my muffin-top was like, “Phew.” All I have at home are some bags of Skittles and who wants something you can’t pair with wine? 😉

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