Michelle Martin

Halloween hunting

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My prediction for Halloween this year: You’re going to see a lot of Elsas. A fair number of Annas, too, but Elsa is definitely going to be the queen of the trick-or-treating set.

For those who don’t have young children, or ears bleeding for repeat playings of “Let It Go,” Elsa and Anna are the protagonists of Disney’s 2013 animated blockbuster “Frozen.”

Elsa, the older sister, really is the queen, and she’s the one with the power to freeze things and people. But honestly, Anna does most of the hard work.

Still, a recent trip to our local Target found all the Elsa costumes sold out — three weeks before the holiday no less — while a handful of Anna costumes remained. There was a complement of other Disney princess costumes: Jasmine from “Aladdin,” Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” Cinderella, Rapunzel from “Tangled.” My two favorite princesses, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and Mulan, however, were not there.

Teresa had to look at each and every one, I think hoping that there might have been an Elsa costume hiding somewhere. She even looked at the ladybug costume with red and black wings, and the Dorothy costume, although I don’t think she’s ever seen “The Wizard of Oz.”

She finally ended up with a more generic princess dress, not a signature look of any of the Disney princesses, and long white gloves that yes, do have pictures of the princesses on them.

I think we were in the costume aisle for 45 minutes, between taking down the costumes, trying some on, replacing them on hangers, etc. I think we put everything back where it was supposed to be, or at least where we found it.

And I found myself wondering why I brought a 4-year-old with me to buy a Halloween costume. Wouldn’t it have been easier to present her with two or three choices and go from there?

It likely would have been. But it also would have meant a storm of tears, because Teresa is perfectly aware that there is a whole aisle of Halloween costumes at Target, and at lots of other stores, and no matter how many princess dresses she already has, there is always room for one more in the dress-up suitcase. Especially if this one has no frayed hems or tears or marker stains yet.

So Teresa got to experience “choice overload,” the phenomenon that happens when people are confronted with too many choices. Psychology experiments have found that when people are offered too many choices — too many kinds of chocolates, or too many flavors — they have a harder time making a choice, and are less happy with their ultimate decisions than people who choose from a narrower range of options.

Perhaps that’s what we all need from time to time: to let go of the endless choices, quiet our minds and listen to what we know is right. To know that it doesn’t really matter what brand of jam we buy as much as it matters that we are trying to feed people who are hungry.