A week from now, the holiday season will be upon us. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and, finally, the coup de grace: New Year's Eve.
Note: Yeah, I know Boxing Day is technically a British holiday. In America we call it "Punching Day," or the day after Christmas when people express displeasure for not getting what they wanted.
Anyway, it's a lot to get through in the next 70 days. If we're lucky, everyone will have fun, nobody will get seriously hurt and it will all cost just slightly more than we can possibly afford.
It will go that way if we plan carefully. The holiday season is nothing to mess with. There are way too many abnormal family feelings involved.
For now, we'll dispense with the rest and focus on Halloween. It's just over a week away, which is nearly enough time for a kid to finalize his or her costume decision, and not enough time to actually make it. It is not a decision to be made lightly.
One of my granddaughters hasn't made up her mind between a scary witch, a zombie cheerleader or a rollerblading witch. In any case it will cost roughly $40 in cosmetics, two days of shopping and eventual therapy for her mother.
I don't know what happened to the costume-in-a-bag from my day. They sold them in grocery stores. You could go to the store with your parents for milk and come out dressed like Roy Rogers wearing a colorful trash bag upon which a drunk had painted a pair of chaps and a pistol.
These costumes were handy for parents. My old man loved them. All of the creativity and work was right there in the bag. Two bucks and I had my sullen choice of such popular characters as Superman, Casper, Mighty Mouse and Huckleberry Hound.
The bag contained one complete costume. First, a plastic face mask that severely restricted breathing and resembled your choice of character only to the extent that it had two eyeholes.
I was Superman one year. The mask was a meticulous replica of Walter Cronkite with cobalt hair. I was still better off than my friend Duncan, whose "Mighty Mouse" costume looked like a bloated ferret being strangled by a handkerchief.
The other item in the bag was a cheap tie-behind-the-neck jumpsuit upon which the character's identifying logos were emblazoned. It was either too large or too small.
Too small was the worst. Not only did you feel like you were being garroted, you spent Halloween night on tiptoes trying to dodge an aggresive polyethylene flossing of your bottom. Depending on how much candy you brought home, it was still worth it.
This was a long time ago, of course. I'm guessing these costume in a bag kits were deemed unsafe for the simple reason that they were about as flame retardant as jet fuel. Trying to see through the mask was like crossing a busy street wearing a colander.
My grandkids prefer their own originality rather than having an identity forced on them by a manufacturer. Said originality extends to "ninja" for boys and "princess" for girls.
Halloween is basically a holiday for the young and the young at heart. Consequently, I already know what I'm being Halloween night. Gone.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.