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Milestones in Valencia: Halloween Celebrations and a 40th Birthday Abroad

Four months in Valencia with a few milestones: celebrating Halloween and turning 40!

We were pleasantly surprised with the extent of Halloween-related activities here. In the family expat community, some motivated parents organized an outdoor Halloween party, drawing 50+ families. We also attended another festive party hosted by one of the players in Dave’s poker group. 

The school asked kids to dress up as a bat or a spider for Friday’s Halloween celebration, since Monday-Tuesday were school holidays due to All Saints’ Day (yep, still a Catholic country). Somehow I crafted an ‘easy bat costume’ (🙏🏼YouTube). Fittingly but unfortunately, Jacob embraced the bat experience with a lack of consistent nocturnal sleep. But he said he wanted to be a shark as well, so we switched costumes for Halloween night. This was a different experience trick or treating in a dense urban area without single family homes or decorated lawn displays. But we were again impressed with the expats who organized an elaborate route through the Russafa area, enlisting businesses and volunteers to give out candy. It was a good time, though we were a tad disappointed with the dearth of individually wrapped chocolate-based candy bars in Jacob’s haul … too many hard candies/choking hazards 😆 😬 

I didn’t anticipate the complicated feelings that arose with being away from ‘home’ for my 40th birthday. But as a result of the meaningful connections we’ve made the past few months, I felt comfortable planning a casual birthday gathering. We had a wonderful time drinking and feasting at La Malcriada as the kids tired themselves out on the adjacent playground. The thoughtful messages, gestures, and gifts received during my birthday week meant a lot, particularly because it coincided with the last session of a bimonthly, virtual grief support group for parent loss which I participated in for nearly a year. Although being an expat and parent can feel overwhelming at times along with my grieving process, one of the highlights has been the conversations and camaraderie with many people from other countries and cultures, which provide understanding, empathy, perspective, reassurance, and hope.