The Haunted Credit Card
An ode to store-bought Halloween costumes.
With Halloween approaching in the middle of a financial crunch, parents must decide whether to take the frugal route, crafting homemade costumes, or to take the easy (but expensive) way out. In 2007, Emily Bazelon presented her defense of store-bought Halloween costumes. The article is reprinted below.
"Mama, I love my Halloween costume," my son Eli sighed to me this week as I kissed him good night. Could any childish words be sweeter, and, in my case, more wholly unexpected?
I am the least crafty person I know. I don't sew, I don't glue, and I have dreaded every diorama to ever come my way. None of this precludes making a good Halloween costume. But lack of imagination does, and when it comes to dressing up, mine never fails to fail me. So this year, I cut corners, I sold out, I caved in—pick your cliche. I shopped for costumes online with my kids gleefully at my side. I know, this is unworthy on more than one level: commercialized, expensive, an abandonment of upright and wholesome values, an accretion of more useless plastic objects, which I normally can't abide. But you know what? My kids and I are looking forward to trick or treating next week without a shred of anxiety.
My husband, Paul, was not happy with my executive Halloween decision. He remembers joyfully plowing through his family closets, wrapping himself in scarves and hats, and happily emerging as a "Russian Cossack." This easygoing, no-fuss approach to Halloween is one he thinks we should be able to create. He's right. But that was the '70s. And even then, my memories of Halloween consist of green felt Peter Pan hats and capes that fell apart and, most years, lots of wrong guesses from parents and friends about who I was trying to be. (Robin Hood, after Prince John's men tear his clothes to pieces? The Jolly Green Giant? A gawky elf?) So I thwarted Paul and typed Harry Potter Halloween Costume into Google.
Some crap came up, and so did some pricey outfits with all kinds of trimmings. But then my sons and I found a basic Gryffindor robe on sale for $25.95. Dressing up as Harry Potter, of course, is only a smidgen more interesting than going as Spider-Man (1.5 million last year) or a princess (4 million). But Eli and his younger brother, Simon, had a concept: Eli would be Harry and Simon would be Ron Weasley. "So then we're on the same side," Simon said, and Eli nodded. Sibling bonhomie—that makes up for low creativity points, doesn't it?
Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and writes about law, family, and kids. She is also the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School and a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. Her new book is Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Empathy and Character. Find her at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.