Once upon a time, a petite, sloe-eyed little girl whose primary gift is the ability to melt adult hearts upon contact and whose nickname is “Princess” determined to take on her school district’s move from Halloween Party to Harvest Festival.
Like every child above the age of five, she emails and texts regularly. In the process of chatting with her cousins, she discovered each of them attends a school where Halloween parties are allowed. In their emails, her cousins told delicious stories of pre-Halloween activities: pumpkin carving, bat origami, spider-web draping and skeleton-making. All of this, of course, is simply a precursor to The School Party, a celebration of a day that on the Scale of Childhood Preferences may be second only to Christmas or Hanukkah.
For the Sloe-Eyed Princess’ cousins, there will be sugary cupcakes and candy, “Cauldron Punch”, “Grave Robber Gumdrops” and “Casket Cake”. One cousin is to narrate a class performance of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. Another is writing a poem that, while still under wraps, seems to involve a few body parts and a Brave Prince.
Best of all, each of the Little Sloe-Eyed Princess’ cousins will be given the freedom to dress in traditional Halloween costumes. At last year’s parties there were pirates, bed-sheeted ghosts and baby dolls, a Tinkerbell and a chain-gang prisoner. (The prisoner has parents who tend to watch a lot of early films. A lot.) There was the obligatory skeleton, a couple of vampires and an improvised ghoul. Everyone had fun, no one seemed to be traumatized, and everyone agreed the teacher dressed as a punk-rocker deserved her prize.
Reading her cousins’ emails, the Little Sloe-Eyed Princess became distraught. At her school, there would be no Halloween Party. Instead, a Harvest Festival had been declared. There would be uncarved pumpkins, corn shocks, apple bobbing and nature walks. Treats would include carrot sticks, granola bars and fruit juice. There would be no candy, no cupcakes, no spooky decorations or scary story-telling.
Most distressing of all, while the children are welcome to come in costume at the Little Sloe-Eyed Princess’ school, their costumes must represent a character from a favorite story-book. They aren’t allowed to come as “scary” characters, i.e., vampires, mass murderers, witches, ghouls, politicians or Lady Gaga in her meat dress. Once she understood the rules of the game, the little Princess began to ponder. Eventually, she drifted into the kitchen, plopped up onto a stool and said to her mother, “Snow White”. “Hummmm…?”, her mother said. “Snow White. I’m going to the school party as the Evil Queen in Snow White.”
“I don’t think you can do that,” her mother said. “You’re not supposed to dress as a scary character, and that Queen’s pretty scary.” “Yeh,” said the Princess. “She is scary. But they won’t let me come as a witch, so she’s as close as I can get. Besides, they said we could come as our favorite storybook character, and that’s one of my favorite stories.” At that point, her mother stopped and looked at her. “When did you turn twenty?” she asked. “Huh?” said the Princess.
With a little help from a slightly astonished maternal co-conspirator, the costume was constructed and the little Sloe-Eyed Princess will appear at her school’s Harvest Festival as a truly grotesque and scary-looking Evil Queen.
As her mother has pointed out to everyone within earshot, the scariest aspect of the entire experience is that her daughter already has figured out the concept “letter of the law”, and seems to have developed a spine that would put any Halloween skeleton to shame.
I’m eager for the post-party report. With luck, they’ll all live happily ever after.