From the beginning, Christmas was on my radar…
I knew that living overseas, far from family, friends, the comforts and traditions of home, might be difficult.
I have investigated Christmasy events and places to visit. I’ve talked to Kiwi friends about what they do to celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere. I’ve started my gift list for the kids. And James and I have both talked with the kids about the ways this year’s holidays will be different than what we’re used to.
What I had not given as much thought to was Halloween. My kids’ beloved Halloween.
I found lots of evidence (mostly in absences) that New Zealanders have not embraced Halloween. Certainly not to the degree that Americans have; I just read today that Americans will spend more than $350 MILLION DOLLARS on pet costumes for Halloween!
Compare this to the uber-modest “autumn” display at our New Zealand grocery store, with no more than 10 varieties of candies, and it’s clear that Halloween, with its harvest and candy-hording themes, just doesn’t translate to Aotearoa. A couple people I talked to confirmed that trick-or-treating is not much of a thing here, with only a small percentage of neighbors participating in the candy dispersal.
So when the kids had their costumes on–Ev a vampire, Char an impressionistic pumpkin, and Cal a bat skeleton–I had my doubts about whether we would return to our home with sadly empty bags.
Imagine my surprise and delight when, at the end of our driveway, an older woman accompanied by three trick or treaters emerged from the house next door approached me. I couldn’t understand exactly what she meant as she started talking about trick or treat plans… but it dawned on me as we chatted for a minute that she was inviting us to go along with her group.
She explained that she wanted to take her three granddaughters out trick or treating, so she asked a handful of her bowling teammates if they’d help out. She bought a bunch of “lollies” (NZ for candies, not just lollipops) and distributed them to several friends and asked, “Would you like to just follow us from house to house so the kids can trick or treat?”
It’s a Halloween miracle!
We visited four houses, driving from one to the next, and at each one a spry older lady judiciously handed out candies and sweets. It was funny to see how proud the grandmother (who I came to think of as a Halloween pied piper) was of her granddaughters. At the end of each introduction, she gestured toward my kids, saying, “…And these are our neighbors, who are from the states.”
I was ecstatic, because I had prepared myself that I might have some devastated kinder at the end of the night!
We walked up and down one more residential street before calling the night and returning home, triumphant.
It was so much better than I had expected, mostly because of the kindness of our neighbor and a few Halloween-loving kiwis!