Monday, October 31, 2011

Old Gypsies Never Die...They Just Learn to Cackle

I have always loved Halloween. When I was a child I adored the decorations, especially the big ghost my parents and I arranged on a pulley to fly down the driveway one year, and the floating gauze ghosts I’ve made with my children to hang in the trees of our driveway now, complete with balloon faces that light up with the help of a glow stick. I also used to enjoy our hometown’s downtown tradition of painting scenes on store windows (oh how thrilled I was to be chosen to paint a winning scene one year). And of course each year I am amused by the creepy music and scary movies of the season. But I especially loved dressing up in costume. In fact I never truly outgrew this. It’s probably part of the reason why I continue being involved with theater to this day.

Although I wore an array of costumes over the years, being a gypsy was my favorite character to play. In fact, I remember dressing up as a gypsy a few times over the years, including one summer when our playground recreation group sponsored a “Gypsy costume contest”. (Apparently I was not the only child fascinated by the idea of gypsies! ). I remember my mother suggesting that my gypsy costume could include wearing lots of her fashion jewelry and bright blue eye shadow. Of course, I’m not sure these fashion accessories have any validity, but oh how I loved being donned in my mother’s things. I felt beautiful!

When my children were little, I enjoyed helping them each select their costumes each year. For their first Halloween, each of my babies were dressed as pumpkins and wore a simple orange sleeper. Over the years as they grew, the girls and I would plan the making of each costume and make trips to Goodwill to find clothing to transform. One year my mom sewed Sydney a “Nala” costume, a lioness fashioned after the character in Disney’s The Lion King. It was an adorable outfit! Sydney and I also enjoyed finding original costume ideas such as a few we borrowed from Family Fun magazine (Baby on the back of an old hag, was one of my favorites), but Emma always chose to be something scary (a ghost, a witch, a vampire). She would always play the part too, posing for many pictures with her scary teeth or green face paint. When Paul came along, I wondered what he’d select to do with each year’s costume. He chose to be a knight one year which was cute, but I think my favorite costumes of his came most recently in the last two years when he was first a sumo wrestler and then a taco. After a few years of watching him make safe costume decisions so as not to be seen as anything other than “cool” by his peer group, his costume choices these past two years show the Paul I know best--the one with a leader’s confidence and a fun sense of humor.

There is something wonderful about how a costume can transform us, embolden us, humor us, or reveal us. Whether we are dressed in one to play a stage character or simply heading to a Halloween party, playing make-believe for an hour or for an evening is great fun. It seems that lately I haven’t taken the time to make myself a costume to wear on Halloween. I suppose that’s a little sad. Yet I still don my favorite witch hat as the trick-or-treaters come by, and as is the usual tradition, my children ask me to do my now famous witch cackle so as to shock and surprise their newest friends. If only gypsies cackled! Then my costume for tonight would be perfect!

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