It has always been very fun and interesting for me to anticipate and to watch the Halloween event unfold every year.

I still recall the very first day when we arrived to Los Angeles from Vietnam, it was October 30th 1990. Just one day before the “Trick or treat” game begins, a very American traditional game for the Halloween. My sister Nga and her husband, who had lived in Orange County for over a decade before we arrived, informed me about the costumes and the candy treats. So, we rushed to the store to get all the things our children needed, and by the sun dawn of the next day, a bunch of witches (I was one of them), ghosts and power rangers were walking all over the streets in our neighborhood to do the “Tricks or Treats” thing. Our children were excited and went crazy with all the candies and chocolates of course. I still see in my head the pictures of them sitting in the living room screaming with joys and counting, and comparing their treats while my sisters and I took pictures of each other and laughed at our own costumes.

Those days are long gone now. The children have grown and they are all in colleges or married. We don’t do that “Tricks or Treats” any more. Beside, we, the sisters have also moved apart from each other due to work and children’s need. So, every year now, I just watch other families and children walking by and thinking of the pasts.

Well, this last few days, I really enjoy watching streams of people walking up and down Palm Canyon with their colorful and unique costumes in front of L’olivo. Some pets got also to wear their costume too, so adorable!…

These days remind me though of the old days in Vietnam as well. Every year, traditionally, on the full moon of July (Chinese Calendar), Asian we celebrate too, the days of “The Deads”. But it is in a very different way and in a much sober mood.
We don’t have the tradition of wearing colorful and scaring costumes. People don’t even dare to decorate the house with grave yards and devils and ghosts like here in America neighborhood…

We pray and show our respect instead to the invisible spirits for sharing the peaceful world we all live in (us from the real life and their from the world beyond). Children in Vietnam don’t wear costumes because the parents of these kids are very poor. But yes, they are all over the town in that full moon day to fight for the candies and treats from every house around the block. My mother used to set up the altar, which is just a small wooden table, by the front door. She filled them up with probably ten plates full of cookies, candies, boiled meats and eggs, even cakes sometime…My job was to stand next to the table and be a guardian from the hungry children who were screaming and waiting just outside the door. But before let them take away the treats, my mother had to pray. She lighted the candles and incents on the table and said her thanks and respects to the spirits. After waited about ten minutes for the fire from the incents to die down, she signaled for me to open the gate, and Lo and behold, what a chaos!…

About thirty to forty little kids immediately jumped on top of the plates for the food. Within five or may be just three minutes, the whole table was gone and empty, not even the plate. Well, they did leave the candles alone though. My mother and I actually had to help some little tiny and weaker kids to fight against the bigger ones for their shares. There was no such thing of politely “Tricks or Treats” and graceful “Thank you!..” like here in America. But Asian, we love to do and celebrate “the day of the Deads” each year. I am not sure if they are still do the same ever since I left Vietnam. The country is under Communism now and I heard it has changed a lot. I have never been back.

Well, my mother passed away seven years ago in California and my children don’t like and don’t even care about Halloween any more. So now, all I can do is to watch the day with many strangers walking by L’olivo and missing my mother and the days that had gone.