There has been an inordinate amount of concern about Halloween around our residence this year.
It's not that I'm all that revved up about Oct. 31, understand. I'm not much for spending a lot of time observing special days, unless they involve a day off from work or special foods to be consumed, and Halloween involves neither, unless you count little Hershey bars and tiny bags of Skittles as special foods. Then there's that whole costume thing, which I can easily forgo. However, this attitude has not been passed on to my two children, who, it appears, are pretty big on Halloween and dressing their kids in costumes.
Now, since our grandchildren live an average of 1,500 miles from Powell, you might think this costuming thing wouldn't affect us back here in darkest Wyoming, far from the beaches of Florida or the Minnesota prairie. But that's not the way their grandma (who doubles as my wife) sees things. She takes her grandma duties pretty seriously, leading her last year to volunteer to make costumes. Naturally, this started a tradition, so she is now in the midst of making this year's costumes suitable for 3-year-old girls and year-old boys.
Now it happens that Karen is a 4-H veteran whose mom taught sewing, and she is a pretty good seamstress. In the past, she has produced dress shirts and some exceptionally wild ties for me that look as good as the ones at J.C. Penney. Once she even made a sport coat that would have looked store-bought except for the outrageous color and pattern of the material I insisted on — it was the '70s, so you can probably imagine how wild it was. It now belongs to the Greybull High School drama department, although it's so loud that it may have caused other costumes to fade, and may even have melted the hangar it was hanging on, either of which may have led to its being buried somewhere, despite the good workmanship.
Given her background and skill, then, you might expect that turning out four costumes would be a snap for my wife. Well, it isn't.
For starters, we have a couple of granddaughters with quite different interests. In Minnesota, we have a princess; in Florida, we have a budding ornithologist. The first wants to be Belle, of “Beauty and the Beast” fame; the other wants to be an owl.
Now the Belle wanna-be was also a princess last year, so Grandma already had the pattern and princess-making dress experience, but an owl?
Her last year's costume pattern, a tiger, just couldn't be converted to an owl, even though both species are predators. Fortunately, Google came to the rescue, and Grandma discovered not one, but two patterns for the production of an owl costume.
That leaves the two little brothers, who don't know Halloween from Hanukkah and probably don't give a hoot about whether they are dressed as owls or knights.
Big sisters being big sisters, though, the two girls have definite ideas for their brothers. The big owl, it seems, is to be accompanied by little owl, and what's a princess without a knight in shining armor. So now a third pattern is required to make faux armor, and both it and the owl patterns have to be sized down considerably. This sizing problem is complicated by distance, since neither kid is available for direct measurement, and a costume in progress can't be compared to an actual body to check size as you go.
Consequently, as you might imagine, there has been a lot of cutting, sewing, ripping and re-sewing going on around home, not to mention emails requesting more measurements.
Happily, the process is almost complete. As I write this, the big owl costume is in Florida to see if it fits. It apparently does and has been pronounced wonderful by the granddaughter and her mom. From all accounts, little brother is envious and can't wait for his to arrive. Belle is nearly done, and the forging of the shining armor is well underway. Both should be on their way to Minnesota this week.
That leaves the little owl, and that will take a little time, due to the need for all those feathers, but Grandma is confident it will be done on time, so confident, in fact, that she has taken a day off to ready the house for some visitors expected Tuesday night.
The experience, though, has Grandma declaring that next year, she will just send money and direct our progeny to find the nearest big box store for costuming.
I don't believe it, though. I'm betting she'll take on the task again next Halloween, come what may.
She will, after all, still be a grandma.