We’re into our second year here. That means that we’re finding some traditions. We can now say, “Last year…” Halloween is a perfect example. Halloween is an American holiday. And we are not living in the United States of America right now. Last year, Halloween was a big deal. The kids wondered what we were going to do. They were lamenting not going trick-or-treating. And ultimately, they knew that they were missing out on something from back home. (If you are not from the U.S., trick-or-treating is an odd tradition where one dresses up in costumes and goes door-to-door in the neighborhood, knocking on doors and saying ‘trick-or-treat’ and having your neighbors or strangers comment on your cute/interesting/scary/unique costume and putting some candy in a bag or such you are carrying with you).
We lucked out. South Africa, or at least where we live, seems to have a touch of American products here and there. Last year, we were surprised to find ordinary Halloween-carving pumpkins on display in a special section in our local average grocery store. So, we bought one for each of us to carve.
On Halloween day, while the kids were at school, I realized that they were missing out on a lot of candy due to not trick-or-treating. I’m fine with that. But my mother-heart kicked in. And I realized this just wasn’t about candy and costumes. This was about being strangers in a new land and leaving familiar and loved traditions and customs back at home.
And so, I did what so many parents have done through the generations when living away from their homeland. I figured out how to adapt our customs and traditions to this new place. I walked up to the local small market and picked out a bunch of candy. I then returned home and created a treasure hunt with the final location revealing an assortment of candy for each child.
It was a hit, to say the least. And the whole afternoon was fabulous. We had the treasure hunt and we carved pumpkins. The kids got to eat candy. I don’t remember what else we did but we were together.
Fast forward to this year. The kids knew that Halloween was coming. And in this season where I do a lot of travel, they were adamant that I needed to be home on Halloween. But as we got closer to the holiday, I could tell it didn’t have the same urgency as last year. We weren’t seeing pumpkins in the stores and they said, “Well, that’s okay if we don’t find them. We can decorate paper pumpkins.” Last year, such a suggestion would have gotten us kicked out of the house.
We did find some pumpkins. They were a bit bruised. But we got them. Only two this year. And I made a treasure hunt again, because that’s how we celebrate Halloween now. And we spent the afternoon together. Hunting for treasure. Eating candy. Carving pumpkins. Lighting candles. Taking pictures. Remembering. This is what we do for Halloween, after all.
Here’s some pictures of the day:
The pumpkins in the “trolley” at the grocery store
The kids on the treasure hunt
Jon’s specialty – cutting the lids
Sophia is a bit more interested at first in the Halloween music videos I was playing
Getting into it…
Lighting of the jack o’lanterns