a halloween in stockholm with burned brownies and paper ghosts

My daughter wanted a big Halloween. For whatever reason, she totally got it this year – the spooky ghosts, the witches, the pumpkins. She asked every day for the whole week, Is it Halloween yet?

In Sweden, Halloween occupies an awkward middle ground – it’s known and especially teens and young adults do the whole edgy party thing. My kids’ daycare did a mascarade day like a month ago, with a circus theme. But there is no trick or treating, no little kid party.

So we invited a friend over for NK to craft with. We made a jack o’ lantern and cut out bats and spiders and ghosts for the wall.

Then I tried to make vegan brownies from scratch. An hour later, I slid a huge hockey puck into the trash and we regrouped with apple oatmeal cookies. My baking technique comes directly from The Backyardigans “Samurai Pie” episode, a Zen coming together with the ingredients, under the watchful “no-mind” eye of two toddlers.

But the brownies, they also bring to mind a Samurai Pie quote. “You call that a pie? I call it a hockey puck. Try again.”

If I’m going to force the daddy/masculinity angle, it is this: being an expat makes me own American holidays. My wife actually bought the crafts, cut the spider and bats and invited over the friend. My mother sent the box of Halloween stuff that got this all started. But I was a third pillar, so to speak, and not just finding Halloween cartoons on the computer. I carved the pumpkin – never done that before – made the ghost, baked the “brownies” and the cookies and entertained the friend and her mother until E got home and generally kept the Halloween spirit up, something I doubt I would have done in the flow of my alternate American life where I work a lot and, while not refusing to do holiday things – would almost never volunteer, too caught up in something or other, too exhausted on some level.

Again, I’m so much happier this way, getting chased by my 21-month-old son as he yells Booo! and chases me around the apartment.


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