It’s 82 degrees! It can’t be Halloween. The familiar voice inside my head kept pointing out all the differences between the experience of this Halloween versus Halloween past. My memory was cloaked in images of blustery fall days, sometimes driving rain, and cozy pots of soup and cups of cider.
As I sifted through the costumes at the Oahu Target with my kids, I felt like I was going through the motions but not really feeling the holiday spirit. It was hot outside, we were in tank tops and flip flops, yet we were knee-deep in fall festivities.
It dawned on me in the middle of this costume bonanza that this is our third Halloween on the road since leaving on this journey. As I looked at my daughter digging with delight through princess and angel costumes, I realized she has no memory of trick or treating because she was only four-years-old last time we were in the USA for Halloween.
My energy shifted, standing in the middle of that fall frenzy from one of resistance to one of celebration. We are on this journey to experience each day together and to see new landscapes. Yes, Halloween is familiar but Halloween in Hawaii is not. I decided to start research on the best place to trick or treat for a true American Halloween experience and ended up in a dreamlike experience that changed my perceptions of Halloween forever.
We spent our first Halloween on the road in the Molise Region of Southern Italy. Last year we were in Tuscany. Both experiences gave us time to reflect on what we appreciate about American traditions and also the importance those traditions have or don’t have in other parts of the world.
This year we were ventured to Laie, Hawaii on Oahu’s North Shore. It is a town of just over 6,000 people built around the Mormon Hawaiian Temple and the BYU Hawaii campus. This small town leaves a big impression and that is because of the people that make the community vibrant in a visceral way.
It was ALL about the kids. I have never seen so many kids of all ages celebrating, surrounded by a community of support. There is no door knocking or bell ringing as the weather brings everyone out into their driveways and yards. Tents and mazes are set up and families gather and give out candy, eat dinner, barbecue and scare each other! If you need to use the bathroom, the door is open. If you need a drink of water, no problem. The music pumping and lights flashing invited us down the street after street for hours. It felt good just to be a part of it all. We only stopped when my daughter buckled under the weight of her pillowcase full of candy.
It was an all-American Halloween that looked nothing like the crisp fall days from my past, teaching me once again, that our perceptions are shaped by our experience. The more all-American experiences I have, the more I realize there is no such thing. Yes, we are all Americans but what that means to each of us is something profoundly different. That is what makes this country special. That is something to celebrate.