95 Reese's

A couple years after the elephant 
incident, Queen Esther surveys the 
costume competition.
When I was a kid I welcomed any opportunity to dress up in a costume and pretend to be something or someone else. However, my family didn't participate in Halloween, so this cultural ritual that rolled around every October 31 was one I always peered at from a distance with not a little curiosity. While the rest of the world draped itself in cobwebs and enjoyed ghoulish Halloween revelry, we either:

  1. passed out candy bars wrapped in religious tracts; 
  2. turned off all the lights and pretended we weren't home for trick-or-treaters; or, most frequently, 
  3. actually weren't home because we were at the church Reformation Day party. This was our little church's effort to reclaim the evening from under-worldly gore and instead provide us with more edifying activities commemorating Martin Luther's face-off with the Roman Catholic church.

The Reformation Day party costume guidelines authorized dressing up as either someone from the Bible or someone from church history. But when I was four, I didn't know enough about the Bible or church history to feel inspired by either of those options. I was really only devout about one thing: my love for elephants. All I wanted was to go to the party dressed as an elephant. Normally I was not a child prone to coloring outside the lines, but this chance of costume glory mattered too much to play it safe.

I got away with my plan by explaining that I would be one of the elephants from Noah’s Ark. No danger of being dismissed as some heathen Halloween zoo animal that way! My mom obligingly made me an elephant costume. She cut two big elephant ears out of cardboard spray-painted grey and somehow attached them to a grey plastic headband. I made a trunk out of a paper towel tube and string, wore a grey sweatsuit, and accessorized my look with a bag of peanuts. I thought the peanuts were a particularly clever touch. No one else seemed impressed, but you know, life always is rather lonely for those touched by genius.

I strutted proudly around the church basement fellowship hall, waiting for people to comment on my brilliance and originality -- until my delusions of greatness were shattered by the arrival of one of the “big kids” (probably 12 years old) dressed as the Wittenberg Castle Church Gate, complete with 95 theses. That got a hearty Reformed guffaw out of all the grownups, and there was no way now that a grey elephant was going to top that. I sat down and munched on my unimpressive peanuts. At least my costume came with snacks!


Popular Posts