Monday, October 27, 2014
I'm a Stranger Here Myself - Weston, MA
You know that Bill Bryson book about re-patriating named I'm a Stranger Here Myself? Besides having the best title for a repatriation book ever, it is perfect for many a moment of mine here. This time it involves Halloween. It turns out that Halloween, that wonderful silly holiday of my childhood, is not what it used to be. And before you think this is going to be one of those sad tales about how everything was better back in my day, blah blah say the teenagers, I will tell you it is quite the opposite.
I had a storybook childhood. I really did. After being born in University Hospital in NYC (giving me bragging rights FOREVER for being a New Yorker--this is huge to Brazilians), my family moved out to suburban New York when I was around three and my brother five. We spent our early childhood at the top of a hill where houses got hit by lightning (making for great fireball stories), kickball was played in the dead end and we were surrounded on two sides by huge farms. No wonder I like Weston.
I have a hard time choosing a favorite holiday -- probably Thanksgiving, possibly Christmas --and a close third is Halloween (well, seriously which other one would you choose? July 4? No). I loved dressing up as most kids do and candy never hurt anyone (says the mother of a kid with five cavities) but I was terrified of the dark. So trick or treating was done early, in huge gangs of kids, and only in the hilltop neighborhood. It was awesome and the candy lasted at least a week, and my mom would always eat out the dark chocolate outliers for me. Who gives dark chocolate to kids? Anyway.
My total of 9 years in Brazil (six of them with kids) showed me that Brazil has no idea how to do Halloween and should simply ignore the holiday. I even had a short-lived campaign to make the country give it back cause they were wrecking it. It's all about adult parties with people wearing skimpy clothes they REALLY shouldn't or children's parties in party rooms with tons of candies and nothing involving pumpkins, trick or treat yelling or the joy of trying to walk in a form-fitting nylon costume with your snowsuit on underneath because of course the weather turned. I tried to ignore Brazilian Halloween.
So I've been loving fall as you all know from my blog, and the lead-up to Halloween has caused me to buy about 40000000 pumpkins because I can't resist a farm stand or the church selling pumpkins to save the Navajos and then we got some from the Cub Scouts and well, I have an army of the little orange things outside on my steps. I bought skeleton flamingos, put up the pumpkin lights and have scheduled the candy run as close to the date as possible. I buy all the candy I love of course in case there are leftovers and there are never leftovers when I have eaten them all by October 30. Life learnings here, my friends, life learnings.
When I was over at my friend-neighbor's (frie-bors?) house last week, though, I got completely blown out of the imaginative waters. The kids told me they had just been GHOSTED. And I said, very intelligently, "like in Ghostbusters?" and then all the kids who were born LONG after that movie came out looked at me like the irrelevant adult I am, and scoffed. It is tough to be scoffed at by 10 year olds when they are not yours. Trying to recover I said "just kidding! so do you feel okay now?"
It turns out that there are no health issues associated with being ghosted. It is a new (to me) American fad of ringing the doorbell of one of your friends or neighbors, leaving treats and small presents on their doorstep, and running away before they can catch you. Included with the treats is a little card and a ghost or sign that says:
You've Been Ghosted!
Late last night, we left you a treat. The tradition is fun, one we hope you'll repeat.
Take the ghost and pin it on your door, to let others know, you need ghosted no more.
Now it's your duty to pass on the surprise, to two more families, we must advise.
Gather some treats and deliver them soon, within two nights, under the light of the moon.
Once you've been ghosted, you are supposed to ghost two more houses in the neighborhood until every house has been done. In actuality, some people get ghosted multiple times and then hit several houses back.
My kids got ghosted tonight. We had just gotten back from a soccer game at 6:45 when the doorbell rang. We got there pretty fast but all that was there was two pirate handkerchiefs, some Boo bags, candy, trinkets and the ghosted note.
I love it. I admit it. Though this means that I will need to spend some time tomorrow putting together two ghosting packages and then drive or walk the kids to two nearby houses in pitch black cold, I love it. And I love that someone ghosted my kids--it shows that they have made friends here (I'm guessing you don't ghost enemies).
Now I am up to speed on the latest in doorbell ditching. Tricking and treating. Ghosting. Bring it on. I'm still a stranger but I'm catching up...