Having grown up in post-WW II France, my mother thought Halloween was a crazy American ritual, believing trick or treaters were extortionist begging for candy. Still she participated in the holiday with gusto, decorating pumpkins and dressing up us kids.
By the time I was in grade school, my mother helped me create Halloween costumes that reflected my interests. I was passionate about all things Native American, so she hand-sewed a Pocahontas-style dress that I decorated with glued-on beads. In junior high, I fell in love with ancient Egypt, so we put together a Cleopatra costume, complete with bed sheet toga, funky jewelry, and an old wig of hers that she dyed black and cut into Elizabeth Taylor-style bangs.
However, I stopped participating in Halloween once I entered high school. What was the point? Since I was in my punk rock/new romantic phase, I was always dressing up, whether it was spiky hairdos or full Adam Ant war paint. Later on, when I got into the rockabilly scene, I wore vintage '40s and '50s clothing daily, and hunted for the best outfits on eBay and in antique shops.
By the time Nathan was born, I had put away my vintage duds since most of them didn't fit and couldn't take the constant cleaning. So I was looking forward to putting aside my boring-but-functional mommy clothes and dressing up again. For his first Halloween, we donned Star Trek outfits, Nathan a convincing mini-Captain Picard and me as his first mate.
When Nathan was two, he loved watching Iron Chef, the Japanese cooking show on Food Network. Months before Halloween I searched all over for a child-sized chef's jacket and hat to transform him into Iron Chef America. I found a child's chef jacket on eBay and a small chef's hat at a local toy store, and decorated both with U.S. flag patches and ribbons. Since I was posing as Nathan's sous chef, I wore matching gear.
Now I find myself planning costumes months or even years in advance. Last year Nathan dressed up in a charming '50s cowboy outfit I bought when I was pregnant with him. This year he's going to be a cowboy again, this time in leather chaps and matching vest purchased a couple of years ago. Lucie is going to be Minnie Mouse in a dress I got last spring at a consignment shop.
But this year, I'm not dressing up. Now that my kids are not puking up on me regularly, I've put aside my mommy clothes and have gone back to wearing my rockabilly gear. Once again, for me, every day is Halloween, whether I have on a vintage Hawaiian shirt or I'm searching the thrift store racks for next year's perfect costume.