When I was a child, I dreaded the yearly dilemma of what to wear for Halloween. Once I outgrew the obligatory witch-ghost-pumpkin stage (or at least the age when those costumes were cute rather than overdone), I tore out my hair trying to decide. Today, kids can scour the internet for creative, easy, and daring costume ideas. Back then, I had a ton of imagination without any artistic or sewing skills. Besides, I had stiff competition. In sixth grade, a classmate came to school dressed as a shower. No kidding, a shower! Somehow, he’d managed to rig up a working shower curtain that slid back and forth on a frame around his body.
Me? My mother dressed me up as a hobo.
One of my dad’s plaid flannel shirts padded with pillows underneath, ratty sweatpants, a hideous mask, and my hair frizzed out to kingdom come. Worst of all? My friends made me go trick-or-treating at our teacher’s house. He could not stop laughing. Yep, at me.
My family laughed, my friends laughed, and I’ve had to re-live the horror of that costume through far too many pictures.
To this day, I always wanted to be something cool for Halloween. Something witty that would make everyone think, “I wish I’d thought of that!” My craft-minded friends sew amazing steampunk and Dr. Who costumes for themselves, but I count myself lucky if I tie ladybug wings around my shoulders and find a matching trick-or-treat bucket.
Kat Astra, one of the main characters in my Kat and Natalie series, shares my dislike for Halloween costumes. In Lighting the Way, book two (book one is The Way Home), she tries to veto her roommate’s choice of costume for her:
“Natalie, no!” I stare at the form-fitting pink leotard with attached filmy skirts. I know she likes me in pink, but this is ridiculous. I finger the flimsy fabric and shudder. “Thank you for getting the Halloween costumes, but I’m not going to wear this the first time we meet the neighbors.”
Natalie tugs at the hem of my sturdy navy blue T-shirt as if to lift it over my head. “You said you’d wear what I chose, and you already vetoed my black cat idea,” she reminds me.
“I know, but…” My voice trails off as Natalie holds my arm out and drapes across it the leotard along with tights and shoes and some silly glittery thing.
“Go and try it on,” she urges me. She’s got another costume in a bag underneath her arm. “I’ll put mine on, too.” When I don’t respond or move, she swats my bottom. “Go on,” I said.