Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Preparations

Halloween, to Christians, is a pagan holiday. Because of this, some refuse to celebrate it. When our children were young, it was a greatly debated subject. I had a tug-of-war war within myself as this holiday often brings out the dark side of people. But then so can Christmas as the greedy use it to fill their own coffers.

As I've wondered about the holidays, I've come to realize that a holiday is what you make of it. You can choose how and what you celebrate despite what the world pressures us to do.

With this in mind, we set rule for Halloween for our family when they were small. No costumes that represent evil.  Just as an actors dresses the part to help them get into character, children do the same thing as they explore roles. Dress determines to a great degree how one acts. It's a proven fact and the reason behind school uniforms.

Evil, is not a role I wished my children to explore especially since they don't have the capability to fully compartmentalize. The lines between fantasy and reality are thin and they can easily be influenced. 

For  me, the goal of a holiday is to gain a sense of belonging, emotional warmth, growth, and learning to to be more self-less. 

I've discovered that the holidays is where the selfless shine and the sins of the selfish become more visible.     

Holidays create a measuring rod for myself.
They push me into the uncomfortable as I do things for others. Like the debate I had in the store about what paint to buy that would stick on the shell of a pumpkin. I read this label and that label and none of them gave me a clue. As my stomach began to twist in discomfort, over such a silly thing, I decided it was ridiculous, threw my hands in the air and just bought two different kinds. Surely, one of them would work. If not we'd try markers.

I know traditionally, we've always carved pumpkins, our oldest helped with her first one when she was two. But this year, our oldest grand daughter complained that scooping out the insides with your hands is just really yucky. One has to be flexible with traditions, so this year painting it was. 
We had chicken noodle soup and biscuits and the minute the kids were done, they disappeared. We could hear a dresser drawer in our room opening. We had to smile knowing what they were up to.  They returned with one of Papa's work t-shirts on. Papa's t-shirts make a good cover up for their clothes.
Out came the paints and our daughter's nerves, just shy of wringing her hands. Oh wait, she was wringing her hands. Despite this, the girls had a wonderful time, painting their pumpkins and a cazillion pictures on plain white paper. The decorating of sugar cookies was almost ignored, they were having so much fun. When bed time loomed near, we had to force them, despite the flowing tears, to quit and go home to bed.  

Next week, we will cook the pumpkins, make salted pumpkins seeds to eat and pies, cookies etc. Jack-o-lanterns have never been the end at this household.
Monday was also dress up and parties at school.

Making part or all of the costumes is a large portion of the anticipation of the holiday. It is a creative learning experience. Granted, more for me than the children but still, they learn as they watch and help with the decision making. Looking around at in expensive household objects, and seeing how they can be used to create a fantasy attire expands their minds. When they are older, more of the project will become theirs.

I admire some friends who spent sixteen hours with their ten or is it eleven year old son creating a Transformer costume out of cardboard, Wow, it was quite impressive! Pretty much just cardboard and lots of tape. Some would say what a waste of hours. I couldn't help but think of all the things their son learned, designing, following plans, using math, the importance of precision, and a score of other character building principle, not to mention learning to stick with a project until it is completed even though it takes a long time. Halloween, for them, went way beyond dressing up. 
For our middle grand daughter, we just added a few things such as a net collar and some whimsical antennas to her boughten attire. Her mom painted her face and added glittery hair spray. You can tell she is pleased with the results.
But for our oldest, who at first wanted to be a Clam, (yes, folks, a clam but luckily changed to Velma on Scooby Doo), I had to try and remember how to make a skirt from measurement only. I gave up and hit the Internet. After all our youngest, (a boy)  is 26 and he definitely didn't need a skirt, though he has been tempted to buy a kilt, testing out his Scottish roots. It was his older sisters and myself that I made skirts for, from measurements. That was a long time ago.

I found a pretty good tutorial on the Internet but not quite the way I'd done it before. After ripping out the skirt a few too many times for my comfort, trying to get it to work, I got it put together. Not as smooth a finish as I'd like but I've got the hang of it now and am going to make a few more especially since I remember how I did it long ago. Maybe as part of Christmas gifts but, we'll talk about that later.

The rest was of the costume was simple. As for our youngest, she didn't care what her costume was like since she KNOWS she's the cutest thing ever so we didn't do much to it.

For kids, isn't that what dressing up in a costume is about, adventure and feeling good about themselves? When they are small, I'll guarantee they don't pay much attention to what others are wearing. That is unless they feel their costume is way below par.

So despite the work, stress caused stomach aches that sent me hurriedly to the bathroom over the whole deal (yes, it is hard on this Autistic Gramdma), it was worth it. I had only to look at the ecstatic joy in their eyes and listen to the "Grandma, I love you!!!" said with emphatic heart felt assurance to know that they have no doubt of the love we have for them.  

Our children have often voiced that they had a wonderful childhood. I swear we celebrated almost every single holiday. Green mash potatoes and the like on Saint Patricks Day, creating paper May Day baskets filled with cookies on May Day, etc. etc. etc.

 I'll guarantee our kids knew the holidays and why they were celebrated. Not because of tradition but my longing for the power a holiday can have to bind a family together. 

 Sometimes the lack of creates a want but I've observed this is only in those with a driving character. Unfortunately, most who have done without just continue on with the doing without, think welfare. Traditions, good or bad, are powerful and live on.

 It may be the role of parents to use holidays to teach and bind their families, with grand parents playing a supportive role, but if they fail in this duty, despite encouragement, the responsibility lies with us the grandparents to do as much as possible.  It's a great love that drives us forth to give, teach, and bind.
Our step-grandson was at his mothers and wasn't around until Halloween night. We missed helping him create a costume and paint a pumpkin. Hopefully, we will be able to have the opportunity, next year.  

No comments:

Post a Comment