November 29, 2010

Christmas Memories, Part I.

As I was decorating my home for the holidays this weekend, some of the shapes and colours brought back a wave of memories of Christmas celebrations of my past.

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.

I recall our pre Christmas visits to the 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...

34 comments :

Michael Manning said...

Zuzana: As a hopeless romantic, I can say this: I hope you always keep the inner child alive! It is a gift!! xoxo!:D)

Brian Miller said...

never let youself out grow it zuzana...never...

GrandmaK said...

This is grand...remembering my Christmases past have become more important of late. The video is grand! Sends a chill down my spine! Have a grand day! Cathy

Gaston Studio said...

Beautiful photo of you and your mother and I love that Cinderella became a tradition, for it's filled with magic and enchantment.

Lovely rememberance of your childhood Christmas Zuzana and I look forward to next Monday's post.

Kath said...

How delightfu! and weren't you the cutest baby :D

Claus said...

My mom and I were talking about Christmas over the weekend as we too, decorated our home. As a little girl, all I wanted were gifts, and in my teens and early adult years, Christmas was a plain and sad occasion. But since 2000, the new millennium, Christmas has acquired a whole new meaning, and all my fond memories seem to have been born since then. How interesting the many and varied meanings and feelings one single celebration can bring to millions and millions of different people.
Lovely post! and quite unique movie! Never heard, or seen, that version before! My Christmas movie tradition? Home Alone and a Christmas Carol :o)
have a great day my friend!

Myrna R. said...

I hope you never overcome the allure of make believe.

What a lovely post.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh my Zuzana,

So much to think about...and THE CARP IN THE BATHTUB. Wow, this sounds like a GREAT children's book. I like the magical and believing side of you.

Always stay a child-at-heart.

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Hilary said...

I so love the idea of trees covered in whipped cream!

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Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Snow cover likened to whipped cream. I see/say that also, to certain winter photos, I take. The world is the same all over, is it not? :-)

Oh yes, that is a lovely picture of you and your lovely mother! How sweet, the way your baby hand is ready to take hold of something shiny, if the opportunity presents itself.

And how beautiful must be that Slavic version of 'Cinderella'!

I too look forward to your next installment.

Gentle winter hugs...

Donna said...

Oh how wonderful, Zuzana! Love the photo of you and your mother.

The video is fantastic!

Hugs,
Donna

CherylK said...

You were a darling baby, Zuzana, and your mother is beautiful. Although I couldn't understand the words in the video, they weren't necessary...I completely understood the message.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your past...I look forward to Monday's post!

Alberto Hugo Rojas said...

that so cute baby girl. jajaj. very pretty. Christmas has arrived. I do not like it. just the end of the year

Lulda Casadaga said...

You have such beautiful and special memories to cherish! I have some fond ones myself...I was thinking of you this Thanksgiving because my husband and I went to the Outer Banks, NC. While you were enjoying your white snow I was putting my feet in the white sand! :D The weather was wonderful, but I'm afraid we'll be seeing the whipped cream covered trees before too long here in VA! Have a warm and comforting week my friend...

adrielleroyale said...

Oh, now what fun would life be if we all outgrew our fantasies?? There will always be a part of me drawn to fairy tales, make believe or not... Lovely post, what wonderful traditions to smile upon! Have a wonderful week!

Betsy said...

Oh, this was so enjoyable! I love hearing about all the different Christmas traditions! The carp in the bathtub! Oh my. I wouuldn't be able to kill it either. Just like I've never purchased a live lobster to boil! ha.

sprinkles said...

Christmas is my favorite time of year. There's just a special feeling in the air and it's gone once the holidays are over.

I've never heard of that tradition with the fish before. Looking forward to next week's post.

I hope your snow is melting. Ours isn't here but it was it was actually kind of nice out. Still chilly but not bitter cold like it was the night before. I had to gas up my car last night and about froze to death waiting for it to fill up.

SandyCarlson said...

You and I are about the same age. I love your baby photo. I love all your images, including those you create with your words. Thank you for making us a part of your Christmas experience.

ladyfi said...

But the trees ARE covered with whipped cream!

I hope the fairytale allure of snow and Christmas remains alive in you for a long time to come...

Rajesh said...

Those sweet memories always energies one. Have a wonderful preparations for Christmas.

budh.aaah said...

Its always good to meet another soul from the same year that you were born :)

I am a hopeless romantic too and just cant get enough of love and love well just wont have me

Susan Deborah said...

Ah, my dearest Zuzana:

How much joy you bring to us by this post. Looking at the comments I can feel warmth and happiness. And the video's music is so fitting to this post. The mans voice, the landscape and the two lovers -- seems a perfect setting to your memories. You know, last week I was so caught up listening to George Baker Selection and especially the song Una Paloma Blanca and I so thought of you. They are a Dutch band and I remembered you so much.

Big hugs and many kisses, dear Zuzana.

Joy always,
Susan

tony said...

A Happy December Zuzana!
I Always Think That Christmas as a very Slavic affair.Hey! You were a bonny baby!
One thing troubles me about your post.The Carp& the bathtub! Where exactly did you bathe at that time??!!!!:)
xoxo

Kerri said...

Ahhhh Christmas memories ..... some of the best ones there are.
I really enjoyed reading about your holiday traditions as a child!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

What a beautiful picture of you Zuzana and your beloved mother.

Jenny said...

Steller post! Quite an enchanting and a whimsical journey it takes my mind. Can't wait to read the next! :)

steviewren said...

Wonderful post Zuzana! I can't wait for part 2...maybe you should share something about Christmas from your perspective everyday this month. I for one would love reading all about your Christmas's past.

Poor Cinderella. Wasn't she cold without a fur cape like the Prince? The film is beautiful. I see why you enjoy seeing it again and again. Yesterday at my daughter's house, we watched Love Actually while we decorated her tree. We try to watch that movie every year with each other. We love the sound track. Elf is another new yearly must see for us.

Velvet Over Steel said...

What 'memories'!! Wow... I really loved the picture of you as a baby & your mother is beautiful like you!! Awesome, awesome post, Zuzanna!!! I'll be back next Monday to read more of your memories!!! :-)

Hope you are having a Wonderful week & Happy December!!!!
Love,
Coreen

Bachelor said...

Zuzana,
Now that I know you are young enough to be my daughter, it amazes me as to what an adventureous life you've lived so far being able to live so many places. I've been to Prague. It is one of my favorite places and if I were to have the money, I'd definitely have a villa there. Thanks for posting about you're very interesting and unique early childhood and I'm looking forward to part II on Monday.
:) The Bach

Joanna Jenkins said...

The older I get the more I appreciate my childhood memories-- especially of the holidays and my family.

Your Cinderella version is fabulous. I watched the whole things twice! What a gorgeous setting. I can see why you still enjoy it.

Happy holidays! I'll be watching for Part 2
xo jj

jeannette said...

Really special that you still have the photo of your first Christmas!

Hope Despite Depression said...

I loved this post. Because the Christmas season is by far my favorite of all the holidays - I love reading / hearing about other peoples memories and their own traditions... How very different our celebrations were! I loved that you got to experience two different cultures...

The picture of you and your mother is just classic... she was absolutely beautiful and you were as cute as a button! :)

I also loved the comment that "the trees were covered in whipped cream..."!! :) I never thought or looked at it that way before!? Now when I see snow covered trees that's what I'm going to think of!

((Many Hugs))
Christine

Zuzana said...

Michael, Brian, Cathy, Gaston Studio, Kath, Claudia, Myrna, Sharon, Hilary, Mr. Lonely (welcome), Amelia, Donna, Cheryl, Alberto, Lulda, adrielle, Betsy, sprinkles, Sandy, ladyfi, Rajesh, budh.aaah, Susan, tony, Kerri, Philip, Jenny, Stevie, Coreen, The Bach, Joanna, jeannette and Christine, thank you all so much for such a versatile comments.

It was a pleasure to read them; some of you shared your own Christmas memories, some of you commented on the amusing traditions of my own past and many of you got caught up in the romantic final scene of my favourite fairytale.

I am so glad to find so many kindred spirit in so many of you, who are too hopeless romantics and love the enchanting part of Christmas.

Thank you everyone as always for taking the time to stop by, to read what I write and to take the time to let me know that you did.;))

Xoxo
Zuzana