What has brought me here today:
There’s a large part of me that is having a difficult time getting into the flow of the weather here. This seems like some sort cognitive dissonense. I think the weather should be colder. The days shorter, with less light. Almost all of the leaves should have fallen off the trees. Birds should be flying south. Frost should be on everything in the morning. And perhaps some snow should be falling as well.
Then there is all the Halloween decorations and reminders in the shops! There are signs in different neighbourhoods announding Halloween parades for children. Then there are venues holding Halloween events for children, in lieu of trick or treating. Some of the houses in our neighbourhood have lots of terrific Halloween themed decorations as well. I mean, BIG displays too!
As a child, I adored Halloween. I loved figuring out what I wanted to be for Halloween. Then getting the costume together. We always had homemade Halloween costumes. A mask or some additional details for the costume might be purchased. But the vast majority of the costume was made at home. My older brother made some cool costumes for us. I rememer my bother and I were a pair of dice one year!
Then there was trick or treating! Dear God! That was a miraculous event for a kid like me. The kind of kid who has not just one sweet tooth, but a whole mouthful of them. The concept of dressing up, going door to door, and getting free candy was all that was needed to pique my interests. Free. Candy. Oh! And candy that I was in complete control of too. No one could take it away. Or prevent me from eating it either. It was all mine.
There were candy exchanges. Every American kid who has trick or treated in the past can attest to this. My younger brother and I would go through our candy loot and make trades for favourite candies. I was a sucker for Smarties and anything chocolate. Jolly Ranchers were also a favourite of mine. Except the grape ones. Gross. Fortunately, our older brother (who sometimes took us trick or treating) loved grape Jolly Ranchers.
The Halloween of ’78 suuuucked. A few weeks before Halloween, the chicken pox ran rough shod through my second grade classroom. I still remember my teacher coming over to my desk where I was working. She wanted to know why I was scratching my forehead so much. I remember her putting her hand under my chin and making me look up at her. She told me to put away my work and go directly to the nurses office. I was the third kid in the class to get chicken pox.
I still have scars on my face from my bout with chicken pox. It felt like I was sick forever too. In 1978 there wasn’t much to do about chicken pox other than send the kid home. And let the virus run it’s course. Oh. And lots of calomine lotion. Ick! I don’t rememer much of the fever part. The itching was the thing that got to me. I was miserable! Like I said, I scratched so much that I still have scars to this day.
There was no way I could go trick or treating. My face was a mass of big, red bumps and scabs. I wore a sheet and was a ghost to hide my face. My older sister and her boyfriend took me and my little brother out to a couple houses of his family members on Halloween night. One of whom was my second grade teacher! There was candy. But not nearly enough for my sweet-tooth-heavy sensibilities!
Present Day Halloween:
I did not think that the short time away from the US would make me so sensitive to some holiday decorating. The lifetime of accumulated experience prior to break from Halloween should have more weight. Or at least I think so. Finland doesn’t celebrate Halloween. There were never any big displays in shops or neighbourhoods. No trick or treating either. It’s too cold for that!
The thought of getting trick or treaters got me excited for Halloween. I may not be able to dress up and go get free candy myself. But I can make damn sure that the children who come to my door get awesome candy and someone who will tell them their costumes are awesome! But there’s no trick or treating in the neighbourhood we’re living in this year. The Halloween parades and planned events at different venues are safer for the kids. And I completely understand that. There will be other Halloweens.
Many of my Nordic friends are posting pictures on Instagram of the weather. I honestly never thought I would actually miss the weather in Finland. But I do. Perhaps that’s incorrect. I miss all of the things that come along with the weather turning colder. Hygge is the word some people might be familiar with in the US. Everything gets more warm and cozy once the weather starts turning colder in early October in Finland.
The month of October, (Lokakuu: mud month) is the last bit of autumn that’s pleasant before November (Marraskuu: dead month, not a direct translation). Marraskuu is sometimes referred to as “the month that shall not be named” because it’s just miserable all the way around. It’s cold, wet, and dark. Most of the time, there’s no snow. Only rain. I cannot express adequately to you readers how completely miserable this month is. Cold. Increasingly dark. And so, so, wet.
Your reward for getting through November in Finland is December (Joulukuu: Christmas month). A month of tremendous HYGGE! And SNOW! Centimeters and centimeters of lovely, white, noise dampening, easy-to-walk-on, light-reflecting SNOW! October is the reminder of the cruddy stuff that we have to get through (with the help of hygge) so we can enjoy Joulukuu.
Right now, my brain is not seeing any of the above. It rained and was overcast for most of the day yesterday. Today looks like it’s going to be more of the same. The thing that is unnerving me is that there are green leaves on the trees! How can it be colder and rainy and the trees still have green leaves?! My brain is just not allowing me to adjust as quickly as I would like it to.
All the reminders of Halloween in the shops and the neighbourhoods combined with the off-kilter weather makes me feel unsettled. Like there’s something wrong. Global warming has a part to play in my current feelings of off-kilterness. I’m sure of that. Another part is that we’re living so much closer to the ocean. The weather is just not going to be like I remember it was as a kid. Or when I was living in central Finland.
So, what now?
I do plan on eating Halloween candy. As an adult, I can buy it and eat it for dinner if I want to. I won’t eat it for dinner. Maybe. The weather is just something I’m going to have to become accustomed to over time. There’s no way to hurry this process either.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.