Frugality and the holidays aren't a natural pairing. Christmas shopping, of course, is what you hear about, but Halloween is a close second. The rows of wrapped-up treats that threaten to rot your teeth, the overpriced, under-quality costumes that will last one hour of your child's life, the aftermath at home and the temptations in the office.
Sometimes, I truly feel like the Grinch that stole Halloween. For starters, I refuse to buy candy for trick-or-treaters (I get popcorn or play-dough instead. Two reasons: The incidence of childhood obesity and my personal fondness for chocolately goodness). And I admit to having major issues with the give-me attitude that heats up among the neighborhood children, who practically climbed all over my swollen, pregnant belly to grab things out of the treat bowl last year.
But now that my oldest is 3, we're tackling a new issue: What to wear. 2008 is different. It truly is a year of decisions.
So far this month, I've heard random comments about being Alvin and the Chipmunks (not sure if she means all three), a frog, a cheerleader a turtle, Cinderella (with "yellow hair" -- and she means it), and a few others that I've managed to purge from my brain. Of course, none of these options are particularly simple or cheap. And all require a shopping trip, something I cringe about these days.
It could be worse. My daughter's friend wants to be a pink Power Ranger, which comes in at a costly $46 for a costume, her mom reports.
Coming from a family that made their costumes (I was raised in the era of those horrible too-tight plastic masks and wrap-around sheaths for costumes), I struggle with the idea of buying cheaply made, un-reusable costumes to dress up my children in for Halloween, especially at such a young age.
The first year, my oldest wore a hand-me-down costume for exactly five minutes, long enough to take a photo. The next, she toddled around in comfortable black sweats, dog ears and a tail. The third year, a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader dress, found on eBay, which fit her until literally last week.
I tried to convince my daughter that she could wear a pink princess dress (fashioned out of last year's bridesmaid dress). No dice. I told her that the fairy godmothers changed Cinderella's dress pink and green. She got hung up on the green. Nevermind I've got the wrong Disney story -- it was Sleeping Beauty, not Cinderella.
But last night, a burst of inspiration hit. There's one Disney leading lady that my princess can pull off.
You see, tucked away in a box that I found recently was my first communion dress, circa 1983. And you know, it doesn't look that far off from the cover of Mary Poppins. I brought up the idea. Her face lit up. She was sold.
Yes, she'll be drowning in that decades-old dress, but only for that hour. But I can guarantee in the sea of princesses, she'll be the only Disney leading lady on the block who'll be prepared for rain.