Monday, November 1, 2010

A Halloween Miracle, by Peggy Knorr

On receiving photos of my two out-of-state great-grand children, Logan and Kailey, in their Halloween costumes and hearing they would be wearing their finery in the school parade, I wondered if that event would be conducted in the same manner as it was in my daughter's (their Grandma's) childhood days, 56 years earlier. At that far off time, while the kids were excitedly hopping around showing off their fanciful apparel, the teachers were standing by, busily judging which costume was the "best."

Patsy, my daughter, was about 8 years old at the time, and we were living in East Los Angeles, (a very poor neighborhood.) She wanted to be "an old fashioned lady" so I shopped the Goodwill, and at very little expense, using my resourcefulness and skill, picked out likely pieces and sewed them into a nice little hooped skirted costume.

I had no idea that there was to be a judging of best costume. I was surprised and a little disturbed when I realized they were conducting the parade as a competition. One of my neighbors, afterwards, said Pat's costume clearly should have won first prize, which it didn't; even though it stood out from the circle of kids as a gem of color, it didn't even place! I have a feeling that the school thought I had purchased an expensive costume and that it was not fair competition against what the poor people of the neighborhood could afford. Actually, for the most part they were no more "poor" than we ourselves were!

I have always found competition in that sort of setting a little distasteful; a reward for work well done is one thing, but a prize for something to which the child probably had not contributed much, was another. I felt the concept of being judged "best" versus that of "never winning anything" often started lifelong patterns of negative character formation. I knew this from my own still remembered sensitive and vulnerable childhood feelings. How much better it would have been if the kids could have just partaken of the fun of an unusual event without any aspersions as to who "won" and who "didn't."

Pat's classroom teacher, though, told me how she had noticed a complete change in her posture when she arrived at school wearing her costume that morning. From a slumped, uninterested bearing, it had changed to one of poise and pride in herself. She was holding herself up tall, regally and proudly, actually becoming the imaginary personality which she was portraying.

I think that was a turning point for her in her feelings of self esteem and confidence which grew from then onwards. It didn't seem to matter to her that she hadn't won a prize, though in the end she did get one, but in a different form than any competition could have ever brought about. I am hoping Logan and Kailey will receive as much from their associations with costumes as their Grandma did those many years ago.


  1. Normally, I'd choose not to publish two stories in a row by the same writer if I have other stories to choose from, but the timeliness of Peggy's story could not be ignored! I hope you all enjoy this sweet story of a very creative mother's attention to the details of her daughter's life, helping her to experience beauty on the outside, and helping her to gain confidence regarding her own beauty on the inside.

  2. From Charlotte:

    You just never know what little thing will affect a child's life path. Great story!

  3. Dear Peggy, you are such an insightful person -always finding the deeper significance on life's paths.

  4. Congratulations on a beautiful story Peggy. I agree it would have been much better for the children if they just had fun parading in their costumes rather than being judged on whose was best. I'm quite sure Patsy was adorable as "an old-fashioned lady" and as you say she was a winner after all.

  5. I loved your attitude which I'm sure has contributed to her self-esteem over the years. I was drawn in by the warmth of connection you had with your daughter and now your grandchildren. I think you should win an award! A good Mom award!