Talk about culture shock. We barely got into September before I was walking into stores and seeing Halloween everywhere. Everywhere.
Aisle after aisle of candy and costumes. Even costumes for dogs.
People here decorate their houses. They put big blow up witches on their front lawns. They drape fake cobwebs on the bushes by their front doors.
At the beginning of October it began at school. Olivia was abuzz about her upcoming Halloween party. Every week she was bringing home Halloween books from the library. She and Gabe were singing rousing choruses of "Dem bones" at the dinner table.
What a contrast to China where most of our friends didn't celebrate Halloween, and for the rest of us it was basically an afterthought. "Oh, is it October 31 today? Quick, run to the store and get some candy. Kids, pull out the dress-up box. What do you want to wear?"
Here, several weeks ago our kids were being asked by kindly people, "What are you going to be for Halloween?"
Aaron and I looked at each other, a little baffled. Should we take the kids Trick-or-Treating this year like we did in China? Here, it was so much of a bigger deal. Did we want to support all the hoopla? I mean, the fact that Halloween rivaled Christmas in the stores was slightly scary to us. (Pardon the pun.)
In the end, we opted to keep Halloween as low-key as possible. Just like in China.
We pulled out our dress-up clothes at the last minute. We took the kids to Disney On Ice in the morning and went Trick-or-Treating at the local elderly center in the evening. It was a fun day. I wish Halloween hadn't been a two-month focus, but I guess that's part of the culture we're living in now.
We could say, "We don't celebrate Halloween," and shut off our lights and hide from Trick-or-Treaters. Or go to a Harvest Party at church. Sure, we could do that. A lot of people do and I don't blame them.
But I think it blessed the people in the elderly center to see our kids coming through to get candy. (I know Sophie scored smiles of admiration in her jingly, pink Xinjiang dress.) Olivia and Gabe enjoyed their Halloween parties at school. It was fun for my kids to put on their dress-up clothes and, of course, we are still enjoying the Halloween candy. That's the focus: fun.
Below are some pictures of my kids in their garb: Gabe the pirate and his gypsy princess escorts. To her Halloween party at school, Olivia wore the Felicity dress Grandma Nai Nai made her. She told everyone she was Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean. (I have a feeling that being Kiera Knightley is a slightly cooler option than admitting you're dressed as an American Girl doll.)