Being American, I forget that Halloween, while recognized in many other parts of the world, is really an American holiday. In fact, many of the retail stores here skip Halloween altogether and go straight to Christmas. In Nora’s classroom, I’m an assistant room parent (yes, just one heartbeat away from top spot–just kidding, Ika) and we gathered a group of parents to discuss festivities for the year. When the subject of Halloween came up, the other parents shifted uncomfortably. We needed to carve four pumpkins for the classroom and everyone around the table looked hopeless. They are from Fiji, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, and other far-flung parts and have never carved a pumpkin before. I realized, as the American, it was my duty to get things rolling. “Well, I can carve two pumpkins but I’m probably not going to commit to all four,” I offered. Pretty soon an Australian, a German, and the Fijian gamely offered to do it as well. My little team consisted of Nora and another American girl and 3 German boys. Everyone wanted our pumpkin to be terrifying and the boys decided the pumpkin should have VERY sharp fangs. I loved showing the boys this new craft except they kept shoving their hands and arms inside the pumpkin while I was carving with a long butcher knife. Not recommended!
While some step gingerly around this holiday, the American expats make sure that we get in some heavy celebrations. We’ve already attended 3 Halloween parties and have 2 more to go. If we were back in the U.S., I probably would attend only half of these but, over here, I’m in the business of making new friends so we’re showing up at all of them. The last get-together is on Halloween and is actually our event. Gary and I are going to strut our stuff as Trekkies, old-school, polyester style. Gary will be Spock and I will be the chick with the short red dress (what is her name??). Anyway, I thought it was the best Target could offer and I ordered them online and Gary picked them up in Raleigh last week while back on a business trip.
On a random note, I can never think of Star Trek without being reminded of an exchange student my family hosted while I was about 8 years old. “Juan” was from Columbia, 16 years old, and didn’t know a word of English when he arrived. He stayed with us about 6 months and cared only about these things: Star Trek re-runs, hot dogs, and our microwave oven. He was mesmerized by all three of them and we could hardly pry him away. That was the only remarkable thing about Juan except, after he left, I–being the youngest in the family–was sent in to clean out his bedroom. Under the bed, I discovered a huge cache of soft porn magazines. So, I guess he cared about more than we realized and, now, I had something to share with my other 8 year old friends! I was in Catholic school so this was a major score. However, my mother confiscated the material so that was the end of a fascinating cultural exchange.