Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

Now that Halloween is over and life can return to "normal" for awhile...I have a little time to post some pics of our Halloween here in Shanghai this year.

This year we decided to stay closer to home in Kang Qiao (our little suburban town) and celebrate our first [American] fall Holiday with some local friends of ours who have never celebrated it before. They were soooooooo excited about it! Most of the women have 3-4 year olds who are just starting out in various schools. So, they have only had a year or two celebrating this Holiday through the school their kids attend. Some of the women are originally from Singapore and they tell me that it's not celebrated there as well.

Here in China, the idea of Halloween is catching on...especially as the bigger International Schools usually celebrate it. The Chinese people, in general, support ANY Holiday that promotes any kind of consumerism with the westerners. They also tend to look towards the International Schools for some guidance on some things as well. Christmas is a LOT more celebrated, once again because of the consumerism aspect of it all. But, Halloween is a fever many of the local and western kids are beginning to "catch" as well.

Many of my local friends look to me to guide them through these "western" Holidays. I take that responsibility very seriously, technically speaking, and I think it's a lot of fun that they want to learn more about the Holidays I celebrate. I'm grateful, in fact. They surround me with their enthusiasm! It helps make me feel closer to home. Even better these days...I have a chinese friend who WANTS to host more parties at her house now that she has seen me host a few of my own. Her own enthusiasm for hosting parties is wonderful right about now, since I'm feeling much more pregnant and tired. She is happy to take over the task of hostess. Yay! ;-)

So, there was a group of about seven families who were excited to celebrate Halloween together this year. My chinese friend once again offered up her home for the party. I provided the "techincal" assistance for decorations and activities. All of the women and the dads who attended, dressed up! That was fantastic! Because many of them felt "foolish" or out of their comfort zone with the Halloween costumes. In fact, they had brought theirs with them to the party, not intending to change until it was time to trick or treat later in the evening. However, once they arrived, they saw that our hostess (and her CHINESE husband) were dressed up AS WELL AS both Allen and myself...and they changed into their costumes. haha

I have also introduced the concept of "potluck" into our group. These women had very limited experience doing potlucks in the past. In the chinese culture, if you host a party, you usually cook ALL of the food...and it's usually a LOT of it. So, now that I have hosted a few parties and get togethers with potluck food items...these women have taken the concept and run with it! haha We had a large array of wonderully different foods to choose from at the was great!!

We ended up putting on a movie I had brought for background noise...The Nightmare Before Christmas. The kids were absolutely riveted! They loved the movie! Since Halloween isn't a HUGE event here in China, they don't sell any of those kid friendly pumpkin knives or kits. So, it was the adults who ended up carving out the pumpkins. They had a lot of fun doing it! :-) We ended up with a very eclectic set of pumpkin carvings...which was fantastic! The pumpkins over here are somewhat different than pumpkins back home. Most of them have a "squashed" appearance, making the carving space more difficult to work with. However, our local farmer's market provided just enough of the rounder pumpkins for our party. Also, the pumpkins over here have MUCH thicker skins and a lot LESS pulp. I had to advise my local friends to tell the farmers and market people that we, westerners, like STALKS on our pumpkins. The farmers over here farm pumpkins MAINLY for this purpose, so size and variety is limited since they have them for such a short time in the markets. My friends soon discovered WHY we prefer pumpkins with stalks...they had a hard time opening and closing the tops of their pumpkins! They had to go in through the eyes. haha

Once the carving was done, the movie finished, and we had sufficiently eaten our fill...we headed over to a nearby expat compound who houses MANY Americans, English and Europeans. This compound definitely had prepared for this Holiday! MANY adults were dressed up, along with their kids. Once inside the compound and seeing all of the people dressed up, my local friends felt MUCH more at ease in their costumes. In fact, they started really enjoying themselves! :-)

As a group, we proceeded to spend the better part of the evening (until the little kids got tired) trick or treating. MANY of the houses were decorated to the max, the streets were wide and safe and MANY of the residents were well prepared for the Holiday and had treats ready in hand! It was so much fun!

In fact, it was more fun than I can remember many of our Halloween(s) being in the past. I think it's because I felt it was more nostalgic for me...the fact that we were in a larger group, all of us good friends, etc. Back home, we really hadn't had many opportunites to celebrate Halloween the way I may feel I celebrated Halloween growing up. This year's Halloween felt...wonderful...and warm...and friendly...and joyous. Back home, I usually felt a little stressed out...whether it was because we celebrated it in an individual fashion, as a single family, or because we had to be sure the neighborhoods were "safe" and ended up checking all the candy thoroughly anyway, or because our neighborhood back home wasn't very cohesive and/or festive...ETC! Whatever the reason(s)...I'm so glad to have had this one, this way.

After trick or treating, we all headed back to my chinese friend's house, ordered pizza and finished up some of the party food. We were all amazed that ALL the children had enough energy to go upstairs and play, play, play some more! Us adults were EXHAUSTED!! hahaha But, finally we all headed to our own homes and the children crashed for bedtime! I, personally, needed a couple days to "recover" from all that energy and walking!! My own kids were up early the next day, asking me where we could go to have some more fun. haha! I really wish we could bottle up that energy!! in the past...most of my local friends, thanked me time again for the opportunity to celebrate with such festive joy and especially the opportunity to spend more time friends. I LOVE that about them! They are wonderful women and I will miss them immensely when we have to leave.

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