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I am a documented scaredy cat, but I still love Hallowe’en.


Me, circa 1974 after pulling icky, gicky, sticky stuff out of the pumpkin.

Not the vampires, blood and gore Hallowe’en that some prefer.

Rather, the pretending, dressing up, revert-to-childhood version that lets me carry on like I did when I was 11, when I spent weeks designing, building and painting my mailbox costume (complete with chute for candy).

Or, the year before, when I was a die:

dice costume

Me, wearing one of my many 0-degree celcius costumes

In Canada, all Hallowe’en costumes have to fit over a snowsuit.

None of those wispy fairy/princess/superhero costumes for us, no sireee.   The foolish (or newly immigrated from warm climates) among us might try for that kind of nonsense but they just end up shivering their way around the neighbourhood with frost coming out of their nostrils and goosebumps the size of the Rockies all over their fairy wings/tiaras/capes.

We are a hardy Hallowe’en bunch, us Canadians.

As an adult, each Hallowe’en season is just a big excuse for a whole lotta dancing.  I am Dancing Queen.  I am Boogie Nights.  I am Disco Fever.

Or, you know, something from this century.

Hallowe’en is an excuse to dream up a costume that lets me play for a few weeks in advance of the big event, plotting and planning, building and dreaming, all with a goal of creating something fun, flowy, and breezy to wear as I groove the night away with some serious tra-la-la.

Yes, I am 44.  No need to point that out.

I probably should have been a kindergarten teacher.  Lots of tra-la-la opportunities there.  Tra-la-la is practically a job requirement.

Not to mention, twirling.  Love the twirling.  Five year-olds don’t look at you strangely when you do it, either.  They just join in, like we should have been twirling all along.

I love that about them.

Due to my bookish nature, I have often gravitated for past Hallowe’ens to children’s literary characters including:

me aka Raggedy Ann

me aka Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann:  white skirt, top, apron, fun socks, wig, doilie.  Presto-bongo:  homemade costume!


I’m off to see the wizard…and Practical Man who has kindly changed out that ugly floor.

Dorothy:  white skirt, blouse, apron, pigtails, ruby slippers.  Presto-bongo:  homemade costume!

Pippi Longstocking

Hair was very fun with coat hangers in it but slightly dangerous to other dancers

Pippi:  white skirt, white top, pinafore, red wig, pigtail with coathangers, fun shoes.  Presto-bongo:  homemade costume!

You may be noticing a theme here.

Even though my costumes no longer have to fit over a snowsuit, I’ve never been a woman who does that whole sexy nurse/fairy/butterfly/witch/pirate wench thing that many women do.    I don’t feel any such inclinations to harness my inner hottie, but rather, my inner 4-year-old.   With a side dish of twirling and dancing with gleeful abandon.

Then, there’s the chocolate, of course.  Yummy.

This year, I got slightly more ambitious in the costume department.

There was architecture involved.

First, I got a top hat.

Practical Man generously donated several pounds of bubble wrap he had stored away for practical occasions such as this.

start of jellyfish costume

We recycled the corrugated presentation board from a Career Jeopardy game we had made for my work back in 1999, and cut it out in the shape of a doughnut.

But this isn’t a doughnut costume (although I’m sure if I could have managed to convert a white skirt and an apron into a doughnut, I would have tried).

I built up the presentation-board-formerly-known-as-Career-Jeopardy-game with tons and tons of the bubble wrap and packing tape.  I stuck a lot of packing tape to my other fingers, the floor and my hair along the way.  I may have cut my finger slightly with the scissors.

next step of jellyfish

It’s beginning to look a lot like Hallowe’en!

All is fair in Hallowe’en costume creation.

I cut clear plastic garbage bags into strips and strips and strips (mostly wiggly, because I hate measuring and plus, it’s more realistic, and have you already forgotten that I hate measuring?)

I cut ribbons and iridescent tulle.


Oooooh groovy!

Practical Man cut long strips from an old pool solar cover (he measured, of course.  His strips are very straight.)  He also strung some foam balls on fishing line (also measured precisely for varying lengths and distances).

bottom view

Here’s the bottom view, in case you need more detail

Then, work began on the accessorizing.

First, the finger and toenails became party blue:

blue fingernails

No, those blue fingers aren’t because I have zombie low blood pressure, thanks for asking

We still have 80 feet of solar blanket left from the pool, so I fashioned a little clutch.

It’s important that my costume have a place to put my lipstick.

clutch purse

I think I can make 347 more of these out of the remainder of the solar cover

Ta da!   I think it’s practically like Dolce and Gabbana, don’t you think?

Then, I donned a white long-sleeved t-shirt, white skirt (we’re back to my usual antics) and an iridescent blue skirt that was in my Tickle Trunk.  I pulled it up to my chest so it covered more of my body.

It looked swishy and sparkly.  Perfect for twirling, if I do say so myself.

My friend Pippi (not her real name) thought I was…

An octopus.

I have forgiven her because by the time she was beholding my magnificence, she had already consumed half a bottle of white wine so it was hard for her to remember the correct word for my epic costume:


Here I am!

JELLYFISH, of course!

Rockin’ the jelly.

I’m a fresh water, Lake Ontario jellyfish.   Hee hee.

Glow sticks from the local dollar store added just before dance time made it glowwwwwww.

glowing in the dark

glug, glug, glug

Next time, I’ll use more, but still….



I love Hallowe’en.


When we moved to our current house, I was very excited because of the magic drawer.

You know, the magic drawer that you put dishes in and then swish, swish, swish, swish, they magically come out clean.

Of course, Practical Man has been known to remove dishes from the magic drawer to wash them in the sink.   It bewilders me and I would never do it because I believe it is an insult to the magic drawer whose mere existence is…magical, in my opinion.

Anyway, I have loved the magic drawer from the first moment we met.  And, not just because there had been many times in my early 20s, when I hid dirty dishes in the oven when my mother came to visit.  The magic drawer sort of mesmerizes me (I am easily entertained) but my fascination has its roots in vintage times, when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s.

Me, drying dishes at age 6

Me, drying dishes (age 6). Do 6 year olds dry dishes anymore?

There was no magic drawer in our house.  Not until I had left home.  Behold the evidence.  (p.s. my mother would like you to know that she, like Julia Child, no longer has pegboard in her kitchen.)   Helping with the dishes and other parentally-inflicted hardships (like the lone, 13′” black-and-white TV we had until I left for university) allows my sister and I to tease our parents and feel smug about our “deprived” childhoods.  Some parents cry when their children move out.  Mine went on a shopping spree and bought all the modern conveniences we had been begging for over the years.

Anyway, no magic drawer.  Deprived childhood.  Years and years of doing dishes.  Boo, hoo, hoo.  You get the gist.   All perfect material for a modern-day family dinner party.

However, we did have dishwashing music.

The deal in our house was that my mom cooked the supper and my sister, dad and I did the cleaning up.  Far from mere drudgery of dirty pots and table crumbs, the “cleaning up” was my favourite part of any meal (especially if that meal had involved ratatouille or meatloaf–bleech).  The dishwashing collection was our dad’s pile of 45 records, some old, some new.  The only criteria for making it into the collection was that it had to have what he termed:  “a good beat”.

45 records

Some of the REAL dishwashing collection!

All the better for us to engage in our tra-la-la (I think that’s where it started for me), doo wap and bee bop.

We were like the Ellen Degeneres show except with tea towels.

It was a festive affair, the cleaning up.  It often took us hours what with the trading of DJ duties, careful selection of music, enthusiastic dancing (and dripping of water on the floor) and of course the…

A wimoweh, a wimoweh, a wimoweh…

A wah, wah, wah, wah, wonder…

One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, rock…

Wah ha ha ha ha haaaaah…

one 45 record

It was not a magic drawer, but it was magic.  Around 8:00, our mom would appear from the basement (where she had no doubt been squinting at the tiny black and white television) and gasp, “Aren’t you done YET?!”

One more song.  Just one more song.

The dishes were done ages ago.   The tra-la-la, doo wap and bee bop of dishwashing music lasts forever.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet