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.