I can barely remember childhood Christmases or Easters. One Christmas stands out because it was the last before I moved to Norway at age 8; one Easter stands out because we ended up spending the day in the ER getting stitches put into my sister’s forehead.
The holiday I remember best is Halloween. I always went as a witch, all in black with a pointy hat. I had no interest for skeletons or ghosts or vampires, and to this day I disdain any girl who shows up dressed as a princess. You know, looking pretty in pink. What’s scary about that???
I was lucky: I had family members who could sew. One Halloween I had a gorgeous outfit because it was decorated with red tulle and sequins, and I wore a domino mask. I may not have been a scary witch but I was certainly no princess!
Carving pumpkins is a lot of fun, too. Sort of the grown-up version of playing with mud pies (oh, and don’t throw the pumpkins innards down the kitchen sink; it’ll clog) – and then you get to be creative.
One of my more adult Halloweens in California had me wearing a troll costume we’d made for a play our youth group had put on for our local Sons of Norway lodge. My then-boyfriend wore his, too. He was 6’4″ (193 cm), and at one point we opened the door to a pair of sisters. My boyfriend started out with his head under my arm, but then he slowly stood up to his full height. The two girls screamed and fled in terror. I hollered after them if they didn’t want any candy, and we heard from way down the block one little girl yell to the other, “Don’t you want the candy?” The braver one came back. We didn’t mean to scare them so, and did say so, but my goodness, did that whole episode symbolize what can be fun about Halloween!
So when the custom slowly started here in Norway a good decade ago, I happily opened my door to the first trick-or-treaters – only to be absolutely dismayed at the cheap, store-bought costumes. No effort made to make oneself look the scariest or the most convincing. I was so disappointed in how only the commercial side of the holiday had made it across the Atlantic that I stopped opening my door. Then the Norwegian kids egged my windows. I never experienced that, either, in the US, so it was another disappointment. They’d not only imported the plastic parts, but also the nasty parts.
Where’s the effort to out-scare each other and run around being something you’re not for one night? It’s supposed to be a kids’ holiday, one where we grown-ups take a backseat and let the children have safe fun playing spooky dress-up. I remember delighting in being dressed up with the other kids, and hopefully being scared by some grown-up (in a good way), but mainly intent on being the one who scares. The kids here put on whatever costume is popular this season, and ring a doorbell to get candy and that’s it.
It’s just not the same. And that’s why I choose not to celebrate it here.