This is the time of year when I find myself quietly reminiscing about Halloweens gone by. As I recall fond memories of my favorite holiday I find myself not so nostalgic of the celebration as the people who joined us for all the preparations and shenanigans. To me Halloween, (or as we liked to call it, Hollyween) was about having FUN, and sharing it with all who cared to join in!
Through the years our bash grew into an event that many looked forward to participating in. What started out as my own little Hollyween party for a few friends really grew to be a yearly blow out until the last one included about 200 people! We loved it. What made our event so special to me was just seeing everyone having fun, laughing, singing, playing pool, marveling over the craziness that was our decorating and of course seeing everyone enjoying Scotts amazing food.
Scott and I used to spend countless hours strategizing about the menu, about the decorations, about how to make it all even more spectacular than the last year. He’d come up with crazy, over the top ideas for animated decorations out in the yard , the night of Halloween our sidewalk would be crowded with kids and parents laughing and taking pictures of our display. Our final bash really was our swan song. We pulled out all the stops and really had a blast that year.
Many of my dearest friends, even those more introverted friends found ways to participate even if going to a huge party wasn’t their ’thing’, they always found a way to join in the fun. I had friends who took it upon themselves to document the parties by being the official photographers for before, and during the party. Making wonderful albums for me to have and these albums are now such special reminders of those great parties. Others would come to the house and help me decorate , carving pumpkins, hanging lights, strategically placing spiders and snakes around the yard and house. Some contributed by coming early on the night of the party and helping Scott in the kitchen preparing the gigantic spread he always managed to prepare for the party. Some years Scott would actually let people bring a desert,(if you know Scott you know he doesn’t like to let people bring anything when he’s treating you to his gourmet delights!) and we had lots of contributions. Scott’s best friend J would drive all the way from Santa Cruz to contribute his fresh brewed beer from the brewery, (Scott’s favorite contribution!).
Why did I get such a kick out of Halloween? Well, I think , unlike other holidays that are filled with so much stress and obligation, Halloween is solely about having fun, laughing and being silly. There’s not any big, meaningful significance tied to Halloween, to me anyways, it was a time to let yourself be something other than what you are in real life. I like the fact that any amount of ridiculousness is accepted and wild, wacky, silliness is never looked at as strange, or unacceptable it’s all just good clean fun! I like that. No need for any pretense or agenda, just have a good time and let yourself be as foolish as you like. What the heck!
I’m glad to have such great memories of those parties and of all the fun I had with all the people in my life. How often do you get to gather everyone and just let your hair down for one wild night? I mean, I’m not normally a ‘kereokee’ kinda gal, I’d never in a million years do that in public, but at my party, with all my favorite people joining in I was the QUEEN of kereokee! hah! (well, okay, I’m maybe exaggerating, a tiny bit…but…its my party, so I get to do that!) I had a core group of friends (fellow kereokee friends, that is!) who would gladly join me in this hilarity and then there was the core group who would cheer us on as we entertained ourselves and them at the same time….what fun! Ohhhhh Kim and Dan and Theo…you know you loved it! hah! Of course Scott would be sure to be as far away from that Kereokee madness as he possibly could be! They don’t make enough alcohol to entice him to be anywhere near to me when that nonsense begins. hah!
I think my favorite time of the evening though, was early on when people started to arrive. It was always so much fun to see people in their costumes. I never laughed so hard! Often It would take me a minute to figure out who it was! Oh my goodness, people can be so creative when it comes to dressing up for Hollyween! My sweet co-workers really hated dressing up for my party, but they made me so happy by dropping their inhibitions and coming up with costumes every year! This selfless act of friendship always made my heart melt. They always ended up having a great time and seeing them enjoying something that was out of their comfort zone is yet another memory that I love to think about.
Planning, scheming, decorating, dressing up as something other than who you are, playing games, decorating, enjoying kereokee madness, cooking, decorating some more, carving twenty pumpkins with Cindy and Chris, and Kim and Dan, decorating, gathering people from every different aspect of our life for one night of fun, more cooking, and more decorating, the beginning of the evening when the guests would arrive dressed up and making my face hurt from laughing so hard, these are some of my fondest memories of Hollyweens past. But most of all what makes me nostalgic, as I’ve already said, is remembering the times, that one night every year, when all the people who we cared about came to our house and gathered together as a community to enjoy a moment with us.
Now that we’ve started a new life here in Panama we aren’t really celebrating Hollywen like we did before. And this is good with us, it really wouldn’t be the same. Panamanians do, sorta, celebrate Halloween, but not the same as we did in the States. They don’t trick or treat. They really don’t decorate their houses. But given their love of fiestas, they see the opportunity to party and they don’t miss out on any opportunity to celebrate. Just this morning I asked my workers if they celebrate Halloween, and a resounding “Si!” went through my car. Of course they said “Disco-tech!” which means there will be some sort of a reason to go to the disco tech in town and dance to some ear-piercing music. And they did say that people dress up in costumes, new word for me..”disfraz”. I’m pretty sure Halloween is not really a Panamanian tradition, but that never stopped a Panamanian from finding yet one more reason to have a party! Hah! I love these people!
We may have retired from hosting our Hollyween bash and from all the craziness we used to embrace around this holiday, but don’t you worry we’ll always find some new reason for throwing a traditional party and gathering all our friends for fun an food….Oh! Wait! We’ve already thrown three Mondongatas…! These celebrations have been mainly the focus of our workers a way to express our gratitude for all the hard work they do here for us. And according to them it is a tradition to celebrate the completion of a new roof…you see, any reason to party! haha! But, I’m pretty sure we’ll have no problem coming up with new reasons of our own to organize gatherings and share food, music, probably not Kereokee (hah, I’m pretty sure Scott found a way to conveniently misplace that kereokee machine! Drats! ) Our extravagant Hollyween parties may be a thing of the past but getting together with friends isnt something we’ll ever stop enjoying.
When I talk with friends from California I’m often asked what I miss from our former life. I must say that the first thing that always comes to mind is the people. We don’t really have a long list of things we miss from living in the States. With so many new and wonderful things we’ve found in this new home, how could we ever feel as though anything is lacking from our life now. I may reminisce and remember with fondness some things that we’ve left behind, like Holiday traditions shared with friends and family, (oh! and maybe Chinese food, Thai food, Indian food, the diversity of food in general that we had at our fingertips), but more than anything we could possible miss… we’re enjoying creating new traditions and finding new reasons to celebrate with all the great people in our life. And, isnt that what makes life so great, no matter where you find yourself living? Just enjoying each moment and embracing the memories of the moments you’ve already had.