So this year, I've inherited a box of Halloween decorations from an expat who left this summer thus adding to my eclectic collection of random Halloween decorations. Most of them I've either pilfered from hotels or bought at Carrefour, a French supermarket chain, and Holiday House, a holiday supply store here in Shanghai that happens to sell really cheap crap that isn't even good enough to export to the US for twice as much as what Walmart is charging. But Halloween is big around our house and it's the one (*gasp*) "American" holiday we really celebrate here. Thanksgiving goes by unheeded (no one's off school or work...) and we're not usually here on Independence Day. So Halloween is my contribution of my home culture to my new culture here in Shanghai.
Our routine goes like this: my son starts asking me if Halloween is coming soon around June 3. We begin planning our costumes which have to be scary (we are traditionalists), though technically my Viking costume last year was only scary to my son who forbade me to ever wear the wig again. We load up on candy when we're home in the summer and then we wait until the minimal cheap junk comes out in Shanghai and we overstock on plastic orange jack-o-lanterns because you can't have enough. We then invite my son's classmates who range in home-countries from China to India, Australia to Canada and have way too many kids and parents crowd into our house. We forewarn and pre-distribute trick-or-treats to our Chinese neighbors who delight in - or at least tolerate - a mob of kids shouting for candy. Everyone goes home happy.
My son then wants to know if Christmas is next weekend.
Photo: the decorations avail themselves at the local Carreofur. © 2011 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.