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Mummy Madness!

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Mummy Madness! 

By Anya Concoff

Halloween is a Sonoma County favorite. It's a joyfully sanctioned day for the entire community to go temporarily, blissfully bonkers, hopped up on Pixie Stix and Sugar Babies. It's a total deviation, a collective hallucination, a suspension of reality that allows a hipster to become a gangster, a gangster to become a hippy. It's the most wonderful time of the year! At least until the next most wonderful time of the year.

Those of you with kids, pugs or an entitled inner child, have been wallet deep in Halloween costume acquisition mode since late August. When Safeway on Main Street puts their LED stars and stripes on close out and replaces them with glowing eyed pumpkin candy dispensers and $14 paper Elsa trick-or-treat bags, it begins. (Incidentally the hot, single people haven't even thought about what they'll wear to their seven awesome Halloween parties and three all night shows. They're still putting together their costumes for Burning Man.)

The lamentable reality of the Halloween season, dreaded by parents of preteens and preschoolers alike is the Costume Shuffle. Round about July, as we sweep up spent sparklers and start to shop the Back to School sales, we hear, "I want to be a chameleon!" This is from my eight year old, with all the dedication of an Olympian talking about her best game. "A chameleon, like in Tangled?" I ask, testing the waters.

"No! I wanna be the real reptile and change my color depending on what I'm wearing. You can sew, right?" Need a skirt for the school play and I'm your girl, but clearly this is beyond my skill set, so I spend the evening fantasy shopping for the most intricate and expensive costumes this side of Broadway. I know better than to click "Ship." This is not my first rodeo. I put an ornate, glittering, gossimer lizard costume on my wishlist, and open a butter beer.

A few days later, I ask her about the chameleon costume and if she has any other ideas, considering her $200 ready-made costume choice doesn't even change colors. "Nope. I definitely want to be a chameleon." My little reptile has spoken.

I begin to amass the materials to piece something together that will thrill and delight. I spend $42 on shimmery fabric, $29 on Sharpies, glitter and craft foil. I'm about to work miracles. Four days later, I have gotten as far as unfolding the bolt and looking for the fabric scissors I have to padlock to keep my family from using to open clam shell packaging and stir spaghetti. We're in the dollar store, picking up sponges, when suddenly she sees the Halloween aisle.

"Mom, I want to be a ninja kitty for Halloween." We've entered phase two of the dreaded Costume Shuffle. "Are you sure?" I ask. "You know we've already started your chameleon costume." We also have two baskets and half a closet of dress up clothes – she could be a princess or a pegasus, a giraffe or a doctor. All these costumes I purchased on sale after Halloween or in second hand stores, thinking with self-satisfaction about how much money I'd save next October. Snort.

The ears and nunchucks are $2 together, so I relent and remind her to think long and hard about what she really wants to be. "I'm sure, I'm sure." My precocious little feline martial arts expert is convincingly earnest. I decide we'll dye our old Taekwondo uniform. I got this. I check my calendar. September 4th. Still way ahead of the game.

By the end of September, four visits to Spirit of Halloween, six hours at my sewing machine and nineteen thousand dollars on Amazon, my daughter has been Nemo, a princess, a refridgerator, a chameleon, a ninja cat and Hillary Clinton. My toddler has been a shipping carton, a roll of bubble wrap and a baby, styled by her older sister. We're covered for last minute costume changes! We're flying through phases four through sixteen of the Costume Shuffle.

By October 18th, we're eight pumpkin patches, two corn mazes, a harvest festival and a glass blown pumpkin show into the holiday season. We have eighteen plump gourds on our front stairs, none of which are carved. I trip on them, laden with bags from our latest trip to Disguise the Limit. My daughter greets me at the door with the best news! She and her eight friends all want to be Elsas together, but they've outgrown their dresses from the last three years. "You can sew, can't you, Mom?" I do what I should have done in late August. I tell her she must choose from the overflowing costume box, which is now strewn about the house in shimmery, black and pink heaps of her forgotten dreams and my misspent dollars.

On October 30th, inevitably a school night with forty seven afterschool programs to attend and a carnival at 4:30, my children are tearing the hosue apart looking for that one thing they have to have and cannot find. The new costumes have been played in and are already adorned with chocolate spatters and burrs from the garden. After three hours of yelling (her) and occasional crying (me), the kid goes to bed angry because I am unprepared for Halloween and forgot the fake blood.

Halloween morning, we spend an hour draping, painting and plaiting. She is going as an Elsa Chameleon Ninja and looks like she was playing dress up and got surprised by the school day. That afternoon we head to the store for candy (are we surprised that I ate the bags I bought on sale in September and full price in mid October and top dollar yesterday?). Most of her costume is crammed into the bottom of her backpack. She looks at me with sugar smeared cheeks and a toothy grin, still the smile of a jack o-lantern, with a missing pearly white here and there. "Mom, will you please help me put together a costume for trick or treating on Florence tonight? You can sew, right?" I throw a third bag of Milky Way into the cart and push on. Ahead of me in aisle 8, they are already discounting the orange and black Reeses. Staring up at me, taunting me, a neat row of chocolate Santas. I miss Halloween, already.