Monday, November 05, 2007

Trick or Treating BAD - Blowing things up GOOD

It's that time of year again... I journaled about it last year and this year's entry will be much of the same. Halloween has passed by with only a slight notice. It used to be one of my most favourite times of the year when I lived in Canada.

It is so much fun getting dressed up in costumes and going out in character. You can be your alter ego for one day and everyone lets loose and has a good time. If you prefer to stay home, you hand out candy to the neighbourhood kids - and you'll probably dress up in a scary costume and decorate your porch or carport with skeletons and cobwebs and tombstones. You might even have some scary music playing to entice the children. Oh what FUN!! The streets are littered with kids dressed up as Pirates, Princesses and Rock Stars. The Jack O'Lanterns are aglow everywhere you look. There is no mistaking Halloween in North America.

But it's completely different here. First of all, it's not quite the same getting in the spirit of all this spookiness when the sun is shining, the days are long and it's warm outside. Halloween in Spring... no Jack O'Lanterns... pumpkin season is in April here. So many people don't "believe" in celebrating this fun occasion. I've heard some kids telling Natalya and Chantelle that it's not Christian... but I went to Catholic School... and we dressed up and had costume competitions at school!

Kiwis just don't understand why we celebrate this silly holiday. They don't seem to understand that sometimes it's just a fun thing to do. Any excuse to have fun and celebrate - that's us. But Kiwis think the entire concept is rude - who sends their children around to beg their neighbours for lollies? Strange children banging on your door is frightening to some, but what about the fact that it brings neighbours together?? It is certainly a great way to meet the families in your neighbourhood and see the children growing up each year.

When the girls came home from school we all got into our costumes. Natalya was a "white witch" and Chantelle just chose a few random things out of our costume box and threw together her costume. She called herself a "spice girl". I dressed up as a Bull Rider - my mom sent the costume for Brian but he was working so it would have been a shame not to use it this year. I was a bit too short so my bull was kinda droopy. The costume had a battery operated fan which kept the bull inflated.

We headed over to the church where they have their annual "Saints and Angels" party. There were games with chances to win lollies (candy), also a free bake table and rickshaw rides. It's a great thing for our community and it attracts kids from all over. Most of them don't dress up - and the ones that do don't put nearly as much effort into their costumes as they would back home... but it's too hot for face make-up anyway. And I was the only adult who dressed up! Thank goodness I'm not self conscious!! Natalya came over to me and gave me a great big hug and told me she was so lucky that I was the only Mum who wore a costume. She was proud of me.

The girls really wanted to go trick or treating afterward and we finally got a chance to meet the neighbours we've been meaning to introduce ourselves to for the past 8 months (you see why Halloween is so good?)... and then more neighbours came over we haven't met yet. It turns out there are 5 of us in a row who are in our 30's and have two kids. We made plans to have a BBQ get together soon.

We carried on down the street with another family (their two girls are 5 & 7)... but I felt very strange. You had NO idea which houses to let your kids knock on. It was sunny outside so there were no lights on and no jack o'lanterns to let you know they were believers in Halloween... most people didn't answer their doors... a few people came outside and told the children that they didn't have anything... a few gestured for them to go away...

It was awful. I actually felt uncomfortable. I felt so badly for the kids... they just wanted to have fun.

So we went home defeated so I took the girls over to see Mrs. P. I knew she wanted to see them and she always has candy. Boy was I was right - she was SO delighted to see us all dressed up in our costumes. She especially loved my costume!!! She was so impressed with it and wanted me to let my mom know just how clever it was.

We stopped at a few houses in our old neighbourhood - there are a few older couples that really looked forward to seeing the girls because there weren't many kids in that area. One guy was so excited to see the girls coming, he ran inside to find some candy but came out with his entire fruit bowl instead! The girls were so excited to get so much yummy fruit! The girls thought it was WAY better than lollies.

Overall the girls got a teeny fragment of the amount of candy they would have gotten if they were trick or treating in Canada - but they thought they won the lottery and were so grateful. I was proud of them. They are not spoiled kids and they truly appreciate what they get.

The next morning when I got to work, Mrs. P was still buzzing over our Halloween costumes. She had just gotten off the phone with her sister telling her all about it. Then Mrs. P said something to me that has really stuck in my head...

She said, "I've been thinking about it all night and I think I've figured out what the problem with New Zealand is. The people here don't know how to have fun. They are too stuffy."

You said it Mrs. P!

They don't celebrate Halloween but on November 5th they celebrate a thing called Guy Fawkes. This guy named "Guy Fawkes" plotted to blow up Parliament in 1605. Click to read more about it. So tonight there are fireworks going off all over the place and my cat has disappeared from fright.

Fireworks are okay but children dressed up asking for candy is not. You tell me, where's the sense in that?

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