My Friend Donna Wins At Halloween. You’ll Never Guess Where She’s From…

Donna aka Carrie

This is my friend Donna, she wins at Halloween. Every year.

For the last few years I’ve noticed a trend in Australian news. On about October 1st each year the same old story makes the rounds.

Should Australia be celebrating Halloween?

While quite a few friends in Oz posted/talked of how they enjoyed Halloween, I couldn’t help but giggle my way through the naysayers indignation “I just don’t want them to come to my house” said a woman on morning television. I wondered who was coming to her house? Were the children armed? Diseased? Predictably a few people wrote that Halloween was un-Australian, someone even started a Facebook page (because that will stop Halloween for sure).

And then there’s always this “what’s to celebrate, it’s just a bunch of kids arriving for free chocolate and what for? What does it mean? Nothing!” Australians are of course renowned for looking for the meaning of life with their celebrations – just take a look at the beer snake record broken at the cricket last year. Symbolic and full of meaning.

Years ago, after arriving in Jakarta, we were invited to a Halloween party. I’d never experienced Halloween and wasn’t sure of the expectation for the evening, I felt the need to explain why I was clueless to our American host “We don’t really do Halloween in Australia”. The feeling in the room changed immediately. She gave me a look of concern, was I perhaps a follower of an alternate religion or a creature from Mars?

“What do you mean?” she was genuinely baffled.

“We don’t do Halloween in Australia, it doesn’t exist.”

“Are you serious? Oh my god you poor thing? Do they let you have Christmas?”

I suggested she may have been overreacting.

“But Halloween is the best holiday when you’re a kid?!”

A few years later when we joined suburbia in North America, it all became clear. For a kid, this was definitely the celebration you didn’t miss. In the week before Halloween the neighbours began to work on their decorations. Leaves were swept into halloween bags, tombstones placed in the front yard and witches hung from doorways. Pumpkin displays hit the supermarket and carving kits were sold at $2 shops. The little travellers talked non stop about costumes and parties, and teachers read stories of witches on broomsticks. Games were created, and field trips to pumpkin farms were had, and finally the big day arrived. G and a few of the Dads in our cul-de-sac set off with a little red wagon loaded with small children (and a few cheeky beers), the bigger kids skipped ahead of them while I stayed at home waiting to see what would arrive at the door.

Each time the doorbell rang I’d find myself waving in the distance at fellow neighbours in the snow at the end of our driveway. I met the people who lived in the street behind us, and saw familiar faces of kids from school and matched them to parents I’d seen at the supermarket. As gorgeous as the multitude of fairies and ghoulish toddlers were that evening, the best surprise was the teenage girl who arrived dressed as a Christmas tree asking if I had a power outlet she could plug herself into. I laughed hysterically as her Christmas lights flickered, handing over two handfuls of well deserved treats. At the end of the night after G had returned we sat down with a few of the neighbours for a drink and a recap of evening.

“Did you see the Dad who was Darth Vader and his Luke Skywalker twins?”

“Did you see the three girls who came as a sandwich?”

“How freaky was the kid in the scream mask when he made the blood come out of his mouth?”

We all agreed the Christmas Tree girl stole the show. She’d asked for a power outlet at every house she’d been too, lighting up every one of our faces in the process.

My neighbour Bonnie has become legendary in our little neighborhood/compound here in Doha. Each year she returns from her summer break in Canada with a few extra goodies for her display. Without fail the appearance of the ladder at her front door will entice squeals from the Little Travellers, Bonnie’s about to decorate. They watch as each cobweb make its way across the front of the house, and give me hourly progress reports. The men with the pumpkin heads, the witch’s fingers in the bowl, the tombstones and the scary guy at the front door. “Can you believe we get to live next door to Bonnie? She’s so cool” said the fourth little traveller last week.

And she is.

There’s not a kid on our compound that won’t remember Bonnie’s house, and I have no doubt that my children will tell their friends for years about the really cool lady who lived next door and had the best Halloween decorations.

My friend Donna is Australian. Did I mention she wins at Halloween every year?

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