152

I’m posing in ankle-deep snow somewhere in Odessa, Ukraine, my fur coat, ushanka (cap with ear flaps), scarf, boots and mittens warding off the biting cold. Behind me stands a seven-foot-tall statue of Santa Claus, resplendent in a red robe painted with gold stars, leaning on his staff with one hand and holding a bag of goodies in the other. For a moment, I’m in Russia again, even if only in a photograph. Proudly, I present the photo to my fourth-grade class for show and tell. Suddenly, a voice rings out, ‘It’s Communist Santa and the junior Bolshevik!’
As I stand rooted to the floor in front of the class, feeling my face flush a shade of tomato and nervously twirling a strand of hair around my index finger, the photograph transforms into more than a memento of snowy childhood fun: it becomes a tangible representation of my identity through the eyes of some of my American peers

In this article