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Saturday, February 06, 2016  |  323 Days Until Christmas
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Stories, Poems and Humor
Left Book My Christmas
by Janekovic, Andrea
Right Book

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Since I was a kid I adored Christmas time. Maybe because I was over sensitive in the winter and instead of going to the kindergarten I usually stayed at my grandmas house. It was the best time ever. Since the beginning of the Advent she was baking all sorts of cookies, bishops bread (something like Weihnachtsstollen), "paprenjaci" (Pfefferkuchen) and whole house smelt of vanilla and cinnamon. It was the time for stories, singing Christmas songs and enjoying the warmth of old stove while snow was falling outside. At St. Lucia`s day I would help Granny to start growing wheat in small pots for Christmas. If the wheat is strong and green for Christmas, next year will be fruitful and joyful.

Few days before Christmas mom would wake me up and say the most awaited line: "Come on, it is time to pick up our Christmas tree". We would spend hours searching for the perfect one and of course during the search we would go to the coffee shop for a cup of hot tea and some pie. I felt so grown up.

Then came Christmas eve, we call it "Badnjak". Preparations for the evening would start early in the morning. First it was time to bring the tree in the house. Then the grownups would start preparing a special dinner - fish and salads - while my task would be to check all the decorations, sort them out and prepare them for decorating. Later in the afternoon daddy would say "It`s time" and I would rush to help him decorate the tree and the front door. As I became older that became my task. We would play some Christmas music, our old religious Christmas folk songs and start decorating. Our tree is a very traditional one, with candles and "licitari" (decorations made of special pastry colored red in different shapes like the hart, cross, cherries, horses, dolls etc.). All in red and green, it looked perfect.

In the meantime, mom would set the table and call us children to the kitchen because it is the time when Kristkindl comes and daddy has to talk to him. Mom explained that daddy is telling him that we`ve been good and deserve the presents. Oh, it was always too long. We would ask every minute "was it a bell?" and finally daddy would ring the tiny bell to announce that Kristkindl has gone and we can come in. The room would be dark with only candles lit on the tree. We would sing the special Croatian Christmas song "King is born", blow out all the candles, congratulate Christmas one to another and then there was time to open the presents. We would sit around the tree and daddy would share the presents " this one is for mom, this one is for you, oh this is mine, Nina this is yours, one more for you...".

When we have opened all the gifts it was time for dinner. On Christmas eve you are not allowed to eat meat, fasting was recommended during a day with fish dishes in the evening. And cake afterwards, of course. As midnight was approaching, we would start dressing up to go to the church for midnight mass. We would meet all our friends and relatives there and we, the children, would discuss who received what for Christmas. That was the end of Christmas eve.

The next morning, after breakfast we would go to my grandparents house for a big Christmas lunch where the whole family would gather. My grandparents, my aunt and her family and us. There was another Christmas tree with presents underneath. "Oh, yes, Kristkindl stopped by last evening and left something for you" grandma used to say. Lunch was always the biggest family lunch in the year. First some appetizers, than home made soup, afterwards sarma (dish made of minced meat and Sauerkraut), followed by turkey with "mlinci" (special Croatian pasta), roasted beef and potatoes, salads and cookies and cakes at the end. It was usually a six course meal that would last at least three hours. We would spend the rest of the day playing games, talking and enjoying being all together for Christmas. The day after Christmas (Stefans day) is a day to visit friends and relatives and to bring them a little something for the fruitful year to come.

My grandma died several years ago, we, the children, grew up and moved away, but Christmas is still the same. We take some days off to travel home and spend it the same way as we used to do as kids - whole family at one place.

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