Category Archives: Halloween

Harry The Bee

People either like costumes or they don’t. I fall squarely in the don’t column, although that wasn’t always the case. I enjoyed dressing up for Halloween when I was a little girl. I remember a few epic costume parties in high school and college. But somewhere in the space between being a kid and having kids, the allure of Halloween costumes faded away.

It was in that middle place that I had a molar pregnancy that resulted in cancer in my uterus and a lot of time to ponder if I would ever have children at all. It was easily the scariest thing that ever happened to me, and it sent me down a deep rabbit hole of fear, anxiety, and depression. Ultimately I healed, but not without a lot of time, therapy, and Harry the Bee.

Harry was the Boston terrier my husband and I got when we couldn’t have a baby. The Bee was the Halloween costume we bought for him on a whim at a chic pet store that sold uber-expensive canine clothing and accessories to people who didn’t have to worry about preschool tuition payments.

We also bought Harry a dry clean-only argyle sweater, but in our defense, we didn’t know about the washing instructions until it was covered in dirt. The sweater was undeniably an impractical purchase, but the bumblebee costume was worth every silly penny.

It’s true that parenthood gives you fresh eyes, which make things like Disney World, Christmas morning, the ice cream truck, and Halloween fun all over again.  Eventually, we had two healthy children, but until that future arrived, Harry was our baby and dressing him in a bumblebee costume for Halloween unearthed a sensation of joy inside of me that had long been dormant.

Harry saved me when I needed to be saved and made me feel safe in a world that without warning had become insecure. For eight Halloweens and through all of the ups, downs, ins, and outs of marriage and motherhood, Harry was my anchor.  Year after year, he and his black and yellow stripes and bumblebee wings reminded me that everything would be okay.

Last year, on Harry’s ninth Halloween, he was too weak to wear his bee costume.  He had insulinoma, a cancer in his pancreas, and despite our best efforts and interventions, we couldn’t save him. October 31st was, in fact, Harry’s last day here on Earth. We whispered our goodbyes all throughout the night and held him close the next morning when he was finally released from his pain and suffering.

In the days that followed, we got rid of or donated most of our pet supplies, but not before letting the kids decorate and fill memory boxes with items, including photos, drawings, and squeaky toys, that they wanted to keep to remember their big (canine) brother. My husband also tucked away some sentimental items. A harness and a tag, I think. I kept something special, too. Harry’s bumblebee costume.

The irony isn’t lost on me that we lost our sweet Harry the Bee on Halloween.  A year later, I’m not sure I’m ready to celebrate this holiday without him, but if Harry’s life and death taught me anything, it’s that joy hides in the most unexpected places and almost always lies at the end of a deep rabbit hole.

~In loving memory of Harry the Bee~

This essay originally appeared on Mamalode.

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Filed under death, Halloween, Harry

September

When I run up a steep hill, I chant, “Sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries,” for motivation. During the long, hot, sticky, and unstructured weeks of summer, I chant, “September, September, September.”

I love September. I love the weather. I love the foliage. I love the clothes. I love the warm cider and apple donuts. I love the new television season. I love the fresh start and the feeling that anything is possible. I love it all, and I want nothing more than to revel in this most wonderful time of the year.

But it’s a whirlwind. There are birthdays and anniversaries and back to school nights and soccer games and doctor’s appointments and teacher conferences and books to (want to but never actually) read and pumpkins to carve and Halloween costumes to order and crafting fantasies (and failures) and flu shots and school projects and more birthdays and anniversaries and holiday shopping and party planning and the grand finale of ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmasNewYears, at which point I’ll surely chant, “sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries, sweet potato fries.”

September is like a scrumptious amuse-bouche. It’s a delectable, bite-sized start to an epic meal that always leaves me stuffed to the gills and incapable of taking another bite before the main course ever arrives (except for sweet potato fries because there’s always room for sweet potato fries).

Outside, the trees are turning gorgeous shades of orange, yellow, and red, and I keep telling my boys, “Look up, look up, look up,” because soon the branches will be bare, the wind will whip, the deep cold will settle in, and the next time I come up for air will be mid-January, at which point I’ll wistfully chant, “Summer, summer, summer,” followed almost immediately by, “September, September, September.”

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Filed under anniversary, birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Hanukkah, holidays

Not A Box

Every Halloween, I get a longing (and a cold sweat) to make a homemade costume out of an old box from the garage.

When I was a kid, we didn’t buy expensive costumes. We rummaged through closets and junk drawers and toy bins and made costumes. But alas, my 21st century, shopaholic kids aren’t interested in such out-of-the-box, made-from-a-box pursuits. Instead, they wait eagerly for the pop-up Halloween store to open its doors, and they spend gobs of money on overpriced, over-muscled, and over-commercialized costumes, like Superman, Obi-Wan-Kenobe, Optimus Prime, and Max Steel. (I have no idea who Max Steel is either, but his costume is collecting dust in one of my many messy closets.)

It’s not that I’ve never tried to make one of the kids a Halloween costume from a box. It’s that I’ve never ever succeeded. This year, Dylan and Riley are dressing up as Captain America (shield sold separately!) and a Hot Wheels racecar driver (the yellow one!), respectively.

I’ve accepted my fate. I’m the Mama of two boys who don’t want to wear a costume made out of a box.  Or am I?

A funny thing happened recently.

RileyInBox

Do you know who’s inside that box?

Riley! Riley who drags boxes from the garage into the house when I’m not looking! Riley who uses tape, paper towel rolls, pipe cleaners, birthday candles, and glue (so much glue!) to turn boxes into space ships, grocery stores, and monster crushers! Riley who dreams up the wildest, strangest, and most out-of-the-box ideas into which to turn a box!

I blame the fact that I didn’t connect these dots sooner on Minecraft. (To be clear, I blame everything on Minecraft.)

Riley has to dress up as a storybook character for the costume parade at school, and he can’t wear his Hot Wheels racecar driver costume because we don’t have a Hot Wheels book (thank God), but he can be a racecar because of this

NotBoxCover

Not a Box is a book about a rabbit that insists his box is not a box. Rather, it’s a racecar or a robot or a pirate ship or a hot air balloon or a tugboat or a space ship…or anything he imagines!

The way I see it, this is my last chance to make a homemade costume before Riley’s old enough to figure out that costumes made by mom aren’t cool.

“Riley,” I asked tentatively one night (while hand-feeding him marshmallows), “how about Not A Box for the costume parade? We could take a box from the garage and turn it into a ‘not a box’ racecar. What do you think?”

Silence. (Not Minecraft silence, but thoughtful silence.)

“What do you think?” I asked again.

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?” I asked.

“Okay,” he said.

OKAY!!!

Holy crap! One of my kids said I could make a costume out of a box!

NotABoxPages

Be patient, Mamas. Dreams do come true.

notacarfinal

#HappyHalloween

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Filed under boys, craft project, Crafty Mama, Halloween