Holidays in France were a different story.
They made the distance feel farther, in a way. Always an extra strangeness of custom, of noticing family was not there (except over Christmas, we had a large crowd), and the difference in climate making it feel a bit surreal. Halloween came just as we were getting used to our house and rhythm.
But before I describe Halloween in particular, a quick update on the preparations to leave: we’ve gone backwards in preparedness, our house is no longer rented. Groan. We had an arrangement with a family from BC but she finds herself suddenly pregnant -a total surprise, with two older kids and no partner – and plans to stay with her support network. So I am back to trying to rent out the house.
When Halloween came around we didn’t know anyone too well yet or have much idea what happened. We were told kids went trick or treating in town, from store to store. So we rustled up some admittedly not very inspired costumes (the youngest wore her Hello Kitty PJs and drew a cat mask on a paper plate) and had a little fun before heading into town (2 km away) by trying bobbing for apples. The kids all agreed it was surprisingly tricky. Lots of bobbing, no success.
Next we headed to Thuir, and looked around from the central water wheel ball on the Place de la Republique. No one was out though it was prime time for ghosts and goblins back in Canada.
So we hung around for a while until we saw some children going in and out of the shops. And our three started trooping in and out as well. I hung back somewhat embarrassed but the shopkeepers cheerfully handed out, almost exclusively, hard boiled sweets, and in the case of the sweets and pastry shop, homemade marshmallows. Up and down the main drag we went… and then, that was it! Home with their little bags of boiled sweets.
Much less of a dramatic evening than at home, and a lot less sugar to consume in the coming days. Which was fine by me! The next year at home however, I found myself really enjoying the thrill with the kids and appreciating the neighbourhood sense of community as the wind blew and brown leaves swirled. Overdone North American holiday? Maybe; but fun? Tons!