Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Little Spirits

I grew up in a home that did not celebrate Halloween. I did, once, when about ten years old, attend a Halloween party. I dressed as a gypsy in a swirly pink dress, sheer shawl and lots of bangle bracelets and jewelry. But that was it, besides the occasion when my brother and I draped ourselves in dark sheets and blankets and crept outside the house, to knock on the front door in hopes of getting some of the candy my parents inevitably bought for potential trick-or-treaters.

David, on the other hand, always celebrated Halloween. When we had children, we didn't really plan on what to do. The last five years we have done nothing. Which was fine with me. This year, though, we thought we'd try trick or treating and dressing up in costumes. If Halloween is a day set aside to honor the dead, why not choose a great person who has left a great legacy to honor? Sure, there are some horrid things people do to celebrate this day. . .but no worse than what some people do to celebrate the holidays of Christmas or Easter.

We decided to portray characters from a great book we all have enjoyed, written by a great man. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens seemed a perfect choice and a great way to kick off the coming holiday season. With a few days to throw some costumes together, I scanned the book for ideas. In the end, we dressed as (of course) Ebenezer Scrooge, Ebenezer Scrooge's one-time fiancee, and the Ghosts of Christmas.

First off, here is our Ebenezer. David wore his flannel nightshirt and wool nightcap and carried around a brass candlestick and beeswax candle. Scrooge likely would not have had a nice candle like this - knowing him, he'd have gone for Cheap - but it gave a nice appearance.

"It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing gown and nightcap. . ."

Wanting an excuse to wear my regency attire (which I rarely get a chance to wear these days) I dressed as the woman whom the young Scrooge was engaged to marry. Those who are familiar with the story will remember that this young lady released Scrooge from their engagement once she realized what the love of money was doing to him.

According to the book, she was a "fair young girl in a mourning dress: in whose eyes there were tears. . ." Since in the Victorian era purple/lavender were considered mourning colors (though I do not know if this holds true for earlier years) I wore my lavedear and gray striped regency gown. I added the circlet of flowers and the sash for a more festive look.

Now, we have our Ghost of Christmas Past. This was Malachi, who wore Judah's white linen tunic, trimmed with yellow roses and with a red taffeta sash with the ends trimmed with gold tassels.

"It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh holly in its hand; and, in singular contrast of that wintery emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers."

Next is the Ghost of Christmas Present. This outfit was the really the only one requiring much effort since I didn't have anything else that could be used. David got the position for the reason his hair is the darkest of the three children and the Ghost of Christmas Present is described as having "dark curls".

"It was clothed in one simple, deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. . .and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreathe, set here and there with shining icicles. . . .girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it." Having to use what was in my stash, I chose a dark green/blue brocade. I made a simple T-tunic garment and trimmed the sleeves and neck with fake white fur cut down from an old Christmas stocking. The wreathe was some wire bent to shape and covered with wound bias tape; I attached a holly flower and some white clear beaded fringe as icicles. He wore a leather belt and an empty knife sheath as his scabbard.

Last is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, which was portrayed by Judah. I also had to make this costume but it was very easy - a big rectangle with rounded corners with a hole cut in the middle for his head. I used a dark gray sheet, and the pillow case that matched was used for a hood, which I sewed into the head opening.

"It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form and left nothing of it visible, save one outstretched hand."

We went trick-or-treating up and down one dead end street in town last night. This evening we took them to a mall where we walked to the different stores. David carried his candle-stick and smiled and greeted passersby with a heartfelt "Merry Christmas!" :P

Suprisingly, many people knew who we were portraying. Last night we even found out that news of our portrayals had preceded us in the neighborhood we visited! The boys got too much candy but with it rationed out to a few pieces per day, it will last a very long time.



  1. Dear Sarah:
    What an inspired family you were...and all dressed perfectly in character! I'm sure you brought lots of smiles to the faces of those fortunate enough to see you.

    Also, I read your previous post and LOVE your new henna color. It looks adorable on you, and is just great with your skin tone. I have a son with red hair and likewise a 3 year old granddaughter with hair to match her daddy's, so you know I'm partial to the color!

    I hope you have a creative and blessed week. See you again soon.

  2. Your costumes are wonderful! I love that people recognized all of you, too.

  3. My goodness, what an excellent way to celebrate Halloween! I grew up celebrating it, but alas, it's forbidden in our home. If I could, though, I would do something like this -- special, not spooky. :)

    You all look lovely!


  4. This is my favorite family-costumes theme ever! You all look wonderful, and your 'new' hair looks so nice with your lovely blue eyes!

  5. I love your costumes! It's such a nise story, and it's always fun when a group of people dress to the same theme.

  6. What an awesome idea, and you all look fabulous!

  7. Oh Sarah! This was such a good idea for costumes :) You all look great! (I love the colour your hair is settling into, also!) I'm glad people recognised and enjoyed your personas :-)

  8. Perfect! Did the boys enjoy the adventure?

  9. What a great first Halloween for you. The costumes are really great! We once dressed up as a family as characters from Peter Pan, but few people could identify us. Usually they said "A pirate, Robin Hood, and who are the rest of you?"

    According to the Catholic liturgical calendar, Nov 1st is All Saints (or All Hallows, so this would be Hallows Eve) Day, for remembering all those Christians who have gone ahead of us to heaven. Nov 2nd is All Soul's Day, where we remember the dead. Catholics, like Jews, do pray for the dead.

  10. I love homemade costumes! They are so much more original than store bought. You guys all look great!

  11. Oh, my! How creative! What a wonderful idea. Homemade costumes are the best!

  12. Glad to see took your little ones out on Halloween. While I can understand the reasoning behind not celebrating the holiday, it is hard to pass up any opportunity we as costume enthusiasts have to don our apparel and go out for the evening!

  13. WOW!
    I bet your sweet family was such a wonderful sight to see! Your idea was fantastic!
    Your hair is beautiful by the way, I love it.

  14. Adorable! I love the idea of a family theme -- you're all charming :)

  15. I know this is a few years old now, but I just have to comment and say that your boys are just *adorable* in these costumes. You did such a fantastic job dressing as a family :)

    (Might I add that the "death and skeletons" aspect of Halloween is largely gimmicky marketing nonsense. True, it's close to All Saint's Day, but it originally stems from Samhain (pronounced like sow-in), which is an old Celtic harvest festival day to celebrate the turn of the season and a bountiful harvest!)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!