Thursday, November 3, 2011

Annie Get Your Halloween Costume

I was standing in Goodwill Store, brainstorming options of who I should dress up to be for the Halloween “Saints and Sinners” party, when it came to me that I could dress up as a cowgirl, using relatively inexpensive and few resources. This costume came together for me in about an hour and I didn't have to buy any of it. It is all borrowed, except for the skirt.

Then the character came to me: I would play Annie Oakley from Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show! I didn’t really know that much about Annie, so I did some online research at "Women in History" (

As I read about Annie Oakley and who she was, I began to feel a connection and friendship growing. Annie was born on the Ohio frontier in 1860. She was the fifth of seven children. Like me, she lost her father at an early age, and therefore, began shooting game at age 9 to support her widowed mother and siblings. Her mother remarried, was widowed a second time and eventually married a third time. Annie survived a lot of hardship in her life but didn't give up, and she went on to become one of the most renowned and legendary women in history.

Famous for her sharp shooting, Annie was nicknamed "Little Sure Shot" and became the main attraction in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. She won many awards and entertained many audiences with her sport. The Women in History article tells how one of her feats was that at 90 ft. she could shoot a dime tossed in midair!

Most inspiring was how she used her God-given talents for the good of others. “She played a role in breaking barriers for women with her talent and accomplishment in her sport. She showed great compassion and generosity to orphans, widows and other young women" (
see link above).

Annie overcame many hardships in her lifetime, including growing up in poverty, suffering mental and physical abuse, and being physically injured in a train wreck that left her partially paralyzed for a time. Recalling my own close call surviving the car accident at age 3, I admire Annie for her courage in keeping on with her life and her sport. I also have my father to look up to, who at age 19 was paralyzed in a car crash. Like Annie, it was by sheer determination and strength of character that he, like her, regained the ability to lead a normal life. I only hope I have the same determination in me.

While we don’t know that Annie is a saint, and I know nothing about her spiritual life, I do admire the "saintly-like" way she lived her life. If Annie were declared a saint, I think she could rightly be patroness of all those suffering from loss of a parent, poverty, mistreatment and physical injury. She could also be patroness of sportswomen, of course!

After the Halloween party, I had a second opportunity to be Annie Oakley. I drove to a neighborhood to take pictures of kids trick-or-treating and introduce myself to their parents as the writer of their neighborhood magazine. I had such a good time, I wished that Halloween came more often so that people would have a reason to walk around and socialize with their neighbors! It was a dark night but everyone was so friendly and eager to talk. The fact that I was dressed in a costume seemed to especially invite conversation, and everyone thought I made a good Annie Oakley.

Could I have done it without being in Annie's boots and without the courage that her character seemed to infuse within me? When we dress up and put ourselves in another person's shoes whom we admire, we outfit ourselves in more than just clothes, but in qualities that should bring out the best of us...or the worst of us. Isn't that what dressing up for Halloween is all about?


  1. Christina, what a neat story! I just learned a whole lot about Annie myself and can see why you're a new admirer. Only a writer would go to this much depth to play the part -- love it! And I love too how you see Christ in the story of Annie and her life, the suffering she endured, the barriers she crossed. Beautiful! I think you're on to something here. What's next? Whomever you discover, I hope you'll dress the part again for fun and courage. :)

  2. Ha! That's great, Roxane. Maybe next time I'll work on my southern drawl, borrow a peacock, a cane, a copy of Wise Blood and be Flannery O'Conner. :) When I was at the Halloween party, someone suggested I would make a good Amelia Earhart - the first woman aviator to fly over the Atlantic. I'm liking that idea more and more. There is so much inspiration in the biographies of men and women who made history.