Let me start by saying that it’s been a GREAT Halloween season. This year was a little different because my Mom was coming over a couple of times a week to help me snip threads, cut out designs, and wrangle the little ones while I pushed through the workload, not to mention this is the first season that Josh has also been working from home and available to be my back-up. All in all, I am coming out on top of the game this year. That is not always the case, trust me. The harrowing Halloween truth is that this time of year, the volume of business which I am simultaneously SO grateful for and slightly terrified of, nearly ruins me. No matter how prepared I am, no matter how many extra capes, crowns, and masks I have put back throughout the year, it always has a way of sneaking up on me. I go from having fewer and fewer little moments to relax to all of a sudden, I realize I haven’t signed a kid’s school folder for weeks, haven’t been in the kitchen for days, (I have only cooked about one homemade meal a week for the last couple months, which is horrible for me because I LOVE to cook and it is so cathartic to me!), and have nearly given up running and biking altogether…All the little things that make me feel grounded and centered and pulled together, in other words, get forsaken during this season. And while I have gotten so much better about taking care of myself and maintaining good familial relationships during this phase, there have been years (this is my fifth Halloween on Etsy as a costume designer) that I have felt like a vessel for all the work that passed through my hands and nothing more when it was over. Literally nothing left inside me. Hollow, empty, sad, tired, and so in need of a break and some down time that I didn’t even realize it anymore. You all know the feeling. One day of needing a break goes unfulfilled on top of another and another and before long you are wondering why did I want to work from home again?…If you don’t know the feeling, I will only say that it is soul wrenching and quite hard to recover from. Add to that stress the fact that I LOVE this time of year for what it affords my family, and am usually eager to reopen the shop after Halloween because I am able to save money, fund Christmas, birthdays, and extracurricular sport activities, and get on top of things going into the new year with the revenue earned this time of year, (No time to crawl under a rock and nurse your wounds, I can tell you that!!) and one busy season easily flows right into the other. And speaking of wounds, there have been plenty. There was the one year I dropped my spring-loaded thread trimming scissors and in trying to catch them, I stabbed myself (deeply!) in the leg, the countless callouses on my not-so-dainty hands which I have given up ever getting rid of, the aches in my hips and back from sitting in a chair at the sewing machine for hours and hours every day, the broken needles popping off and ricochetting off my face….The concept of pouring your blood, sweat, and tears doesn’t just remain some distant cliché, but a promise here during Halloween and then again for Christmas business. All is not dark in this tale though! Of course I wouldn’t be in my fifth year if that was all there was to the story. That is but a small part that I usually keep to myself and those closest around me. This year, I am coming out on top, though! With Mom and Josh’s help, it has felt like a different year. Not to mention, unsurprisingly, the longer I do this, the easier it seems to get!
Now that I have revealed the ugly truth about this time of year, I will reveal something else too. The counter story to this one. The uplifting, gratifying, happy version. The version where I get a picture from a customer, whose child has just tried on their costumes for the first time and they are glowing! Or the review from a Mom who said her kid doesn’t want to take their costume off, or wanted to sleep in it every night! The endless inspiration I get from customers is such a source of renewal and rejuvenation. They come to me asking for what they think will be the craziest idea, but to me is a challenge that is like a bright light bursting through the clouds. In my house we talk about “The Bucket”…That internal source of joy and happiness that can be filled or emptied by certain experiences. My Dad always called it “The Internal Well” and it became a metaphor for self-care and guide for who to let into your life. Does someone help fill your bucket, or drain it? And the same goes for experiences. I will make the distinction here that all my customers, all my orders, all my success fills my well. Fills it so high! The only draining part is the longevity of the process…The 16 hour days and aches and pains that go along with it. I love ALL my customers so much and am so grateful to them all. Having said that, I now say that there is a special place in my life for these custom order requests. They fill the well in double measure and fuel so much of the creativity I draw on throughout the year. It really is a blessing to have people come to me, to entrust their kids’ visions, dreams, and fantasies with me to make them a reality. I changed The Tree House Kid slogan this year after having this thought to: “THE TREE HOUSE KID, Turning Fantasies into Realities Since 2011!” I know it’s a fitting one because I’ve looked at it for months and haven’t gotten tired of it yet, and I think it helps define TTHK pretty perfectly. As a tribute to the end of Halloween Season 2015, coming out on top and in better and better shape every year, and to all my customers, big and small, old and young, custom and not custom alike, I share these with you now. Enjoy your Haunting and Long Live ALL The Tree House Kids~~~