So it’s the day after Halloween and it’s time to “de-Halloweenify”.
Let me start out by saying up front that we are Halloween obsessed. Wait – make that OBSESSED – all caps, bold, underlined and italicized. I’d always liked Halloween as a kid. The idea of dressing up and going around to get candy and pushing the boundaries of how far it was acceptable to wander from home appealed to me as an elementary-aged show-off, a sweet tooth, and a daredevil. Now, it appeals to me for reasons that are akin to homesickness.
Halloween is a distinctly American holiday. Yeah, yeah, the Canadians celebrate it too, but it’s not the big deal it is in the U.S. of A. According to the Business Insider India, Americans spend $6 billion on Halloween annually, with $2 million of that going to the candy industry (approximately 90 million pounds of chocolate – mmmm, chocolate . . . .).
Overseas, it can be a lot more difficult to have a proper Halloween. In the U.S. there are pumpkin patches galore, decorated storefronts, carnivals run by towns and municipalities, churches and schools, and even stores that set up for about six weeks only to sell Halloween stuff. Halloween in Europe, Africa, or Asia is a whole other ball of wax.
DiploDad and I started really getting into Halloween once he joined the Foreign Service. The first year we were abroad, people literally came up to us and invited themselves to “our” Halloween party. Never mind that we weren’t actually having one. A significant number of non-American expats have “done time” in the U.S. with their government or industry, and actually got to like this quirky, bizarre little holiday we have. I’ve heard some of the funnies things said about Halloween.
“You mean to tell me that you have an entire holidays that revolves around lollies??!” (Australian) (Translation: lollies = candy)
“I couldn’t think of anything to dress up as, so I just put on Lederhosen and I found this Styrofoam bone in a shop.” (Swiss)
“Meine Dame, we have had noise complaints. You must tell your guests to be quiet. Unless we stay here to supervise.” (Nod, nod, wink, wink.) (German)
“I love Halloween because even the women that aren’t [tramps] look like them.” (British)
By the time DiploDad had tenure, we were really doing the Halloween thing. Pre-Diplokids, we had parties for adults. Our first really successful party was in Frankfurt, and we hosted with our friend, K. K is brunette. I am blond. The Bush Twins had just been charged with underage drinking, so we just couldn’t resist. We decorated the front door of K’s apartment like a dorm room (complete with a “J&B” ad), donned Yale and Texas baseball caps and spent the entire party dodging the “secret service” who kept trying to hide our drinks. Everything was going great until the police showed up. And to top it off, some idiot neighbor who decided to complain rather than honor their invitation and throw down with us called the duty officer.
Lucky for us, the duty officer was at the party. Even luckier still, it was DiploDad.
“Yes, yes. I know it’s loud. I’m here; it’s ALL under control. Yep. No big deal. You’re welcome.”
The Polizei were young, cool, and curious. And off in less than two hours. By midnight, we had our own security.
Once we had kids, we moved onto something a bit tamer. Maybe not tamer, exactly, but at least the police haven’t shown up. Yet.
Because our DiploBoys don’t go to the American Schools, they suffer a greater dearth of fall and Halloween related activities than the usual American DiploBrat. Which ratchets up my guilt, and makes me overcompensate (again) for subjecting them to this crazy life. So ever since DB1 started school, we’ve had a Kid Halloween Party.
Preparations for the party start as early as the end of August. This really depends on where you are and what you can use locally for Halloween.
You’ve got to order costumes and give them time to arrive in the pouch or via DPO.
You’ve got to figure out what kind of candy you’re giving out for trunk-or-treat.
You have to source pumpkins or find an alternative (pineapples and watermelons work very nicely).
You’ve got to decorate your house, bake your Halloween cookies and pray to God that someone takes pity on you and sends you a box of stuff because although you got a link from some homeschool mommies, you so never ever, ever want to make your own candy corn. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/candy-corn-recipe2.html )
I am lucky. I have an Awesome Sister. H sends me stuff and hooks me up. This year, she sent me two boxes of candy corn, marshmallow ghosts, m&ms and brain gummies. Yeah. So we were ahead of the game by the time October hit.
By October 1, the DiploBoys were chomping at the bit to “Halloweenify”. This is a process by which our entire home is taken over by Halloween Stuff. We brought 8 plastic bins of Halloween stuff. And I am missing about 2 bins, so I am annoyed at the movers for the inconvenience. It’s a fact of store-and-separate that something like this always happens. So now I have my Princess Leia boots and dress but no wig, and my Tinkerbell wings but no costume. Argh. Anyway.
Back to the bins. Over the course of about a day, maybe a day and a half, we switch it all out. We pack up the Buddhas and African beads and baskets and put out pumpkins, monsters, and skulls.
We swap the batik tablecloth out for a black and orange one, and replace the normal throw on the couch with a Halloween one. All the photos get covered by pictures of the DiploBoys in Halloween costumes over the years. A stack of Halloween books comes out and sits in a chair or on the coffee table. Daily plates, glasses, and mugs get put away and Halloween skull bowls and pumpkin plates come out. We also paint our living room orange.
Actually, kidding. We like orange, it just does double duty for October.
The thing is, everyone likes to Halloweenify, but no one likes to de-Halloweenify. So in between paragraphs, I am sorting through the boxes, packing up the pumpkins, the skeletons, the craft supplies, the haunted house masks, and the zombie makeup, and packing it all away.
If I’m lucky, I’ll be done by Christmas.