This article first appeared on MilitaryOneClick
I’m a stick in the mud when it comes to Halloween, or at least, I was. I like seeing kids dressed up and having fun, but I am morally opposed to the begging for candy with no thank yous, and I think adults wearing costumes are ridiculous. So, call me a grouch, but I was pretty set in my ways… Until our most recent move overseas.
We’ve lived in upwards of 10 different neighborhoods for Halloween over the years; home is where the Navy sends us, after all, and this really is the first time, since I was a kid myself, that I’ve enjoyed Halloween. As representatives of the United States abroad, it fell upon us to put on a good show for all of our host country and international community friends. That means decorating the house, inside and out, for all the neighborhood to see.
I’m a pumpkin and scarecrow kind of person when it comes to decorating, but my boys now like the scary stuff. I fought it for a while, but let my desire to make them happy win over my personal preferences during a holiday I don’t care for anyway. As a parent, I want to make Halloween fun for our boys, and I want to decorate to represent a fun American tradition. Since we decorated two weeks ago, I’ve spotted dozens of locals photographing our yard. (This being a tropical location, I had to take everything down in preparation for yet another typhoon that passed through the area, and then redecorate a week later.)
As representatives of the United States abroad, it fell upon us to put on a good show for all of our host country and international community friends. That means decorating the house, inside and out, for all the neighborhood to see.
Our neighborhood is a cluster of 20 houses of American families, so it’s the go-to trick-or-treating destination for everyone in town; expats and locals alike. We stock up on candy by ordering from home, and unlike in the US, where we gave a small handful to each trick-or-treater, we are careful to only dole out one piece per child, lest we run out before the last of the 1000+ children rings our bell. I am not exaggerating. Last year, we had at least 1200 pieces of candy ready to go at 5:30 and by 8:30, it was gone. Every. Last. lollipop.
The thing is, almost every kid, from the toddlers to the teens, wore costumes on their bodies and smiles on their faces. They were polite, and it was clear they were just happy to be taking part in this fun, American, tradition.
So, as Americans serving our country abroad, I take it as our responsibility to represent the best that America has to offer. Let’s face it, the USA gets a bad rap sometimes, so if we can leave a good impression in the minds of people from all over the world, I want to seize the opportunity and have fun while doing it.
It takes a lot of effort and preparation. I started ordering Halloween decorations and candy in August. Horatio just returned from a two week trip back to the US and brought back decorations, costumes and more candy packed in his suitcases. We are having two parties, one on Friday night for 50+ of Horatio’s international colleagues and their children, and a more casual one on Saturday night during the trick-or-treat fest.
As I said, to say I am not a fan of adults dressing up in costume would be an understatement of my disdain for the practice. Horatio, though, insists that since it is our house, our party and our representation of the tradition, we are obligated to wear costumes. I compromised and agreed to a witch’s hat, and I’ll smile while I wear it.
America is great. We are proud to serve as representatives abroad. Halloween is just one way we can show a fun face of America, and I’m happy to do it. On Sunday we will rest and recover from the celebrating, and on Monday I will move on to planning our international Thanksgiving.