I I I I I I I  

Halloween is my Waterloo. Despite all of my efforts to be a good momóthe kind of mom who always has some kind of wholesome cookie in the oven as well as my own series of exercises designed to teach the Diva a foreign language and a completely stocked arts and crafts center Ė my chronic unpreparedness always craps up my Cleaver-ish intentions; Halloween always the holiday that throws my shortcomings into sharp relief.

Itís not that I donít like the trappings of Halloween. I do, for the most part. I mean, candy is always a fun time. Spooky stories rock as well. Plus, the tiny town in which we live has a wee parade each year and itís heartwarming to see all of the townís kids dressed up, waving to the neighbors lining Main Street and meeting up for post-parade cider and donuts.  All of that is wonderful -- especially when you add a crisp chill and vibrant leaves.

But the sheer number of accessories that Halloween requires trips me up every damn year. Problem one is relatively minor: I donít enjoy carving pumpkins. I find it tedious, frankly, and more trouble than itís worth. (For the record, I also hold similar feelings about ironing.) Iíll do it, but only if Iím badgered. The other decorations are beyond me, too. The neighbors deck their places in fine style, with orange and black crepe paper swags, skeletons, eerie lighting and fibery cobwebs. At my place, we only have the cobwebs, which came free with the house and hang year round. *I* scream when I see them, at least.

I do try to be good at this stuff. Really. This year, I made a point of thinking about fall accouterments, yet all I managed was putting two tiny pumpkins on top of the TV. At Camp Cupcake, Martha Stewart feels my failure and is weeping. In my deepest, darkest mommy heart, I donít want the Diva to feel like sheís been deprived of good decorating fun because she canít walk in the door and immediately know which holiday is upon us. Sheís going to have enough to talk about in therapy without adding my failure as a theme decorator to the list. Still, I donít hold out much hope for improvement by Christmas.

On a side note: I do a mean Thanks- giving. Granted, I canít manage one stinking cardboard pilgrim, but I cook a mean bird with an equally fierce cornbread stuffing. If every holiday was simply about cooking, one of my favorite activities and second on my list only to eating, Iíd win Mom of the Year.

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The moms who can pull of all of the holiday hoopla have my admiration. Some moms I know have big bins full (and, amazingly, labeled) of seasonal chatchkes, which never fail to appear when the time is right. Said decorations always seem to get put away on time, too. Itís not a Stepford behavior borne from striving to be magazine perfect, which is what Iíd turn it into if I could ever get my act together. Rather, these moms thrive on creating warm and inviting homes that are reflections of their warm, inviting personalities. Somehow, these moms enjoy it. The decorating is a pleasure. Yeah, I donít get it either. These are the same moms who always seem to be prepared. In restaurants, when I am trying to amuse my kid with whatever I can find on the table, stacking sugar packets and salt shakers while trying to not make too much of a mess, these are the moms who walk in with a purse full of constructive activities, like coloring books and stickers. I donít even carry a purse, much less one that contains anything useful. Iím frequently caught without so much as a tissue when I take the Diva out. Right now, her diaper bag contains only diapers and wipes. No toys. No food. No puppets or socks or changes of clothes or books or lotions or flash cards.

Itís not like I donít ever need these things. I am ashamed to admit that I frequently depend on the kindness of strangers. Older women always seem to have a tissue to spare and, if they donít, itís not hard to score a wad of TP from a public bathroom. Snacks are easy to come by during our normal perambulations. If a change of clothes is required, the situation is frequently dire enough to require a trip home anyway. Iím not proud of this mooching. I donít have some deep-seated need to travel lightly or to test my inner MacGuyver and craft a sippy cup out of a coffee mug and some gum. I honestly just canít seem to think about what anyone might need in advance.

This past Halloween finally made me give up any pretensions that I might have with regard to being the type of mom who always celebrates the seasons and has a pocket full of wet-naps. The Diva, the Spouse and I went over to the house of some warm and inviting friends, the kind who have real decorations up. There were a bunch of families there and five kids. Four of them had costumes on. One didnít. Iíll let you connect the dots on which kid that might have been. There were all sorts of treats, like monster brains and eyeball hors d'oeuvres. We had no real plans to actually trick or treat with the Diva this year. She did have a proper costume, a fuzzy bumblebee suit that was a gift from her far more together grandma. Our real plan was to put her in it and head down to the parade. But, instead, we were swept up in the momentum of the five other youngíuns who were old enough to know that Halloween was for trick-or-treating.  Their excitement wore off on us all. By the time all were heading out the door with the pirate, the guinea pig, the witch and dancing mouse, the Diva had painted her face with some of the make-up scattered about. That was it, costume-wise. Just some colorful cheeks, an everyday dress, tights and a coat. We had to borrow a treat sack from a more prepared mom.

I wanted to explain to everyone who passed by... ďSee,Ē I wanted to tell them. ďShe does have a costume at home. Itís a bee suit. Itís cute. But I just wasnít prepared. I suck at this.Ē I said nothing, though, as we walked through the neighborhood admiring
jack-o-lanterns and begging for candy from strangers.

About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott.


I I I I I I I  

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