November 29, 2010
Christmas Memories, Part I.
It made me contemplate with a hint of nostalgia the fact that I have adopted and gone through so many different traditions, stretching some forty years back in time. Having lived in so many places in my life, it is inevitable that even the celebration of my Christmas today is a product of my cosmopolitan past.
I have decided to reminiscence over my past celebrations in two posts; today and next Monday. I hope you will enjoy this sentimental walk down the memory lane with me.
I was already born into a family that combined traditions of two cultures; the Czech and the Slovak. I do not remember much from my early years, while we lived under the Tatra mountains in Slovakia. That time seems so far removed from my consciousness today, it comes across almost as an entirely different life. Still, a few odd and amusing details enter my thoughts as I recall these Christmas celebrations during the communist era.
Such as my parents covert attempts to trim the tree the day before Christmas Eve, while my sister and me still believed in the enchanted Christmas in which the tree and the gifts magically appear out of nowhere.
The carp, that used to swim around in our bathtub a few days before the 24th, bought live at a marked, to fulfill its grand destiny and be served at the dinner table, according to a long lived Czech Christmas tradition. Although my parents very quickly abandoned this custom, feeling sorry for the poor creature, unable to inflict it any pain.
Tuzex store, located in the stunning and beautiful Tatra mountains. Its concept was the irony of the communism regime, selling western merchandise in exchange for hard currency, to those who were privileged and could afford foreign bills.
The drive would always be a very enchanted one, and always in snow, taking us on deserted roads through breathtaking natural scenery and today I smile with amusement as I recall how we would say that "the trees were covered with whipped cream"...
Finally, the enchantment I felt when watching Cinderella on television, when the broadcast of this famous fairytale in a Slavic version became a tradition during Christmas. The Czech adaptation is still today one of my favorite films, due to its stunning visual and infinitely romantic feel.
Thus I leave you with the final scene of this cinematographic gem, one that still today keeps me spellbound, even though I should long have outgrown the allure of make believe and naive fantasy...