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Masquerade

October 31, 2013 16 comments
group

Circa 1960s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

People wear masks all the time, covering up all kinds of situations and emotions.

Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations. In disguise, you get to openly be whatever you want to be and get a bag full of free candy to boot! My memories of Halloween as a child are filled with endless hours of trick-or-treating (mostly treating) first through the 5-stories of our apartment building and then, all over town until our legs could take us no further. After that, my Dad would put us in the back of his shiny, red, Volkswagen bus and drive us to friends’ houses until our bags were stuffed and our eyes were bleary.

I don’t cut my Dad a lot of slack when it comes to my childhood. I can’t sugar-coat fear or disappointment. No one ever wanted to be on the receiving end of his wrath. You never knew what kind of mood he would come home in, if, or when he came home. Every day was unpredictable. He enjoyed holidays and parties though and could really get into the “spirit” of things– when he wanted to. Despite his ominous nature, he was big on costuming and we could pretty much count on his help for a clever idea and creative way of making it happen. He had an impressive repertoire of costumes himself. I remember him spending weeks working on them before the annual masquerade ball he and my mom attended every February at the German Club they belonged to. (I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my Dad is from Germany.) Every winter, the German Club celebrated Fasching which is a German holiday that resembles our Mardi Gras and is similar to Halloween in that parades are held and “clubs” host costume balls.

My Dad’s costumes always won awards, if not First Place.

These are a few of my favorites.

mummy

Circa 1960s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

My Dad, the mummy.

The old man on the right is my Dad.

Circa 1960s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

This “old man” was only in his late 20s.

old group

Circa 1960s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

A group shot of my “old man” and his date who, of course, is my mom.

Third man on the right. My Dad is the Godfather.

Circa 1970s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

The Godfather (4th man in)– is my father.

One year my Dad went as the Statue of Liberty. Another year he was a Prize Fighter who lost to a midget. He even dressed in Blackface as a Minstrel which now-a-days of course, would be considered offensive.

The minstrel and my mom.  Circa 1960s

Circa 1960s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

The Minstrel and my mom.

Another questionable but winning costume; large, blond lady wearing a dress made from potato sacks.

This blond woman wearing the dress made out of potato sacks is my Dad.

Circa 1970s
©2013 Karen Szczuka Teich & TakingTheWorldOnWithASmile.com

My Dad loved masquerades and wore many masks.

As an adult, I realize he was a resourceful, creative man and I often wonder how different his life might have been if he had been raised and educated in this country. Like many people, he had to contend with his demons while they competed with his redeeming qualities. He loved to cook and I have happy memories of him lifting me up and setting me on top of the refrigerator so I could watch him roll out the dough on the kitchen counter to make donuts or melt sugar and butter in a pan on the stove-top to make candy. He’d dribble the hot mixture into ice-cold water to form droplets of yummy home-made caramel. He took our family camping and taught us how to play Yahtzee and Monopoly and passed along his love for puzzling.  I love my Dad.

He did the best he could.

Children are resilient. Thankfully, despite the imperfections of our childhoods or the tumultuous relations we have with our parents, most of us also have unconditional love for them or at least forgiveness. I don’t deny the turmoil of my youth but I do try to have compassion for the fact that no matter how tough I believe some parts of my childhood were, my Dad’s was unimaginable; growing up in Germany during WWII. As a parent myself now, I realize we all just do the best we can and I hope that when my kids reflect on some of the mistakes I’m making, they will have compassion too.

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Oops! I Think The Universe Was Listening!

October 30, 2011 10 comments

When I stated last week that I had gotten my, second wind and was ready for whatever else should happen to come my way, boldly telling the universe to “BRING IT ON!”, I wasn’t exactly talking about the Nor’easter that came full force, literally blowing me and millions of others away this Halloween weekend!

No, No! This is not what I meant at all!

My blog is all about striving to live life on life’s terms and handle its unexpected events with as much grace and decorum as I can but I’m afraid the unexpected event of having a foot of the white stuff covering my front lawn in October, is nearly enough to send me over the edge!

Seriously, doesn’t Mother Nature know my son was supposed to have a championship football game this Sunday?

Or was it Old Man Winter who was awakened from his slumber?

Doesn’t he know he has at least four to six weeks left of snooze time before having to blast down on the North East?

Could it have been <GASP> my doing?

Perhaps this was an early, Halloween trick conspired by the two heads of nature?

Major tree damage, downed limbs and widespread, rampant power outages was the prediction and By-George, that’s exactly what we got! We lost power at around 5pm Saturday. By 7:30 our county was declared a “State of Emergency”.

Hurricane Irene and the rains that followed left our Hudson Valley grounds sopping to the roots! Throw in the seasonal fact that many trees still carry their fall leaves, add heavy, wet snow and gusty winds and you have the disaster that we got; two days before Halloween! It was a cold, long night but thankfully, we got our power back at around 10am this Sunday morning. Considering what I’ve come to see and hear, I think we’re among the luckier lot who got their power back as soon as we did. No doubt, some people in our and the surrounding areas will be in the dark for days!

My girl, surveying the snow right before we lost power, Saturday.

Ugh. I’m bummed! I’m a huge fan of this and all holidays. I love to decorate and celebrate. Who will see our graveyard now that it’s buried under a foot of snow? I want to hear the rustling of leaves beneath sneakers as the ghosts and goblins approach my door, not the squishy-squeaky sound of snow boots sloshing their way up the footpath!

My boy, who is going as a Cheer-leading girl, is gonna freeze his hairy legs off!

On his way to the Halloween dance at school Friday evening. When there was only leaves on the ground!

My girl, who is going trick-or-treating as a Sponge-Bob, is going to, well, be miserable!

Friday's pre-Halloween parade celebration at school.

It’s too early, too soon for this freezing nonsense! I’m just not prepared to be wearing my winter coat in October. It’s something I prefer to ease my way into, not be abruptly forced into! I’m not even sure I know where my snow boots are!

BRING IT ON!

I said it. It’s true. I put it out there.

I’m sorry.

Next time, I’ll keep my declarations to myself!

I don’t ever recall snow, let alone a full-blown storm in this New York area before Halloween. Do you? Were you affected by the storm?

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Photo Credit #1: Mother Nature

Photo Credit #2: Old Man Winter

Photo Credit #3-5: ©Takingtheworldonwithasmile.com & Karen Szczuka Teich

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