My mother made it no secret that she hated Halloween.
Was it a rejection of the dark traditions too close to the pagan rituals from which her Roman Catholic religion tried to distance itself? Or was it that six kids could manage to get an impressive amount of cavities? She was never too clear on the reasons, just that the holiday was a chore, plain and simple.
She hated buying bags of candy (which, in general we did not have in our house).
She hated Mischief Night (there were plenty of trees to hang toilet paper from in our yard).
But most of all it seemed, she hated the tradition of costumes.
My brothers would often opt to be the now politically incorrect "bums." This meant looking dirty, sometimes blacking-out teeth, and wearing torn clothes featuring pants held up by twine. In other words, imitating the homeless. All this and a pillowcase brought home a haul of candy.
But then there was me, the only girl. I admired my brothers for sure, but never wanted to be a bum or anything scary for that matter. This often left costumes of the girlie variety including princess and fairies. One year, to my mother's dismay, I spied a Tinkerbell costume in Woolworths. It had a short-sleeved top with a glitter collar, wings, and a mask of Tinkerbell's impish face.
Mom protested the purchase. She claimed that masks were a bad idea because they were hot and you couldn't see very well while wearing them. Somehow this combination put us in danger of being hit by a car. The connection was never crystal clear, but the drama always made an impression on me. In general, I did not argue.
And yet, there was something about that Tinkerbell costume that made me insane for it. So somehow, I begged her into a corner about it and she gave in. Delirious with success, I played at being Tinkerbell for the weeks leading up to the big night of Trick or Treating.
When the big night came, I excitedly got myself ready. Short-sleeved glitter blouse (check!), delicate authentic-looking fairy wings (check!), and plastic face mask (check!), when suddenly my mother came in my room and said,
"Oh no! It's freezing outside. You have to wear a coat."
Tinkerbell wears no coat! Everybody knows that! The elastics that held the wings on didn't fit over the bulky coat sleeves! You couldn't see the glitter blouse at all! I screamed! I cried! My mother exclaimed that boys were easier to raise than girls! She complained, just like ever year, that she hated Halloween.
Forty-five minutes later, my brothers were grumbling that not only did they have to suffer the indignity of their little sister Trick or Treating with them, but they were still waiting because of my fit.
My mother gave me one withering look and said, "Well, I guess you can stay home with me and answer the door."
Quick as a wink, I grabbed my goody bag, put the mask on, and ran out the door.
Artistic expression loses out to booty once again. And after all, Halloween comes but once a year. I wore the wings the other 364 days.