It was the 100th birthday of my kids’ school, and they were supposed to dress like “old people.” I am the most un-crafty person to walk the earth. In high school, when it was time to make spirit posters, I would be asked to run an errand, anything to keep me away from the posters and paint. But, I am committed to making sure my kids have fond memories of childhood. Two days before they were supposed to dress up, my oldest tells me that he wants to dress like the monopoly man. Sweet, I think, I just need a monocle, a black coat, a top hat and a moustache. And little brother can be the same. Two of everything. I got this. I run to the costume store, thinking, how easy could this be – one stop shop. Of course, it was not to be. I find the top hat, glasses, a plastic cane, and moustache, but no luck with the black coat. I’ve got another day, so I take it home and figure I’ll get the coat tomorrow. Well, that’s when all hell breaks loose.
Oldest son: “I want to be the GOLDEN monopoly man, not the regular monopoly man.”
Youngest son: “I want to be Santa Claus!!!!!”
Are you freaking kidding me? It’s six o’clock, I have to work all day tomorrow, and you both want costumes that are going to require ingenuity, time, money, and desperate calls to crafty friends to figure out what to do??? Alright, I tell myself, you take care of much more complicated situations at work all the time, don’t let a couple silly costumes get the better of you. Stores close at nine o’clock? You’ve got three hours, you can surely knock out one costume. Monopoly man is going to be easier. We’ll tackle Santa tomorrow night.
First stop, costume shop for a gold top hat. Done. Next stop, Dillards for a gold sports coat. That’s a thing, right? No, clearly it’s not. I buy a blue, seer-sucker sports coat instead. I’ll figure out how to make it gold later. Spray paint? Next stop, Michael’s craft store. Starting to panic, I text my friend who is the ultimate crafter. “What kind of paint can I use on plastic and fabric?” She asks some basic questions to determine exactly what I’m trying to do and then suggests fabric dye for the coat and gold duck-tape for the cane. Check and check, brillant. She even offers to wrap the cane in the duck-tape for me. Score. Thank you! The costume is a huge hit. We have some leftover silver hair-spray from a previous costume and boom, old man golden monopoly! We’ll tackle Santa Claus tomorrow. I mean, how do you find the makings of a Santa costume for a five-year-old in September?
The next day, I leave work a little early, pick up the younger kid, and take him to the costume store. We find a Santa beard, but nothing else. At my wit’s end, I head to the giant hobby shop. Surely people who craft are already working on Christmas crafts. Searching the aisles, clock ticking, I look at my five-year-old and think, he’s pretty small, we could probably patch together some stockings. Just some scissors and hot glue, we can do this. I start grabbing stockings, and he starts crying. “I want a REAL Santa costume!!!” he sobs. I try to explain that I can make a Santa costume out of the material in the stockings, but he is just not having it. As we wander the store, I patiently tell him that there isn’t such a thing as a tiny Santa costume that we can just buy off the shelf. That explanation goes about as well as anyone who has tried to reason with a five-year-old might expect. When all of a sudden, I look up, and what to wondering eyes did appear? A three-foot Santa Claus. I flag down a store employee and ask him to get the Santa down for me. I have to make the call on the spot – do I think I can take off Santa’s clothes intact? I pray to the craft gods, buy the Santa, and take him out in the parking lot where I strip him down to his plastic and cloth birthday suit. My son is super excited. I am still a little doubtful. When we get home, we try on the suit. The jacket, hat, glasses and belt fit great. But the pants are about six inches too short. My suggestion is to take off the white trim at the bottom of the pant leg, add some red material, and reattach the white trim. That probably sounds sensible to most adults, but clearly I am letting the five-year-old call the shots, and he does not want to take things in that direction. What do I do? I run to Target and buy some red sweatpants – thank goodness they have some, I am not usually this lucky. He wears the sweatpants, and we hot-glue the santa pants to the sweatpants about four inches below the waist. It looks ridiculous, but the kid is so happy. He sleeps in the costume, minus the glasses and beard which I miraculously am able to get him to take off for safekeeping. When we arrive at school the next morning, it becomes very clear to me why he HAD to be Santa, and why the costume HAD to be just right. His sweet little friend is dressed as Mrs. Clause.