This beautiful Halloween story came in from Catherine Hedge, who doesn’t yet have a blog. I decided to use it as a guest post.
Reading her story and the comment from Merry Simmons, I start to feel that there’s as much family in Halloween as in Christmas…
Money was tight when I was a kid. Our Halloween costumes were usually Mom’s dresses hiked up with a belt or a paper bag with eye holes…often in the wrong place. One year, though, I had the best costume ever!
I was twelve, the fateful year when our family traditions said, “You’re getting too old. This is your last year!”
I was already 5’4”, about 105 pounds, flat chested, and middle school awkward. No way was I going to wear Mom’s clothes and stuff in tissue breasts. Sheets were too precious to cut up for ghost costumes. My little sister snagged the gypsy beads and scarf before I could. It was already 6:00 and my siblings had finished their hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. I was desperate. If I didn’t find something fast, I’d lose any chance for those precious Milky Way bars and Tootsie Rolls.
I was on my way to the paper bag collection with a pair of scissors when my dad saw me. When he asked if I was okay, I started sobbing. It seemed a great injustice that it was my last year for trick or treating and I was going out as a Safeway bag head.
Some kids are lucky. Their fathers don’t say things like, “Stop being such a baby!” or “If you’d only planned ahead, you wouldn’t be in this predicament!” I was lucky.
My dad took me back into the folk’s bedroom and opened up the cedar chest. He pulled out a package wrapped in brown craft paper and string. I still remember the slight mothball smell. I stood there sniffling while Daddy revealed his WWII sailor suit; deep blue wool bell bottoms, a heavy v-necked top with a ribbon trimmed back flap, and a white cap. He left the room while I tried it on.
I pulled on the pants. They had a square flap in the front with at least a dozen anchor shaped buttons. A draw string like shoe laces inched up the back. I pulled the string tight. Without looking, I knew the uniform fitted me perfectly. Cinched up to my small waist, the fabric accentuated my newly curving hips. I didn’t look like a boy at all. My mom came in the room. (She was more the “If you’d only planned ahead” type.) But when she saw me, she smiled and said, “You’re growing up so fast!”
My brothers and sisters were making a fuss, hollering at me to hurry. I rounded the corner. As one, they seemed to gasp, “You get to wear that?!”
Very ceremoniously, my dad took his white sailor cap and showed me how to wear it just right, a bit to the side, pulled to the front into a V just about touching my eyebrow. Then, surrounded by my jealous siblings, I strutted out the door.
Yes, it was my last Halloween costume, but I’ll never forget it. Even dressed up like a boy, for the first time I felt I was beautiful.