Redefining holidays

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I'm discovering during this first year of living abroad, that the holidays and how they are or aren't celebrated here will contribute to the most difficult part of my transition. Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, and it's not one that I think I'll miss celebrating, yet it feels somewhat odd for a year to pass without carving a pumpkin and handing out candy to eager trick-or-treaters. It's cool to see all the costumes that my friends and family back home donned for the holiday, but I can't say that I was overly nostalgic over missing out on the typical festivities. Maybe it's because costume parties are a little more of the norm here (well, in our circle of friends, anyway), or perhaps I simply don't appreciate the fun in dressing up in costume as much as I did when I was younger.

As a kid, I can't recall if I loved dressing up for Halloween, but I do remember that I loved to pretend I was a witch - specifically, the wicked witch of the West. Blame it on my mom's (and consequently, my) obsession with the Wizard of Oz, which I can still recite verbatim from beginning to end. I think I always felt like I resembled the green-faced, black-haired villain, who many of us now endearingly call Elphaba. I've never felt so comfortable in pretending to be someone else as I did when I was a witch. Reflecting on this now makes me wonder if there's an underlying psychological reason for that. Hmmm.

This Halloween, there wasn't a witch in sight. In fact, besides a few random youngsters dressed as zombies and dead clowns, hardly anyone seemed to notice it was Halloween night. (Did I just use the word youngsters?!) I didn't even see one packet of fun-size M&Ms, Skittles or Tootsie-pops. Instead of handing out candy to ghosts and ballerinas, Emily and I caught an early evening showing of Mamma Mia, which I happened to score free tickets to from Gui's dad. It was such a great movie. Normally, I cringe during musicals; everything's so happy and smiley and terribly contrived. Call me uncultured, but there's something that makes me feel awkward when I'm watching a movie and the cast bursts out in song and dance mid-sentence. But, this movie really changed my mind about all that. After the first episode of random song and dance, an overwhelming feeling of happiness came over me and I started singing along. I knew about half of the songs they sang and after the movie ended, Emily and I were talking about downloading the soundtrack (or digging up mom's old Abba albums). It's one of those movies that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven't.

We ended the night discussing the next un-celebrated holiday (Thanksgiving) over frozen margaritas and a delicious platter of fried, Tex-Mex finger-foods. Unlike Halloween, Thanksgiving is a holiday that, for me, I expect will be difficult to replicate or forget. The one year I spent Thanksgiving away from home, I found some comfort in familiar foods at the Texas Embassy, but the rest of the year still felt slightly askew. That November holiday is the one day when I can expect to see cousins, aunts, uncles and friends that I otherwise rarely see during the course of the year. My dad has nine siblings and my mom, eight, so seeing all of my extended family is nearly an impossible task. Thanksgiving is usually the day when my relatives near and far get together to reminisce over one crazy big meal. Not everyone shows up, but I find that each year I see someone I haven't seen in ages, and catching up on the time in between is what Thanksgiving is all about for me.

This year, although I don't expect to see any long-lost family members, I'm looking forward to celebrating the holiday like I never have before, and that makes me super excited. I feel like it's time for me to start new traditions with my family and friends here, all of who I'm grateful to know and spend time with. This year, Gui and I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner chez nous, so I'm a little worried about how everything will turn out (man, I hope I don't burn the turkey). But I guess new traditions have to start somewhere...

The stuffed jalapeños reminded me of the ones from Sonic (delish) and the onion rings were surprisingly good!

This picture reminded me of my dad...

...and so did this sombrero.

A strong frozen margarita makes a happy Emily.


Candy said...

1. i have a pic of you dressed as a witch somewhere...i'll have to dig it out and post!

2. i LOVE that mom instilled the value of The Wizard of Oz within us all and that we can all recite the words and music verbatim! What a cool family tradition.

3. sad i missed mama just left kansas city last month!

4. mmmm...that food looks yum! sonic onion rings remind me of when i was preggo w/ n8..i ate them weekly!

5. thanksgiving will be great! you and gui will do great with the food and we'll talk to you on the phone i am sure! :)

love you bunches!

Jennie said...

I am so hungry right now and that tex-mex food looks amazing!! I want!!

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