With Halloween around the corner, I am just as ready with my contribution of chocolates for the neighbourhood kids, who, of all ages from the three year olds right up to the teens, without fail, every year, donning queer costumes and masking or painting their faces guised into a frightening, grotesque creature like a ghost, goblin, witch, dracula or a ghoul, turn up at our doorstep, carrying figurines of pumpkin lanterns, daggers, wands etc. and of course, needless to mention, a carrier bag to stockpile the treats.
Well, it’s hard to send off these cute little devils without the goodies that they come in for. The UAE being a classic point where the east meets the west, this is quite a customary affair here and though it’s not my faith, I enjoy the giving part of this occasion, just to see the happy faces of the children. Moreover, what adds to this is the fact that the members of this confectionary cult are not from any particular faith…they are just “a group of children who are out to make the maximum of the eve”. Also it goes that, for me, the tradition began at a time when I myself was on my way to motherhood.
To the unfamiliar, Halloween is a religious festival of the west, for veneration of the dead and other faithful departed. Reverence to ancestors and saints is an important component of almost every culture though prevalent under different names and Halloween just marks one of them.
Halloween, in many parts of the UAE, is also celebrated as a commercial and a secular event and quite common among closed circles or communities where, Halloween parties, rolled out with as much ado, are definitely the flavour of the season that deftly find their way into the leisure charts. These parties are spiced up with the performances of the young and old on themes such as the midnight freak shows, horror nights, bizarre costume contests, haunted dance parties, sinister concerts / brunch etc. Decorations with spooktacular and devilish ideas can be witnessed as coming to the fore, all across the city, especially at commercial places and malls, the high point of the eve being kids and adults busying themselves into planning their hair-raising costumes and orchestrating their acts. While most of the city remains actively engaged at it’s creative best and happily engrossed in relishment of the thrills, for businesses, elevating their sale of chocolates, pumpkins, ghost lanterns, creep costumes, party supplies etc, besides the hotels offering halloween packages promising a variety of entertainment themes, become the USP of the season.
Our first encounter of opening the door to a bunch of spooks shouting “Chocolates….it’s Halloween”, was pleasantly, an unsuspected surprise, as being new to the place, we were neither aware nor really prepared for this convention. But chocolates always have been a part of our household and thus, with apologies to the kids for being unequipped, we were only happy to gave away whatever was handy, though, it was not, by any measures enough to suffice the entire lot of them…but nevertheless they were also only too glad to accept whatever they got & go way grateful. Ever since then, whenever October sets in, I have always made it a point to keep these hand-outs organised in advance.
During the previous year, we ended up purchasing an insane quantity of chocolates while also ensuring varieties, with the intent to give away as much as each one can or may want to take but what profoundly startled me was that these children knew where to stop and every one of them refused to accept anything beyond a specific limit. The outrageous bulk of resultant leftovers have now prompted me to buy anything but an inconsumable quantity, thereby avoiding the glut.
Couple of days ago, I noticed kiddo intensely browsing through adverts of various models (grown-ups and kids) in eerie costumes on the local weekly ‘Friday’ magazine. The minute she realised she was being observed, out shot her incessant questions over each one of the pics spread out on that page, especially questions that involved ‘who is this? Is this a witch?’. I attempted to explain Halloween to her in a way she could understand, when the possibility of her probable interest in joining the bandwagon and be a part of the ‘trick or treat’ assemblage of enshrouds, flashed upon me. As such, considering that children always find these things fun and fascinating, I thought it was but natural for her, if at all she wanted to take part in the celebrations since she is of an appropriate age too.
As I flipped out the question on whether she would like to get her face painted and accompany the kids, pat came the reply ‘No’ with a wide smile planted on her face. Not quite relenting and trying to push a little, I repeated the question and again got the same response, in a firm tone, ‘No, I don’t want to be a witch’ but with a giggle this time. ‘OK’, I responded, for I had got the message loud and clear that she is not interested in slipping into a negative character. Yet not giving up on an attempt to confirm my understanding, I kept insisting, ‘Well then, do you want to become a Princess ?’ “Yes, I want to be a Princess” came the affirmation again. Well then it did follow for the next couple of days that I kept popping up the question at various times but met with the same response and eventually decided to give up.
The instance however led to certain thoughts:
(1) Children`s decisions always flow from the heart and therefore the choices made by them are extremely clear and innately unpretentious, irrespective of any trend around.
(2) The gospel truth is ‘everyone prefers their own nest’ and somewhere deep inside, children are just the adults we are in their ‘younger form’ (i.e. ‘a person with their own mind’ or rather to term it more appropriately ‘a person with an honest mind’ which renders them more rooted than us adults at many places). So intervening everywhere would be akin to uprooting them when, left to themselves and with minimum intercession (i.e. on a necessity basis) their growing up can be more comfortable and better spaced out.
(3) Of whatever age our children might be, there are certainly bound to be those times, when it will be expedient upon us as parents, to get down to their level to understand their nest, accept them for what they are and allow what they want, even if these clearly don’t fall in line with our way of thinking or living.
(4) Receptivity to choices different from our own in admission of the fact that our children are individuals/entities different from us, could add a harmonious value to ourselves, besides bringing in peace and happiness to life’s moments, since the quintessential ability to look at other side of the coin is certainly not as simple as it appears, for that requires great strength at perception and integration. Albeit in this case, even if I did give her the option to choose what she wanted, she merely proved the conviction ‘like mom, like daughter’
And so hitherto it goes that I am eagerly awaiting October 31st for the other young ones to arrive and grab their treats….:-)