My Halloween Miracle
My very limited sewing skills usually make me a big fan of Halloween costumes. I get excited by starting projects and Halloween is perfect for someone whose abilities are limited to stitching a straight seam. No one minds if a Halloween costume isn’t hemmed or lined. I usually like pretending, as I pull out the fabric and thread, that I know what I’m doing. And then after a couple times of piecing backwards or forgetting to fold the fabric correctly, I pull out the glue gun and we’re done. My kids are happy with the costumes; I enjoy a few hours of creative activity.
This year was different. Halloween loomed over me and the idea of sewing costumes felt overwhelming. Maybe it’s because Halloween represents the time of fading light where I live, an increase in the hours of darkness that makes me feel a little tired and hopeless. Maybe it’s because we still haven’t completely found our sea legs after adding a third child to our family last year and just keeping everyone alive feels like a full day’s work. Maybe I just need more Diet Coke in my life. Whatever the reason, it went beyond a lack of motivation. Facing Halloween felt impossible. At one point I managed to make a list of what I needed and drove to the fabric store, but I made a U-turn just before the parking lot and went back home. I just couldn’t do it.
A friend of mine let me off the hook and told me where to go buy costumes. Child #3 already had a costume: a hand-me-down from his father’s days as a German yodeling toddler. Check. I took my older son and daughter to the store, feeling relieved that we could just get this done in an hour on a Saturday morning and I could get out from under the burden of Halloween. My son found something almost instantly—a Robin costume, perfect for a boy whose brain currently resides in the world of superheroes. Check. My daughter was harder. She desperately wanted a purple princess dress, and while it wasn’t my first choice for her costume, I was just content that she’s happy to have little girl daydreams for a bit longer. Finding an appropriate dress, however, proved impossible. This year she turned seven, which apparently bumps her up from the little girl clothes to the pre-teens. The only princess-ish dresses we could find were clearly meant to be sexy, not innocently imaginative. We finally found one that seemed okay but when we pulled it out of its packaging, a cloud of glitter enveloped us. It didn’t seem made for play, as there was no way she could wear that thing inside our house without leaving streams of glitter behind. She went home empty-handed.
I vented my frustrations on Facebook and within minutes, three of my Exponent sisters—Pandora, Libby, and Kirsten—had offered to make my daughter a costume and ship it to me. I felt so grateful that my friends had my back, but I turned them down. I couldn’t accept such a generous offer with just two weeks left until Halloween. I could do it myself. I would figure something out. My daughter could settle for something else. It’s just Halloween.
That night I had a dream. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when I do, they’re usually significant. My sister-in-law once startled me by calling them visions, but I’ve come to think of them in that language. Some of the most important decisions of my life have been prompted by these dreams that burn away the chaff of unnecessary confusion or angst and make clear the direction I should take. I dreamed that night of my childhood princess dress. My best friend had given it to me and it was a pink, shoulder-ruffled, lace-and-ribbon affair. I was a child deeply committed to dresses and princesses and that dress was perfection incarnate for me. I made myself an emerald scepter and dressed up as Ozma of Oz that year for Halloween. I wore the dress almost daily for years, until the bodice pinched my armpits and the fabric was threadbare. I awoke from my dream remembering so clearly how important a dress can be for an imaginative child. And when I checked my phone that morning, I found multiple private messages from my friends, reiterating their offers and reassuring me that it was okay to accept help.
I cried. I cried because God cared about something as small as a dress and greater wisdom than I possessed had won the day. I cried because my daughter is growing up but she gets to be a little child for a bit longer. I cried because this past year in a new state has been lonely and at that moment I felt waves of love crash over me. I cried because, while the two great commandments are to love God and love others, the two greatest blessings are the love of God and love of others. In that moment, I felt both. And while I laugh at myself for seeing divine help in something as small as a Halloween costume, I also can’t deny the goodness and grace that I felt.
My Exponent sisters, you are my tribe. You have saved me in many ways and times. Thank you.
On Halloween, I had three happy kids and, miraculously, three costumes (plus a husband in a Ziggy Stardust outfit). One of the costumes was a 35-year-old hand-me-down, one was a pre-fab 100% polyester jumpsuit, and one was a custom-created dress hand-made with love. All three of them were perfect.