I spent the last five hours at my mom's house, sewing Haley's Halloween costume. She wanted to be a fairy---a beautiful fairy, not a babyish fairy (her words). She spotted the perfect costume in a Joann ad, and I couldn't say no (it really is pretty...I'll post pictures after Halloween). But, since my sewing machine has been at the Sears repair center for the last FOUR WEEKS, I finally just used my mom's. (Her machine is far nicer than mine, anyway!)
She made us dinner, and had a fresh batch of cookies in the cookie box. I sewed until I could sew no longer---or, I think, until my mom couldn't deal with my hesitant foot on the pedal. (I am not the world's best sewer.) Then she took over. It really took FAR longer than I had expected, but it was still a good night. Something I hope Haley will always remember about her grandma.
When we first walked into my mom's house, I noticed that she had pulled out a few old Halloween decorations---she's been too busy to do that for a few years. It's probably been fifteen years since I saw those Halloween decorations. Long enough that I couldn't remember which one I had painted, although I had an idea it was the witch. See, back when I was about Haley's age, my mom and my sisters and I had this ceramics thing going. There was a little ceramics shop only a few blocks away from our house, and once a week---I think it was Wednesdays---we'd be there, cleaning or painting or glazing ceramics. I had completely forgotten that part of my childhood. I picked the witch up, turned her over, and found my own name scrawled on the bottom, with the date (1983) next to it.
Wow. For a few seconds, I could nearly feel how it felt to be that version of myself---skinny and blond and athletic, but shy and a little lonely, with this unexpressed ache already starting to build up. The ache that pent-up creativity makes. I think I liked ceramics because it alleviated that ache a little bit. Holding the witch my eleven-year-old self made, her ghost standing next to me, I wished I could get back that unfettered innocence. I set her down carefully, next to the ghosts sitting on pumpkins that Suzette painted, and the big jack-o-lantern my mom had done, and while the innocence didn't come back---for the rest of the night, I truly felt like I was home. Comfortable and at rest in my skin.
It made me think about my own Halloween decorations. Mine are slapdash and random, with no apparent theme: a few cute witches, some Ty kitties, two Dreamsicle figurines I love. Nothing extravagant. But I wonder how much of my kids' holiday anticipation gets connected to the holiday decorations. I wonder if, in fifteen or twenty years, the sight of them will be enough to connect them to their own childhood selves? I hope so. I like to think that we leave little bits and pieces of ourselves, here and there, as we grow up, and sometimes we're lucky enough to find them.
And, you know---there's a little ceramics store a few miles from my house. And I think---I think come January, you'll be able to find Haley and me there, once or twice a month. Yep, I like that idea.