It’s almost October, and that means that we’re only a few weeks away from Halloween. And I love Halloween. I love it because…well, because of this…
Azita is so cute in a costume, like this pumpkin costume she inherited from her cousins. And, Azita loves costumes, too. When she tried this one on, she insisted on wearing it for the whole morning, even the hat. And she hates hats.
I guess I just know that Halloween with Azita will be magical.
Halloween wasn’t always magical for me, though. My mother wasn’t exactly the PTA type, and she rarely got into the spirit of helping her children participate in the experiences that make people feel nostalgic about childhood. Halloween fell squarely in that category. One year she dressed my sister and I up like Little Red Riding Hood, and that was really fun. Things went downhill after that.
When I was in the third grade, my sister and I started at a new school. We were desperate to fit in, and things weren’t going so well. The Halloween parade seemed to be our chance to wow our classmates and show them just how cool we were. So, we began our campaign for coolness early, as in on the first day of school. Specifically, we wanted one of those store-bought costumes, something like Princess Leia or a Care Bear or Jem. We begged for a month, and with Halloween just a few days away, we began to realize that this thing we wanted was not going to happen.
But then on the night before Halloween, my mother took us to Dart Drug and let us loose in the seasonal section. Which was really awesome. Except there were no costumes left. Actually, there were costumes left. There was an entire rack of costumes for us to choose from. Our choices were any of the four band members of KISS. Yup. The guys who paint their faces and rock n’ roll all night and party every day. So what could we do? This was how I found myself on the morning of Halloween, getting dressed as Gene Simmons.
That’s when the real disaster struck. As I tried to slip in to my costume, I lost my balance and my foot went right through the plastic ripping my costume in half. The school bus was arriving in just minutes, and I had nothing to wear to the Halloween parade.
That’s when my mother had her brilliant idea, which is actually when the real disaster struck. She disappeared into her room and reappeared holding a traditional Kurdish costume. Made entirely of shiny fabric and emblazened with sequins, metallic rickrack and little round mirrors, it consisted of a shirt, a vest, a giant poofy skirt, and a voluminous pair of pants. A pair of slippers befitting a genie accompanied the outfit.
I died on the spot. This was not the sort of cool I was going for, but what choice did I have? So I put the costume on, and what comes next will haunt me forever. It was at this point that my mother insisted I make use of the mask that accompanied the now destroyed Gene Simmons costume, because it would be a waste, after all.
And this is how I participated in the Laurel Ridge Elementary Halloween parade dressed as a Kurdish dancer who looked remarkably like Gene Simmons. I’m pretty sure this is also why I was never cool in high school. Traumatic events like this can scar a person for life, and this one did. To this day, my sister and I die of laughter when we even think about this day. Die. We’ve died a thousand deaths just thinking about it.
Which is why I care so much about Halloween for Azita, because it matters. Childhood memories matter. They are things you can hold on to, and by George, Azita will have many fun Halloweens to remember fondly in 30 years.
But I can pretty much guarantee that they will be even more special to me.