Happy Halloween!

One of the iconic American holidays I miss most here in Beirut is Halloween. Growing up, the day meant costume competitions at school, plastic Jack-O-Lantern buckets brimming with candy, and of course, eerie music for the occasion. Our teachers, too, would dress up in classic witch outfits, parade around campus with us as we strutted our festive garb, and throw a classroom party complete with black-and-orange cupcakes and a cauldron of black punch for drinking. Though my costumes were terribly unoriginal and sometimes unrecognizable--my ninja suit one year puzzled a lot of neighbors--the day always found me animated.

My father would buy a pumpkin in mid-October, and together we'd sketch an ominous face using a Sharpie pen, incise along the markings, and then hollow out the pumpkin from the mush and seeds it contained. My mother would hang Halloween-inspired masks with streamers on the front porch to greet trick-or-treaters making their rounds. And eagerly we'd beckon the dusk, precisely at the sun's setting, to take to the neighborhood street. Assuredly, we'd be the first kids on the block, our giant pillow cases in tote, and our faces grinning widely in anticipation of the wonderful cavity-causing treats that awaited us. Mom chaperoned us from a friendly distance as we braved each drive way leading to front doors, avoiding homes where the lights were off so as not to consume time or breath. After about an hour in this fashion, we'd head home for a pit-stop to unload our loot, revel in the generous king-size candy bars or, once in a while, creepy plastic gloves stuffed with candy corn and popcorn, and quickly swap for favorites. Within minutes, we'd be back in mission-mode, dragging Dad along as Mom stayed behind to pass out candy. A few hours thus and we'd be wiped out, setting sail for home. Mom permitted us a few candy pieces each and then heaped up the mountains of candy in a big bag to ration in our sack lunches over the next month or so.

Photo credit: theofficesupplyblog.com

I think this tradition ended for me in middle school, but the charm of the holiday only intensified as I grew older. My nostalgia especially swelled when I moved away to Boston, settled into graduate housing, and became a stranger to the typical neighborhood setting. The Halloween-themed coffee hours and dorm soirees were cute, especially for the more adult treats like pumpkin bread pudding, fancy cupcakes, and cider, but I longed for my childhood trick-or-treating days. And while New England seemed carved out for Halloween--the fallen leaves, chilly autumn nights, and black cats everywhere--I knew those days were behind me.

I suppose the one consolation I have once Halloween has passed, besides the mounds of candy to polish off--now I just buy my own!--is my birthday the very next day! Good deal, no?

Happy Halloween!

Mimi's Cupcakery. Dekweneh, Lebanon.


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