Pretend Halloween ūüéÉ

Celebrating Halloween is not a Portuguese thing.  Even as I say this, I am kind of lying.  There are decorations for sale at many stores.  Costumes are readily available.  A few stores even sell bagged candy, but not many.

On November 1st in Portugal, kids come around and ask for “P√£o de Deus.” Bread for God. ¬†It is in celebration of All Saints’ Day, which is a national holiday. ¬†They knock on the door starting early in the morning and it lasts all day and you can give them candy, nuts or some change. ¬†But this year, we actually had 9 real trick or treaters on Halloween night. ¬†I was so excited. ¬†It is destined to get bigger.

In our family, my kids dress up and they get to knock on our 6 outside doors and some windows. ¬†I prepare 12 different characters. ¬†A mean Russian baker who throws flour at the girls, ¬†a cheerleader, a grandma….you get the idea. ¬†I shop for weeks to get a variety of different candy because we have limited options to actually hand out. ¬†I know it is a lame substitute, but I have started to love this fake Halloween night. ¬†I run from door to door putting on my crazy outfits and disguises. ¬†At some doors, I am crabby and just throw candy at the girls and other times, I make them perform songs and skits. ¬†The night is fun and full of laughs for all of us. ¬†My priest has to play 12 separate characters too. ¬†He tends to be Australian surfers and insane Swedish nannies.

In all, the girls hit 24 doors. ¬†We make them go to the doors in wild patterns. ¬†They run and can hardly wait to see who opens the next door. ¬†It is pure joy watching their amusement. ¬†I know that they might prefer a traditional Halloween, but I have to say that I absolutely love celebrating Halloween in our wacky way. ¬†Selfishly, I keep my girls close by and I get to watch their happy faces…I’ll take that any day.


Paid only in love.

I have been volunteering full time at a start up school in Sintra, Portugal.  I teach all of lower school and now middle and high school English. The days can be long and challenging.  Almost all of the students are native Portuguese speakers and many are from Angola and are learning in totally new ways.   I am enjoying watching them learn English and seeing their satisfaction when they communicate correctly.

As a volunteer, I get paid only in love and appreciation.  One little boy celebrated his birthday on Friday.  He turned 8.  I threw him a little party.  Nothing exceptional.  A small cake made out of Oreos, some candy, a hat and a Kinder egg.  He was overjoyed.  Maggie said it was like he was given a million dollars.  I have never given anyone a million of anything, but I have to agree with her.  His face was beaming with happiness.  I sent his mom a quick birthday message for him on Facebook and this was her response.

This made my day. ¬†“He love him teacher Ginnelle to much.” ¬† Appreciation is worth its weight in gold.