We are not having family or big reunions this Christmas, but we are having a good Christmas, albeit quiet. We have our health, thankfully, and a pretty Christmas tree. Two out of three fur babies are still with us and they seem to be enjoying their new “home” in Colorado, taking plenty of naps and snuggling with us.
I love Christmas–always have. As a kid, I used to sit underneath the tree and look at the glowing lights and ornaments from below, taking in the smell of fresh frasier. I also emptied out the Christmas candy–a sort of fondant covered in chocolate–that was hanging in colorful and shiny wrapping from the branches; that is if my older brother hadn’t beat me to it. We just ate the candy and reshaped the wrapping to make it look like it hadn’t been touched.
Christmas was a time of peace and magic, even if economically or politically times might have been tough (in communist Romania). But we were kids, and ignorance was bliss. The fresh snow that covered the grey of the city made things sparkle and even quiet down. I loved playing outside in the snow: not just building snowmen but tunnels and castles. I played until the street lights came on, and sometimes beyond, especially if the power was off (yay, an excuse not to do homework!). We played until we were soaked to the bone or icicles crusted our clothes in a semi-rigid sheet. We skated down the sidewalks, making neighbors mad when we poured water and let it freeze in long strips that made for better gliding action. We frequented the local skating rinks too, and my brother skied in the nearby resort.
I remember one winter hike that was magical. We usually hiked in the summer, but not in the winter through the snow. In high school we took an overnight group trip up the mountain. We packed like sardines into a small cabin room with a roaring fireplace. I remember getting too hot and going outside for some air sometime in the middle of the night. The sky was clear, the air was crisp, and the moonlight made the snowy woods glisten: pure magic.
We didn’t get together with our extended family at Christmas back then, but celebrated at home and sometimes with friends. Good food was always involved. Our neighbor made amazing traditional cakes called cozonac and we sometimes got a loaf from her. We didn’t have many sweets growing up, so holiday time was extra sweet.
Read about some Romanian Christmas traditions.
I didn’t go home for the holidays for years while I was studying in the US, and that was tough. I longed to just be in a home for the holidays, and I really loved the sometimes over-the-top decorations that my American friends put up. I enjoyed being invited into their homes, even though I was an outsider, just to feel the joy of a family Christmas (I related to Sandra Bullock’s character Lucy from While You Were Sleeping).
When I got married and had my own house in the US, I made sure it was cozy and warm, especially at Christmas time. While living in the RV it was a bit tough to have proper holidays, and that’s why we joined David’s family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2019. Little did we know what a good decision we made in light of 2020’s pandemic…. We settled (temporarily) in Colorado in July of this year and we love spending a lot of time outdoors. The sunshine is plentiful–so far daily, with maybe 3-5 cloudy days in 5 months! The mountains are beautiful, especially when they get some snow. I fluffed our apartment nest as best as I could (I didn’t anticipate that there would be a shortage of furniture due to the pandemic) and we are carrying on with life, making the best of it. In the end, really, that’s the best we can do.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and find joy in the little things!
P.S. Read about Christmas in Brasov in my 2016 post.
In memoriam: Kylie