It is that time of year when the leaves start to change, the weather gets cooler and you can smell that fall is in the air. My thoughts often turn to Halloween and the impending question of what to be for Halloween. Even as an adult with no kids I dressed up for the holiday. My co-workers and I always tried to do a theme, and we were everything from an 80s rock band to loofas. Now that I have kids, I start organizing our coordinating outfits months in advance. I love Halloween and even if we don't have some amazing plans for the day, we still dress up and take pictures. As per tradition, since I was a little girl, I try to come up with original ideas and make (or enlist help to make) my costumes. Why do I do this? It's not because I'm the craftiest person in the world, I'm really not, but rather for much deeper meanings.
Most of the costumes I've made have been with help from others, or at least moral support, as we all made our matching costumes. I remember spending team building time cutting vinyl and gluing Velcro to soda can costumes my co-workers made for one fun holiday. I also remember my mom teaching me how to sew a red vest so I could be Abu from Aladdin the year I was obsessed with monkeys (OK, so I'm still obsessed). The point is the time we spent together and lessons we learned were priceless. We worked as a team with a common goal and while it wasn't always easy, we stayed united and got the work done.
Have you ever tried to make an R2-D2 dress for a 1-year-old without a pattern? Well, I have (actually it was my mom, but I helped). Or how about making a wearable train engine out of a cardboard box? That is what I'm currently working on. Some of these costumes are hard to figure out, and it takes a lot of problem solving throughout the creative process. It puts thinking skills to work and challenges your patience, but once you figure it out the satisfaction is your reward. It is a great way to teach perseverance and not giving up when there seems to be no solution. It also challenges us to look for other resources for help. Maybe a friend is a great seamstress or your neighbor loves to paint. Reaching out to others is a great way to grow and learn humility as we ask for help.
Sometimes the hardest part is coming up with what you are going to be. I have spent hours brainstorming ideas, especially if I want to do a group costume. I like to have a theme and have everyone happy with what or who they are. It doesn't always work out, but it definitely gets the creative juices flowing. One year I ended up taking parts from three different costumes to create my one-of-a-kind Darth Vader outfit in a sea of duplicates. It took some finagling, but in the end it turned out exactly like what I pictured in my mind. Thinking outside of the box is an important life lesson. There will be several times throughout your life when the obvious solution is not going to work. By flexing this muscle it will be easier to see other options that might be even better than you thought.
I think the main reason I create my own costumes is because of tradition. We did not have a lot of extra money growing up, and with my parents needing to dress four kids it forced us to make homemade costumes. As a child I envied the kids in the perfect store-bought costumes. I wished mine could be as exact as theirs. Now, as an adult, I cherish the costumes I made all on my own or with help from my family. I want my own kids to have those same experiences. I want them to love the process of deciding what to be, how to make it look just right and then getting to work with them together to create their masterpiece that they can wear with pride. Traditions instill loyalty and create loving memories to carry throughout your life.
If you dread Halloween and can't stand the thought of having to make a costume, that is OK. There is nothing wrong with a store-bought costume. Sometimes the process of going together and picking out the perfect outfit is just as much a bonding moment as sewing one together can be.
But this article does not just apply to Halloween costumes. By working on a project together, any project, with your kids, spouse or even co-workers, it establishes bonds, helps you work through problems and challenges you to be creative. It can be making a meal together, working on a proposal for work, decorating a room or even planning a vacation. It is important to teach these skills to your kids and use them yourself in your adult life. I happen to know that at least once a year I will have an opportunity to create something special with my family and friends through our Halloween costumes, but I can use the skills I learn from this tradition throughout the whole year.