Every day for the past three weeks, Crumpet has excitedly announced, "It's nearly Halloween! We're going to America!" Indeed, I am writing this post from the other side of the pond, and the day she has been waiting for has finally arrived. The pumpkin has been carved, the costumes are ready for an evening of trick-or-treating (in the very neighborhood where I trick or treated as a child), and I have It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on stand-by to calm her down after the inevitable sugar rush.
Halloween is BIG in America. As far as holidays go, I would rank it second only to Christmas. Yes, Thanksgiving is important -- and uniquely American -- but it's really just one day (two, if you count Black Friday, which is really more of a prelude to Christmas anyway). There isn't as much preparation and excitement involved in the lead-up to Thanksgiving as there is with Halloween. And you don't really see too many people decorating their houses or shops with turkeys or pilgrims and Indians.
In the six years I've lived in the U.K., Halloween has become more and more popular, with the supermarkets capitalizing on its success in America. Every year, I've taken Crumpet to pick out a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch and she and her daddy have fun carving it into a jack-o-lantern to display on Halloween night. Several of the houses on our street have even gotten into the holiday spirit, and last year Crumpet came back with quite a big haul (for a three-year-old, at least) after her little trick-or-treating mission.
But no one does Halloween like America. And that's why I am so exicted to be back in North Carolina so that Crumpet and Cupcake can experience it like I did when I was a kid. Grandma has enjoyed decorating her house with all of the little Halloween knicknacks she's picked up over the years in anticipation of our visit, and Crumpet has enjoyed finding little "ghosties" and witches and bats hidden here and there. She has already made Halloween cookies and Jell-O jigglers with Grandma, and this morning she carved her pumpkin with her grandpa. We had pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and Grandma made one into a little jack-o-lantern for Crumpet. This evening she'll put on her witch costume (Cupcake will wear the same pea pod costume that her big sister wore for her first Halloween), and we'll set off in search of spooktacular goodies with the other vampires, monsters, and mummies who will be at large.
I think it's so important for children of dual nationalities to experience holidays and traditions that are unique and special to both cultures. Which is why I didn't feel guilty pulling her out of nursery school for two weeks to make this trip. She'll be in "big school" next year, so this is really the last opportunity we have to visit outside of the major tourist seasons. Cupcake won't remember her first Halloween in America (at least I'll have the pictures to prove she was here), but Crumpet is at an age where she understands what holidays are about, so hopefully one day she'll look back fondly on her first America-style trick-or-treating experience.