Halloween’s over now what?

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When we lived in Greenville South Carolina in a historic old neighborhood we always felt like it was/is the ultimate Truman Show neighborhood. We spent weeks preparing for holidays, at Halloween there were costumes to sew, the seasonal decor inside was changed over, the outside was also decorated. We had to carve pumpkins, bake for bake sales, bake for parties, bake for our selves. There was “keeping up the Jones (we lived on Jones Ave.) parties where the ladies would gather to catch up on who was pregnant or who got a new job and the such. There was also the HUGE annual street party which eventually even Spartacus and I went to in-costume (the pressure was on), Usually everyone signed up for the preparation and it all came together in the hours just before dinner when the games, and costume parades and jack o lantern contest were judged. Of course the long night of trick-or-treating and passing out massive amounts of candy to the hoards of inner-city kids that came in buses and taxi’s to our festive and famously generous neighborhood. Many of the “bussed in kids” did not wear costumes, it always seemed sad to me. But by 9:00 when the lights were off and they would continue to knock- my compassion wore off and I vowed to give away licorice the next year. We miss that place so much. It still feels like our true home. On Nov. 1 I was exhausted, and I always ALWAYS wished the day after Halloween were a holiday so that we could sleep in and have the time to de-Halloween the house and get re-decorated for …. Thanksgiving. Yes, those days seem far away and a little hectic.

This year in Switzerland I realize there are a few virtues to the simplicity of eliminating Halloween, ironically though, Nov. 1 is All Saints Day and we are off school and work. Instead of lighting candles at the catholic church and visiting the graves of dead family we went to Germany to the American Airforce base to visit friends and celebrate Halloween American Style. I still sewed costumes, however eliminating all the decorating is really nice and with no parties to prepare for we haven’t added the extra 5 lbs. that usually appears around the waistline by Nov.1. We went on base, spoke lots of English, saw “Planes” in English with no subtitles at a theater and even ate lunch at a subway! We went to an Mexican dinner party with friends of Annie Valentine who we met on our cruise last month. We went to church on Sunday to an English speaking ward and sang hymns in English. It is such a nice place to visit every few months, the only thing that is missing is family. Since there is no Thanksgiving holiday here – and no whole turkeys are sold in Switzerland, my girlfriend Annie Valentine bought me a thanksgiving turkey so that we would still feel at home. How lucky I feel to have a connection to the “America in Europe” and to good friends that can be substitute family. This year we will be feasting over lunch-break and likely our hearts are full of more gratitude than ever for the privileges and blessings of being from and living in America.

Simplifying these holidays eases the stress and the feeling of rushing that always accompanies this time of year. I don’t like to start preparations for Christmas until Thanksgiving is over but in years past, with elaborate parties and decorations, I have almost killed myself trying to transform our home from one holiday to the next overnight. I will likely miss my long staircase decorated in evergreen boughs and softly lit with twinkling lights, but this year I will have views of snow covered alps and real Christmas trees growing out side my window. I will have an extra month to prepare, in fact at the market this week I saw Christmas trees and wreaths making their first appearances. The Holiday decorations are hitting the shop shelves and the cold weather has returned. With all the work we put into Holidays it seems like they should last a bit longer right?! At least an extra month!

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