Hide all the black cats ..
I sort of made my way home slower ,hoping not to have to answer the door handing out small red apples as a treat.
It seemed a good idea at the time,the trick n treater population in Switzerland is limited anyhow but word gets around and suddenly the black sheep in me had second thoughts about being the least popular door.
Halloween became a big hit in Switzerland when my children were young enough to enjoy the candy although i did mention jews had “simchat torah”,the last of the high holidays when the men dance around holding the torah and the children walk around holding bags as the members of the congregation fills the bags with candy.
The mainstream Jewish community we belonged to decided one year that candy is unhealthy, and had distributed books instead …that did not go well with my children and so one year we decided to join the more friendly of the orthodox communities for the night of simchat torah , dressed accordingly;,my daughter and i in long skirts and the boys in skullcaps and festive clothing .It felt oddly enough like trick n treating..the men dance around seven times and every round a rain of kosher candy gets thrown to the children carrying large empty nylon bags by the men or women sitting at the back rows, overlooking the feativities.
That year my children fell asleep happy on top of mountains of candy i recalled from American halloween days.
The next day the treasures of candy had to be confiscated for fear of over indulging in candy leading to tummy aches and dentist visits.
I tried to raise my children the way i was raised by my kindergarden teacher mother ;healthy ,which meant no candy except on special occasions,holidays and birthdays.
Raisins,fruit and healthy wholewheat snacks were white sugar substitutes.
There were plenty of children’s birthday parties and almost everyone invited everyone so there were hardly any candyfree months but nothing matched the simchat Torah at the orthodox community that year..
As my children befriended the neighberhood children,halloween took over and being a worrying type i dressed up our family dog as a bat ,using a dress up kit the kids outgrew,and trailed behind them to make sure they were safe.
I remembered my first halloween in America as a nine year old child unfamiliar with the customs and costums.
My mother did not believe in over investing and as a talented improvisor ,my mother used a white sheet to turn me to a ghost.
A good thing no one recognized me beneath the sheet too, since it was a lousy dress up compared to the sparkeling store bought dress up kits other kids in the neighberhood had fashioned but by the age of nine i was already used to standing out in my knitted fashion or in scottish attire my mother adored disregarding contemporary fashion styles from JC Penny or whatever was considered “in”by American midwest elementary school aged children.
The scariest halloween i recall as a child was my first and last one in NYC after we moved there on my 11 th summer.There were rumors of shaving blades in candy placed by psychopaths but fortunately for me we moved to a tall skyscraper with many floors which meant all i had to do was get in the elevator and push the buttons,my father lurking as a shadow behind me..
I think i wore a cat’s mask that year,and the bounty was plentiful,between my older brother and i we had candy to last us a long long time.
Tonight i kept looking for little trick n treaters walking about collecting candy in little plastic pumpkin pails but the streets were deserted.
The Swiss children celebrate a similar holiday where they carve a turnip in artistic patterns,place a candle in its empty carved inner part and walk around in parades carrying lights on ice cold nights.
One year my son’s kindergarden teacher had us walk through cemeteries,i had my youngest ,a baby in a buggy that year ,and wanted desparately to get out of walking through cemeteries on account of religious reasons,which ,without consulting a rabbi,made sense to avoid but not wanting my son to feel left out i jumped through cemeteries pushing the buggy as the kindergarden teacher,a tall overly enthusiastic Italian swiss man,led the parade roaring Swiss songs.It might sound like fun but i was missing a connection ,a link ,to my own childhood memories,and so my youngest son attended the kindergarden at the Jewish community center,not walking in a parade through cemeteries but dressing up in Purim holiday and craving candy in birthday parties (the children of a dentist had the best candy filled birthday give aways for some reason)
Till one year Halloween reached Switzerland and the dog and i had to trail after my children seeking candy from progressive Swiss homes…
Tonight the streets were empty,an odd woman walked behind me mummbling to herself.
It was time to watch “Addams family values “film,based on the beloved tv series i used to follow as a child too often abandoned with a tv as a sitter.
Every night it is halloween at the Addams familt house,unclean,dusty and full of spider nets ,it felt familiar,my mother was not cut out to be a house wife and neither am i,and so i watch fondly my spider community at home,as i write these lines.
Happy Halloween to those celebrating or remembering or enjoying the concept!
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