For us Italians, Halloween is nothing but a monstrous carnival version. Vampire costume instead of Harlequin, witch make up instead of princess, candy sweets are eaten instead of chatter and pancakes, the game is soon done.
But for the American community, Halloween is a serious business. Apart from the evening of October 31st, it’s all the excitement and preparation in the days before that I like. I believe it is linked to the memory of childhood that everyone carries within. For example, my favourite holiday is the day of the dead. Not for the meaning itself that of course is a bit sad, but for the child Maura.
It was cold once in Italy (very cold, not like nowadays!) The 1st of November we waited until sunset to go to the cemetery because my dad found it much more impressionable. The fog among the graves lit by a thousand candles, the pungent smell of flowers, the people who walked silently among the statues of the Monumental cemetery of Legnano, the hot breath that made clouds of smoke in the frozen air. And then the fair and the rides, the scary ones of course. The bewitched castle and the roller coasters! We used to wear our woollen gloves and a ski mask so as not to freeze our hands and face but did not prevent our eyes from producing a trail of icy tears on our cheek. And then the sausages and sauerkraut sandwich with a lot of mustard eaten standing with legs apart and the torso bent forward so as not to smudge the coats (once we had coats, not jackets). The greasy pancake, the chocolate nougat always bought only at the counter of the Diavolo del Torrone, the goldfish won every year for us by my dad who threw coloured balls in jugs full of water to infinity, until they gave us the fish. In short, the smell of fried sugar mixed with the fog, the cold, the blinding lights, the lasers, the cars clash, the Yobbos, the chestnuts, the sirens of the rides, the screams, the deafening music, the mothers who slipped the stroller on your knees. Everything reminds me of the joy and excitement of the day and makes me happy and nostalgic.
This is why I don’t get Halloween: I miss the memory of childhood. I find no connection with my life and this American celebration. But we live in Asia for a long time and willy-nilly girls are exposed to different holidays and I feel compelled to help them build some happy memory, even if I do not understand it.
So I find myself sipping unlikely sweet pumpkin drinks, a hot chocolate drink with floating marshmallows, carving giant lantern-shaped pumpkins (pulling endless blasphemies in my head every two seconds but smiling happily out). On the door there are spiderwebs, skeletons and ghosts, the nails are painted black, on television we watch Hotel Transylvania 1, 2 and 3 repeating until forever.
Know that every time I think of pumpkin I imagine giant ravioli drowned in melted cheese and butter, not the pureed pumpkin to drink …mah.
Not enough all this, the school wants us to make various creative activities with our children to build something together, to strengthen the bond with them, to share a happy moment and create family memories. God save me!
Emma must design and make her own Halloween costume, which should not be too scary and must not have blood or weapons or violent things that seems a joke said by a nation that has more weapons than people. Trick or treat in fact. So here is our beautiful masterpiece, a “crime scene” costume in front and back where the murder weapon has been cellophaned to keep a low profile and where the victim does not lose blood. She died like this, smiling, probably for a stomach ache due to a surplus of sweets and crap food, a glycemic peak, lack of sleep, ankle sprain, a stroke. Perhaps an internal bleeding. Blood is inside: is there but it cannot be seen.
Nene must decorate a giant pumpkin and transform it, like the Fairy Godmother did before, from vegetable to her favourite book’s character, which is not a simple story of Gianni Rodari but the most complicated Green Ham and Eggs of Dr. Seuss. I only tell you that I burned my fingers with hot glue a dozen times and that the gun that shoots I would put in some bad place in someone’s body … ah no, I’m a happy mother and I love to do the art and craft.
“Damn I burned myself, wait until I put some cream on my fingers and I’ll be right back to glue the ears of Sam-I-am with joy and good behavior”.
Finally October 31st arrived. After school parties we can go around ringing neighbors’ bells and eat sweets filled with dyes, refined sugars and preservatives. Luckily I live among the Americans who will eat tons of crap, but they dress up in a wonderful way, they know how to have fun and how to decorate the houses that even a Hollywood film set wouldn’t do better.
Happy Halloween! Have sweet dreams and I recommend, brush your teeth!