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When You Move To College, Take Your Family Traditions With You

Back home, one of the walls in my kitchen is painted with black chalkboard paint, meaning that we could draw on it and create different designs and illustrations that match the season, month, holiday, etc.

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It's only a few days away from Halloween and I couldn't be more excited. Not only does it mean that I can eat all the candy I want and have an excuse for it, but it also means that I can celebrate my second favorite holiday through chalkboard art, something that has turned into a tradition of sorts in my family.

Back home, one of the walls in my kitchen is painted with black chalkboard paint, meaning that we could draw on it and create different designs and illustrations that match the season, month, holiday, etc. Normally, I embark on this artistic endeavor with my mom and my sister. We'd stand in front of the wall and try to come up with designs to put on the wall that is different and more complicated than our previous designs. We'd try to make the most of the available space and collaborate to create a masterpiece. Sometimes we'd debate about what to put up, but on occasion we'd sit there and stare at the blank canvas, scouring our brains for original ideas.

Halloween wall from a few years agoPhoto by Anna Masciandaro

Once we come up with a vague idea of what to do, some of us would use references like Google to find images that we could base our creations off of, but we all have different ways of approaching it. My mom normally jumps right into it. She'll start delicately sketching an outline of a design and then go back in with detail, the trademarks of a trained artist. My sister can easily come up with an idea in her head and execute it perfectly on the wall, a skill that I wish I had. While they're both working away, I'm usually spending hours and hours on Google and Pinterest, scavenging the internet universe for the perfect image that matches the one in my head, sometimes I'll even sketch out the design before actually putting it on the wall just so that I can figure out the problem areas and get a basic idea of the shape and size of the image.

Christmas wall from a few years agoPhoto by Anna Masciandaro

How often we draw on the chalkboard really depends on the amount of free time we have and how spirited we are feeling during the holidays/seasons. But, this is the first time since we got a chalkboard wall that I'm not home to do that with them. While it is a little sad that I won't be able to continue this family tradition at home, I'm also excited to spread it and introduce it to my newfound college friends and get them involved in the process, something that I also used to do at home with my hometown friends.

This year for Halloween, my mom told me that she's planning on drawing a calavera on the wall. So, I figured that I would do something similar but with a little twist. My design for this year is "la muerte," a colorful woman who personifies death from the movie "The Book of Life." I chose to draw her because it's a little bit of Halloween with the skeleton but also pays homage to the other holidays that fall around Halloween. By drawing la muerte, I'm bringing a piece of home with me to college which allows me to create a sense of home at school and feel like I'm still a part of the family despite being in another town.

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