Skip to main content

Trick or Treat, TCK!

Our Third Culture Kids, while Americans, don't share in the traditional American experience.  They're not really Russian either.  Just ask them a simple question in Russian and you'll see that as displaced as they are from American culture, they are somehow even further removed from Russian.  They are some kind of mix, a breed of their own, I guess.  And as they get older, so do the tensions between cultures intensify and the lack of a sense of belonging increases.  

For example, our TCKs don't really celebrate Halloween.  I know a lot of kids who don't celebrate Halloween, so this isn't particularly remarkable; but our kids don't celebrate out of principle, they don't celebrate because nobody really does here either, they don't even know what it is.  Besides, where could I get costume supplies?  What would I do with a pile of Russian candies that nobody in our home really likes?  How many years in a row can I wear my Starbucks apron and go to parties as a barista?

In some ways, it saddens me that my children miss out on some of the fun traditions and activities which made my childhood so memorable and exciting.  There are some things which almost all Americans know about and love about childhood:  trick-or-treating, little league, kickball, neighborhood bbq's, school dances, etc.  Add or take away whatever you like, but these are the unspoken tokens of our American culture that we don't recognize to be fundamental until they're taken away.  

Are my children going to be ok?  Is there damage being done to them by depriving them of these more traditional, American things?  Though I want to say, no, no serious damage can seriously come from missing out on the occasional Halloween party, I need to simultaneously say yes.  Yes, loosening the ties of some kind of overarching identity makes it difficult for children (and adults) to understand their environment, to connect to it, and to find community and common ground with others.  In our decision to move to Russia, I'm afraid our children (and their grandparents) are the ones who will suffer the most.

We understand what we're missing.  We can evaluate life in the U.S. and measure it against life here and analyze the costs and benefits.  Our children cannot, nor will they really ever be able to do so.

However, how much of our past American experience is realistically replicable?  How much of our American culture still exists in the same way it did back when we were living it?  My ideal high school experience is not only tied to a specific place in Colorado (Air Academy High School,) but it also took place during a specific time in history (*ahem 15 years ago - surely that can't be right!)  So much has changed.  So.much.has.changed.  No matter where I live and send my children to school, even if we bought my old childhood home in Colorado Springs and sent our kids to good ol' Air Academy, my high school experience is non-replicable.  Those days, those years are gone.  And with them, much of the possibility of reliving the nostalgia that we attribute to the traditional American experience.  America as I know it, is different, some for the better, some for the worse, but different all the same.

It's this idea that gives me some kind of peace of mind.  Everybody is navigating.  Everybody is adapting.  Nothing is as it was for anybody.  Besides, not all aspects of the American experience are positive.  Children seem older than I was when I was a child.  They know more.  They have iPhones.  They're not me.  Their experience is not mine.  

My children will not experience that traditional American upbringing I remember in all its glory.  But neither will anybody else's.   

And, for now, that makes it easier.


Popular posts from this blog


At the time, it tasted like the perfect combination of spicy salsa over scrambled eggs, just the way I liked it.
But now, I can see, it's not only enduring 8 ruckus cousins piled on the floor for the summer,  but making their favorite breakfasts for them each day.
At the time, it was glimmer of the holiday decorations around the house;  the lantern and lights were always bright, inviting, always welcoming to me.
But now, it's a man who fought for the right to celebrate holidays in this country  whatever way we please, and embraces that right.
At the time, it was the delight of finding the extra few treats on  Halloween that appeared in my pumpkin and seeing the hand which slipped them in.
But now, it's a man who is generous and kind to his children's children.
At the time, it was the joy of walking from Holly Hills to have candy with Grandpa after school instead of going home to carrots and apples.
But now, it's a man who enjoys life and enjoys making life more enjoyable.
At the…

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Don't like brussel sprouts? No worries, these don't taste a thing like them! Our children asked for second (and third) helpings and as Dan remarked, they easily outshone everything else on the table. We took them to our Thanksgiving dinner as well as a Christmas party as they travel and reheat surprisingly well and complemented those more traditional dishes.

2 slices bacon
1 lb. brussel sprouts (thawed if frozen) sliced in half
1/2 an onion sliced into thin loops
Salt and pepper to season
3 TB maple syrup 3 TB apple cider vinegar *optional
1/4 cup raisins *optional

If using raisins, put them in a cup with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. (Raisins can soak over night for brighter flavor.)

In a cast iron skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon from pan to crumble once cool.

Using the hot bacon grease, add brussel sprouts and onion slices to the skillet and immediately season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium low if…


Зарядки or “morning exercises” were a part of every good Soviet's morning routine. It's a tradition that continues to live on in most Russians' ideal schedule, particularly when traveling or vacationing in a new place. Hotels, camps, resorts all offer their vacationers morning exercise before breakfast each day. I decided that this would be a fun “optional” activity for our summer project, and apparently so did several other Summer Project participants - I was shocked when nearly 15 people showed up on our first morning! Every morning at 7:30, the brave fitness gurus and I would run together to the rocky shores of the sea for a 30 minute exercise routine I'd planned out the night before. We did just about every exercise I could think of, including, but not limited to the following: stretching, running, skipping, jumping, lunging, balancing, squating, push-ups, tricep raises, calf raises, holding a plank, leg extensions, wall sits, obstacle courses, and just about anyth…