Before this belated Halloween post I need to say one thing: Hurrah Obama! I am one proud expat this morning.
Now back to Halloween. I figure I can still squeeze this post in without it being ridiculously belated.
Some read into Halloween’s roots in pagan-like superstition. Some see it as an excuse for sugar-crazed kids to torment the neighbors begging for candy. But for me, growing up and now, its about dressing up, make believe, candy and community. And some innocent fun! I have some really fond memories of my childhood Halloweens.
I’m told Halloween is getting quite “big” over here but it doesn’t feel that way. Yes they’ve got spooky biscuits and child costumes in the shops (the retailers always catch on first) and there may be the occasional Halloween party but it doesn’t compare to what I experienced as a kid where the run up to Halloween involved dressing up, spooky songs at nursery school, witch hat art projects, pumpkin picking & carving and a viewing of The Worst Witch on TV. Not to mention admiring the over the top spooky house decorations. Then on the actual day, there was the thrill of trick-or-treating with my mom and the excitement of the rare bounty of candy we’d come home with. When I got a little older my sister and I created a “haunted house” in our basement. Still older I volunteered as a “fortune teller” at a school-hosted Halloween party for little ones. Along the way there were some kids that played silly practical jokes but it was mainly good, clean community fun where kids dressed up, got some treats, indulged their imagination. Adults admired the cute costumes. My mom wouldn’t let us eat any candy that wasn’t wrapped, safety first and all that…
At nearly three this is LLC’s third Halloween. We’ve always dressed her up and carved a Jack-o-Lantern (and last year even attended a Halloween party where Chris, LLC and I were the only ones who dressed up!) but this year we’ve been discussing the occasion more and singing Halloween songs that I learned as a kid. So I decided she was ready for the magic of trick-or-treating. For London we live in quite an intimate neighborhood so we planned to stick to our street and the next. I explained to LLC the name of the game, she practied her “trick or treat” and off we went.
Silly me. I’ve always been an enthusiast for trick-or-treaters behind my door so didn’t pay enough attention to what was going down beyond. Which was not much! In keeping with etiquette we only knocked on well lit houses or those with spooky decor outside, but these were few and far between. I soon realized that even well lit houses don’t mean the residents are partaking after we were turned away at a couple of doors. We also went fairly early, around 5pm, and there weren’t many other children out at this time.
LLC and LMM (strapped to me in the bjorn) received some lovely comments on their costumes and LLC came a way with a small pumpkin basket of sweets. It was sweet to watch LLC excitedly pointing out jack-o-lanterns and chirping trick-or-treat. So for LLC, it was a result. But for me, it was overall a bit uncomfortable. I became acutely wary of disturbing people who might not be celebrating and the whole experience seemed a bit flat.
But where I’m a product of the American Halloween, my neighbors are not. Most are likely a product of no Halloween at all, thus why I expect the concept is not wholeheartedly embraced and that’s fair enough. Maybe I need to adjust my expectations. Assimilated as I am to life in the UK, it’s times like this where nostalgia takes hold. LLC sporting one of my old bunny rabbit costumes and little pumpkin LMM looked pretty cute though!!
What do you make of Halloween?