Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Open your Mind and walk across a String Bridge

Yeah, I know my title is lame but it's the only way I could think of to include both long-anticipated book releases this week- String Bridge by Jessica Bell and Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.  I’m so excited for the authors and- of course to read their new books and you should be too!

In honor of Susan’s release of Open Minds- I’m going to share a recent experience.

 As some of you might know, Halloween only arrived in France in 1998.  It saw a rise and then a fatal decline.  Most shopping centers didn’t even sell Halloween paraphernalia this yearL 

But being the stubborn American that I am- determined to give my children and others the authentic ‘experience’, I bit the bullet and went door to door around my neighborhood last week, asking my French neighbors (whom I’d never met- in most cases.  French people in the city suburbs really prefer to keep to themselves and not be bothered) if they wanted to participate in the ‘trick or treating’ part of my Halloween party.  I explained what they had to do and even offered to bring a bag of candy to hand out before hand (because you can’t go up to a French person and say ‘we’re celebrating Halloween.  Go buy candy please.)

To my infinite surprise- not only did most of my neighbors agree, but they congratulated me on my efforts- some offered to buy the candy themselves and others asked if their own children could participate! :)  But then I got to one house where the husband agreed with a smile (once I said I’d provide the candy myself) until his wife came downstairs, took one look at me and said: ‘What do you want?’.

Her husband tried to explain to her but the moment she heard the word ‘Halloween’ she shook her head and cried ‘Oh no no no!  We want no part of that.  Forget it.  The answer’s no.’  She and her husband continued to argue while I tried to slink away from their house with my apologies but the husband shook his head at me and explained that his wife was just in a bad mood because the kids had gotten her riled up and to pay her no attention.  #awkward.

Against my better judgment, I arrived on their doorstep with a bag of candy the afternoon before the Halloween party.  The same woman answered the door- and this time she was looking a lot less worked up.  She apologized for biting my head off the week before and confided that she really found Halloween to be ‘dark, ugly, and without sense.’ 

Thankfully, I’ve been teaching French children about the origins of Halloween for the last four years so I have an entire historical schpiel engraved in my memory.  I explained to her how France also celebrates All Hallows Day on November 1st- here it’s the Toussaint and it’s the day of the dead.  Most people bring flowers to dead relatives and clean up their graves. 

With that I explained the origin of the idea of All Hallows Eve and how the traditions of dressing up and giving candy came about.  She listened with interest, nodding here and there but then at the end said:  ‘Well the children do it for the candy in any case.’ 
I couldn’t disagree with that. 

But that night when we arrived at her house- the woman looked at the large group of costumed children in surprise and grinned ear to ear as she handed out candy.  She even went and got a camera and followed us to the next house!

I could tell that it went against her grain, but that woman kept an open mind and in the end, shared in the joy and festivities of Halloween.  It was, for me, a sight to see.

I hope everybody here had a fantastic Halloween!  And be sure to check out Open Minds and String Bridge!!!

32 comments:

Jennifer Groepl said...

What a great reminder to all about keeping an open mind! Glad you had such a nice Halloween! I'll have to remember to check out these books. :)

Em-Musing said...

Kudos for your effort! Now, that's what I call being passionate for a cause. And kudos also for your cause in promoting Jessica Bell's String Bridge and Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.

Jen Daiker said...

Bloggers being difficult today.

Jess's book is brilliant! I haven't had a chance to read Susan's but want to with all the buzz around town (yes, on the blogs) and because the cover is so darn interesting!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Love this story! I remember when I lived in outside Pont St. Esprit we had trick-or-treaters ring the door. But the kids were dressed in plastic shopping bags with holes cut for their heads and arms, and bright red rouge and lipstick -- even the boys. I had candy to give out, but I ended up eating most of it myself. That was in '98. I could totally picture the woman in your story. What you achieved is priceless!

Hope all's well, ma belle!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

We didn't have trick or treating in England, either, when I grew up. We'd heard about it, but our big celebration was on November 5 (Guy Folks night). I was 11 yo when I finally got to do it. Once I moved to the US. And then I only got to do it twice before I was considered too old. :(

Yay for Jessica and Susan. I beta read Susan's book. I thought it was great!!!

Old Kitty said...

Good luck to Susan and Jessica with their respective scrummy books!!

I love this post about you taking a chance and the open mindedness you met - especially from this wonderful woman who was resistant at first!

Happy halloween! Take care
x

Angela Brown said...

Wonderful support shown to the authors of the debut novels. I had loads of fun doing my blog review and launch party post for Open Minds. So much fun :-)

Your story is so inspiring. You took a chance and provided All Hallows Eve edification to someone who probably heard it from "a friend of a friend" about how "evil and dastardly" it was. Yet, with a bit of knowledge and adorable costumed kids trick or treating, she learned something new. It does take opening one's mind up to do that, and she's probably a "giggly bundle" because of it. Thanks for sharing the story.

AmieSalmon said...

That's so great that you went to all that hard work and it paid off! Glad to see you had a fab Halloween, and I'll defo be checking out those books. =]

Jayne said...

I'm looking forward to reading Jessica's book. Haven't heard of Susan but I'm going to look into her story.

You are a force! Good for you for getting your neighborhood to rally for Halloween. I'll bet you've got a whole new fan base. You know, now, right?, that people are going to come to you to organize all the local events... Especially the kids! ;)

Anne Gallagher said...

Kudo's to you for sharing Halloween. That's so sweet.

And Jessica and Susan's books sound really great. Both are on my TBR list.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

What a great story about keeping an open mind! I love how you tried, even though it was #awkward. So often the awkward stops people from extending that hand and trying. Good on you!

And thanks for helping spread the word about Open Minds! :)

Slamdunk said...

Congrats to Jessica and Susan. I hope the experience exceeds their expectations.

DL Hammons said...

Great story and a wonderful lesson for your kids about traditions and the value of keeping an open mind! Way to go Mom!! :)

mshatch said...

really great story! Have you ever thought of gathering up all these stories of life in France?

Cynthia Lee said...

Love that story. You deserve many points for upholding our Halloween traditions abroad. ;)

Matthew MacNish said...

I think you title rocks and good for you for featuring two awesome books at once!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

That is an awesome story, Katie! I am so impressed that you were willing to do all of that for the kids in your neighborhood. What a great mom! :-)

Kate said...

I've just come back from my first ever trip to America and I think I understand now why you find us Europeans so weird!

I was really surprised at what a big deal Halloween is over there!

Still, I like my Guy Fawkwes night and come Saturday I'll be standing in a muddy field with a handful of sparklers watching a load of fireworks and an effigy of David Cameron burning on top of a bonfire :-)

Karen Peterson said...

That is such a great story! I love that she ended up joining in on the fun.

Karen Peterson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Pauling said...

I love hearing your stories about living in the French culture! I can understand wanting your children to grow up with some American experiences!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

How awesome that you were able to Open a mind! And always interesting to see how we are perceived across the ocean ...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're educating the French one person at a time! Cool that so many were willing to participate though.

Nancy Thompson said...

You'd think a predominantly Catholic country would embrace the Catholic tradition of All Hallow's Eve. I laugh when people make comments about it being evil and sinister when it's really all about celebrating the day before All Soul's (Saint's) Day when everyone had to be somber and reflect on their dead relatives. Some people are so disconnected from their own history.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wow, that took bravery going door to door like that! I'm glad you and the kids had fun. :)

Amy

Ashley said...

Great story!

LTM said...

Excellent post about opening someones mind! Clever girl. And I'm glad you're keepin it rill across the pond. :D Happy Halloween! <3

REINHARDT! said...

Lady, you are awesome. I love the Frenchies, but sometimes they can be a little too wary of things they don't know about. Opening minds is the most important thing anyone can do for others.

Jessica Salyer said...

That was a wonderful story to hear. Think of all the wonderful memories and such a different experience you have given those children.

Jamie Brook Thompson said...

Hey Creepy! New follower here! You are too cute! I love reading your blog!
Jamie

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Hi Katie, back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. String Bridge keeps popping up in blogs this morning, I have never read Jessica Bell but am beginning to wonder if I should. :)

salarsenッ said...

I love this story! Proud of your resilience. :) Nicely done.

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