There are those who say that my life is rich with colorful material for blogs and/or stories. There is my birth in another country on another continent, followed by immigration at a great age of 12 (lots of things to be remembered “from the old country”), followed by starting anew in a strange place. OK, maybe I am the one who says that my life is rich in materials. Let me go to this source right now and mention an incident I am kind of proud of.
When I was 14 years old, two years after emigrating from Soviet Union to United States, I decided that I wanted to go trick-or-treating for the first time in my life. I was not really aware of when young teenagers considered themselves too old to trick or treat, nor did I really grasp the concept of kids who just had their parents buy them a costume. Maybe there were costumes in the grocery stores back then, I honestly don’t remember. The idea of asking my parents to buy me a costume was ludicrous to me then, laughable — it just wasn’t done. My parents had better things to buy — besides, it simply didn’t occurred to me to ask for buying a ready-made costume. A costume was something one made, or at least that’s how it seemed to me (it still does seem like the right thing to do, although I understand being busy with other things, and the desire to just go to the store and buy one to make life simpler).
I decided to go as one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite books — D’Artagnan from Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. I admired his courage and his passion, and was more than half-way in love with his good looks — at least as I imagined them. I asked my mom for one of our bedsheets, something she could part with forever. Once I had the sheet, I cut out a runner, cut out a circle in the middle for my head, then drew what I considered to be a stylized cross, on the front and the back. I had a plastic sword (still have no idea where it came from), and borrowing a fedora-type hat from my dad, and putting on black winter boots, I was ready for Halloween.
Looking back, I must have looked somewhat ridiculous. It was the most amateur of costumes, slap-dash and childish, uneven and silly and so obviously home/handmade as to be crude. But at the time, I didn’t care. I felt glorious — romantically French and adventurous, brave in service to my queen, knowing that my brothers-in-arms had my back.
That feeling, and the pride of putting together that costume so that I could go trick or treating with friends, was the only thing I remember about my first trick-or-treat. I know I must have had fun, and came home with candy, although I have no recollection of going door to door or eating my candy. It was earned, that’s what I remember most, satisfaction from accomplishing an American custom.
I had many Halloween celebrations since then, some with costumes I made myself (Groucho Marx and Charlie Chaplin were two of my more successful ones, both in high school) and some with (gasp!) store-bought ones. Though, I never went trick or treating again (as my husband and my father had the honors of going with our children, while I “minded the store” handing out candy at home). But nothing since then has given me the kind of pride and pleasure I received while working and wearing my very first Halloween costume.