Sunday, October 24, 2010

Costume Traditions

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved dressing up, usually as a clown or witch, and can't wait till the night-of to hand out candy to the Trick or Treaters. I like making a big deal over decorating the front porch and keeping it "just enough", but "not too" scary.
Every year, I make sure I acknowledge the great costumes on the little ghosts and goblins (and  spidermen, bumblebees, princesses, football players, etc)... I'm not sure how it makes them feel, but it makes me happy.

When my kids came along, I started putting together costumes and dressing them up for Halloween. 
For Dallas' first Halloween, he was a baseball player. Only seven months old, I dressed him in a little red and white striped outfit with the cap to match.
Every Halloween I made new costume. A clown outfit with yarn "hair" attached under the edge of the hat and makeup on his little face. A cowboy, dracula, the list goes on.
For Shanel, I did the same. She's been an unhappy ballerina, (she wasn't having any of this "dress up" stuff), a "Jem" doll, (she still reminds me of the trauma she suffered when certain kids at school pointed out to her, the mis-spelled name on the front of her dress), a witch, a hobo, a pumpkin, a clown, and on and on. 

Over the years, there were many "carefully thought out" costumes. I'd gather items from Goodwill and our closets. Big shoes, hats, gloves, belts and wigs were added to our collection.
I'd get the sewing machine out for some of the costumes, sometimes staying up all night to finish my project.
I prided myself in putting together these costumes for the kids. Never a "store-bought" costume. I thought it was more fun to come up with the idea and see it through. Besides, it was much cheaper and the quality was better.
We'd take pictures of the kids each year to compare with the year before.

Even as adults, the kids like dressing up and have come up with some great costumes.  
They've used things I saved over the years and have added to the collection
Dressing up for work, school, parties, I've helped them with costumes and makeup.
I'm glad the kids have enjoyed this.

A few weeks ago, Dallas brought his six year old son, Gavin, over.  
Gavin couldn't wait to tell me his dad bought him a Halloween costume. 
Dallas couldn't wait to tell me how much he paid for it.
Then, with a little sarcasm and a smirk on his face, Dallas said "Yeah, we never got to buy a costume at the store. We always had to make our costumes". 

Ohhhh... wowww.... way to stab your mom in the heart, Dallas. 
Cut my heart right out of my chest.
I knew he was joking with me, but deep inside, I wondered, did he really feel this way?
Did I deprive my kids some Halloween tradition? I figured we were making our own traditions. Did most kids buy their costumes? 
Did I really need one more thing about their childhoods to worry about?

I told Dallas I thought they liked coming up with their costumes each year and putting them together. I didn't think they cared about the ones at the store. 
He mentioned again, they never got to buy one.

I didn't really think any more about the costume he purchased for Gavin or the comment he made about having to make them when he was growing up. It didn't bother me like I let on. 
If he wanted to buy a costume at the store, that was fine. Less work for me. 

About a week or so later we went to lunch together. Dallas told me they're having another costume contest at his work. He's won this contest a couple of times with my help. We've used  makeup, hairspray, and articles out of the boxes I've saved for so many years.
I asked what he was going to be and he told me. I told him it sounded like a great idea. 
I didn't ask if he needed help. 

    Maybe he was going to buy this costume.                                                                                                                
             And then:         "Do you think you could make my costume for me, Mom?"
 "Of course", I said with a smile ...and a little smirk....   ....and a warm feeling inside.

So, after:   
2 tubes of silver makeup, 
4 yards of silver vinyl fabric, 
3 yards of elastic, 
1 silver painted funnel, 
72 rivets, 27 snaps, 
                  and 1 red heart snapped to the front of his jacket, 
                 .. here he is..... Dallas.... The Tin Man.

                                     And, YES, he did win First Place.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Ring

Two years ago my phone rang.
My dad's phone number showed up on the caller I.D. 
With a slight amount of fear, I stared at the phone while it rang for a fourth time. 
"Don't answer it" was my first thought. "He's calling to tell you Grandma is gone" 

Grandma was 97 years old and each year we still had her was a blessing. 

"Hello?" I asked quietly and with caution.
"Hi Honey, this is Dad"
"Why are you calling me?"  I asked in an almost accusing voice. 
My dad hardly ever calls. We talk on birthdays or Christmas. I usually call him, so when I saw that caller I.D. I thought the worst.

My dad wasn't calling with the sad news I know is coming one day, he was calling to ask if I had received the package he mailed me a week prior. 
I had, in fact, received it that day. I just hadn't had a chance to call and thank him.

Several years ago, (25 to be exact), I asked my dad if I could have his high school class ring if he ever decided to get rid of it.
He shrugged it off and said, "Oh, that thing isn't worth anything. I'll probably just take it and get what little bit of money the gold is worth".
I told him I really hoped he would consider giving it to me for the sentimental value. 

A few years later, I asked him, again, about the ring. He said he wasn't even sure where "the damn thing" was. I told him again, I'd like to have it if he finds it one day. He didn't seem to worry that it might mean something to me.

Over the next few years, I asked, (well, badgered him, I suppose), a few more times about that ring and finally figured I should shut-up about it.
Neither of us mentioned it again. 
No Biggie.

My dad doesn't show much in the way of emotion. He doesn't reminisce much. He doesn't seem to be sentimental and he doesn't let too many things bother him. 
I call it "The Butterfield Way". 
Really... it's something about that family. My sister is the same way. So is Grandma (even though she's a Stott and Butterfield is her married name).

On the day of that phone call, 2 years ago, I opened the mailbox and inside, on top of the junk mail, was a small manila envelope. 
The envelope was from my dad. 
Now, mind you, he doesn't send much in the way of correspondence, so this was a nice surprise.

I had no idea what might be in it, but I didn't wait to get back to the house before I tore open that envelope. 
Inside was a ring box and inside that ring box was Daddy's class ring. 
Of course, now, after all the years of bugging him about it, I felt a little silly as I took the ring out of that little box and slipped it on my middle finger. 

Tears welled in my eyes as I looked at the ring and remembered how, as a child, it looked so big on my dad's finger. Now, as an adult, it looked small and fit my finger perfectly. 
The edges of the ring had smoothed over the years.
The gold felt soft and, in a strange way, warm. 

After scolding him for calling me (because he hardly ever did) and scaring the crap out of me: "You know, Daddy, one of these days, I am going to get that call", 
I thanked him. 
I thanked him for remembering I wanted the ring. 
I thanked him for setting it aside.
I thanked him for sending it to me.

Of course, in his "Butterfield Way" he just said, "Oh, I decided it was time to clean out some things and get rid of them and when I came across the ring, I remembered you wanted it."
He went on to tell me after the first time I asked about the ring, he put it away for me, and forgot about it. 

Since that day, I look at my dad a little differently.
I think he's more sentimental than I thought before. 
I also think his heart is softer than he wants to show. 
I know he does things his way and when he wants to.

I'm the same way. 

(and, Grandma will be 99 next month)