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the scariest catalog

I realize it’s September 9th and that Halloween is seven weeks away. Try telling that to my kids. It’s like they have a sensor that goes off when they realize they haven’t harassed me about anything new in a while. Or maybe it’s because the wretched Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog arrived the day after Labor Day.


It’s called “Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies” but what it should really be called is “Satan’s Manifesto by Chasing Fireflies.” It’s hard to enjoy the last days of summer when I know that thing is on its way. Because it’s filled to the brim with some scary, scary shit.

My kids don’t think it’s scary. When they see it in the mail they jump up and down as if possessed and then flop down on their bellies, heads braced on elbows, to lick through every page with the focus and concentration I would hope they exhibit at school, but which I fear they only exhibit towards the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog. They drag the thing around like it’s a pet. They look at it in the bathtub, pages held high over the water.


tate explaining to me at 7:15 AM that he needs to check the mailbox because finn told him we are getting ninja costumes today


me explaining to tate that his brother is a liar

I brought up the catalog to other moms this week. My friend Heather said parents she knows intercept their copies in the mail and then hide them. Other friends just destroy them. Technically these friends may be committing federal mail fraud, if the catalogs are addressed to their kids. But I didn’t have the heart to get all lawyerly, because God knows, I get it. I only wish I’d had the foresight to do something about it.

The day the Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies catalog comes, the insanity begins. There are other catalogs that will come, but Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies is the ne plus ultra of Halloween catalogs. The wares are displayed on real child models, mostly blond, and each costume bears a long, corny description that seeks to justify the staggering expense of the wares. There’s nothing like girding your loins to pay $60.00 for an astronaut costume and then realizing the helmet is an additional $48.50. An astronaut without a helmet is basically a repairperson. A homemade helmet on top of a $60.00 astronaut outfit is just sad. I know all this because I wrestled with whether to buy that costume for three weeks last year before deciding to bend Finn’s will into believing that he wanted to be a Stormtrooper instead ($29.99 on Amazon).

I might feel bad about cheaping out on my kids, except that I don’t, because it turns out that Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies doesn’t want money from my kind. If they did, they wouldn’t offer costumes like this.


Don’t be the asshole who lets your kid dress up as another RACE. I mean, just don’t. Call me overly PC or whatever, but are there really so few options out there that you need to indulge your child’s desire to dress up in some bastardized version of someone else’s national or racial heritage? I mean, maybe you can dress your kid up as a specific PERSON of another race. Like, I guess, Pocahontas or something. Maybe. No, probably not. Unless you put a nametag on the outfit that says “Pocahontas” or otherwise makes it crystal fucking clear that you are paying homage, not being racist. But that still feels wrong. Maybe even more wrong than no nametag. I dunno. I’m not Native American. But maybe, just don’t do it. And that goes for the rest of your racist family.


Finn and Tate have their costumes picked out. Black and white ninjas. With all the accessories, the costumes for both kids will cost a neat $150. But don’t worry. I have seven weeks to convince them that they want to dress up as their daddy instead, using his neckties and some of his cufflinks. The nice thing about your kids picking out their costumes seven weeks early is you get to enjoy the magic of Halloween for two months. What could be better?


sorry kids. mommy needs that money for retinol

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. I share your sentiments… all I know is that if a family comes to our door dressed as the queen, princess and knights (complete with personalized capes) totaling $400, I may have to beat them up (in front of my children and the whole neighborhood).

    September 10, 2013
  2. I barely dare comment on this topic – hereabouts I am held up as the exemplar/cautionary tale of How NOT to be a Good Mother When It Comes to Halloween costumes.

    My infamy is the result of encouraging my daughter for three years running to go out trick or treating, in home styled costumes, representing 1) A recycling bin, 2) A ballot box (hell yes we recycled that box from year 1!) and 3) a Lutheran Pastor (they’d recently “allowed” females to begin serving as ordained clergy).

    My daughter (soon to turn 30) keeps the photos handy as proof of the abuse to trot out if/when her contemporaries (or therapist) voice disbelief or accuse her of exaggeration.

    I realize Momma needs that cash for Retinol but do the long term math – pricey costumes now (with photos to prove your “love” for all eternity) or years (and years) of therapy later?

    September 10, 2013
  3. My mother used to complain about these very same catalogs! Great post as usual.

    1. Store costumes are cool, until you get old enough for contests. Then you want something really clever/horrible/raunchy enough to impress your friends.

    2.Since Halloween is all about scaring, I never understood why it is that white people costumes arn’t the Halloween costume of choice. This is why I thought it was ok for Prince Harry to dress as a Nazi that one year. That’s a really scary white person costume — which brings me back to point 1. When you get older you need costumes that are offensive enough to impress your friends, which don’t get sold in catalogs. Catalogs just sell costumes that are part of the pervasive racism that white people don’t notice.

    September 9, 2013
    • I like your take on prince Harry’s costume. Prince Harry is hot and royal and clearly a rascal. therefore he can do no wrong in my book. But I do not endorse the hitler costume

      September 10, 2013
  4. Love the “Your brother is a liar” picture!
    Yeah, my kids have to come up with ideas that I can scrap together from our own house or from pieces at the thrift store. We might spice things up with a few dollar-store details. I once made a fantastic Frankenstein head our of he bottom of a milk jug.
    I’ve never seen anything like that catalog in my life! So over the top and inappropriate!

    September 9, 2013
    • I love Frankenstein and am charmed by the idea of a milk jug Frankenstein head

      September 10, 2013
  5. What the heck ever happened to MAKING costumes? And no I don’t mean spending countless hours sewing them? I mean like wigs and adult size clothing cut down to fit a kid? I mean I remember going one year as Little Red Riding Hood and yes my mom made the red cape but we were not talking a lot of skill needed for that. The next year, we used the cape and a granny wig and with some face make up and a borrowed cane I was a little old lady. One year it was Angels with cardboard wings and a wire halo with gold Christmas garland wrapped around it. The next year the white “dress” from that homemade costume became a wedding dress and an old lace curtain served as the veil. Kids have no creativity anymore thanks to catalogs like you got, and Halloween Stores like they have in my area. Cripes our store has been up and running since AUGUST! I desperately tried to interest my son when he was young into being creative – how bout a box of McD;s fries – a little cardboard for the sleve and cut up foam with some spray paint for the fries, hey that would be cool. But no year after year it was the already made costumes that cost a fortune and never fit right. And I agree with your perspective on the costumes for other races, etc. Just. Not. Right. What. Were. They. Thinking? LOL. Loved the post! 🙂

    September 9, 2013
    • It is true that Halloween used to feel like more of a creative endeavor and it makes me sad to think about it. Left to their own devices I suspect the boys would do ok. Maybe I’ll try it and blog the results. Thanks for the idea

      September 9, 2013
  6. Does that ninja helmet come in adult sizes? I want to go as Daft Punk…

    September 9, 2013
  7. Why have I never heard of this catalog? Not that I’m sorry by your description. And now I’m all self conscious about Lucas going as a ‘guy from Arkasas’ a few years ago. Did that cross a cultural line? :/

    September 9, 2013
    • That costume was more of a regional parody. I certainly enjoyed it. Plus you’re white. If it didn’t bug you, who am i to judge? That’s how I will justify ninja costumes if I can find some at goodwill

      September 9, 2013

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