Halloween is upon us again. When Olivia (our oldest) was born, in a moment of righteous determination, I decided that I was always going to hand-make her Halloween costumes. I hated how Halloween things were popping up in stores by late August. I hated how hard it was to find the costume of whatever I wanted her to be. But mostly I felt virtuous bucking the system and not buying into the multimillion dollar industry that is Halloween goods. Plus, I have always subscribed to the idea that handmade shows more love than store bought. So I wanted to show my kids that I loved them by making their Halloween costumes.
Our track record is a hula girl, a puppy, a lawn gnome, and last year I got lucky and my friend made Olivia’s Angry Bird costume (God bless her). This year, Olivia is going to be Captain Hook, Lina is going to be Tinker Bell, and Teresa is going to be Peter Pan. Well, at least that is what they want to be. I have not brought myself to make the darn costumes. Halloween’s tomorrow and I have not even looked at the fabric I bought a month ago.
I am reading a book right now that reminded me how much effort we can sometimes put into doing things that we think we should be doing. Sometimes we pretend something is fun because we think we should be having fun. I immediately thought about making Halloween costumes. I really want to like making these every year. I’m crafty and am pretty decent at sewing, so it only makes sense that I would find a lot of joy in making my kids’ costumes.
I don’t. I hate it. When I walk through Target and look at all the cute $5 baby costumes I hate myself because I have to go home and make a stupid Peter Pan costume.
For some reason, when I read about this woman who was taking a whole month to explore what she actually enjoyed doing, I thought it was brilliant. She was going to stop pretending that she enjoyed things that she actually hated. How liberating. To actually spend time having real fun instead of having this-should-be-fun fun.
Sometimes I think it is really hard to decipher what I actually enjoy doing and what I think I should enjoy doing. I live in Austin, the live music capital of the world; I should love live music. I don’t. I have fun at concerts for about 30 minutes, then I wish I was at home listening to the same music on a CD in my living room. My grandma is La Lupe; I should love cooking Mexican food. Wrong. When I cook Mexican food, it never tastes like La Lupe’s so I don’t usually make it. I’m a theology major; I should spend my evening hours poring over Hans Urs von Balthasar. I don’t. He’s too dense for me.
God wants us to know ourselves. And while figuring out fun seems somewhat trivial in our quest to understanding God more deeply, I think it is actually a crucial step. A step that could lead to a lot more joy in our lives and the lives of others.
This year, I’m not worried about handmade Halloween costumes. I’m headed to Target today.