Un-entitled Christmas

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So in my introduction I promised to write few things about my upbringing and my life as a child in former Soviet Union.

I realize that we all have different upbringing. Especially here in the US. Which is so wonderful because everyone here is different and same. There are so many nationalities here and stories upon stories. I just love it so much, to hear people’s stories. Where they are from, what their culture or religion is like, what kind of food their parents used to make etc.etc.

But what made me want to write about Christmas is obviously because Christmas just happened and every year it makes me think of my traditions growing up and how they are different and how they are the same.

When I was very young  ( again excuse my memory) we did not necessarily celebrate Christmas, due to some crazy rules,  it was not kosher to celebrate religion publicly in former Soviet Union. I am not sure how this happened but I believe when my grandparents were young, being religious got them arrested or something unbelievable like that. Again this was not in my lifetime, all I know is that we celebrated something called Naarid, it was between the time of Christmas holiday and New Year.

Naarid were just like Christmas, we had tons of parties and food, school holiday, Santa came, big family dinners happened. I was part of a singing and dancing club for kids, we went all around town and performed. All parents had holiday parties for kids at their work, that gave out big bags of candy.  My grandmother and I always would go and visit my aunt and uncle in the city for few days, and went to see a few Broadway types of shows (My very favorite ones were: Pipi Longstocking and Mary Poppins.),  baked gingerbread cookies and played in the snow, there was never shortage of snow and also snow never stopped life.

But what was different is that it was not materialistic. It was not about things or gifts. We did not write a list of things that we desired. Santa came and we did get gifts, but it was never gifts we asked for, the thing is we never asked for gifts, we never wrote a list, we got gifts that were true gifts and I remember being very excited about them, never disappointed that it was markers or socks. That may sound unbelievable to kids nowadays and it makes me feel old. But it also makes me want Christmas be like that again. I wonder if our kids could handle it.

The other thing that our kids may think is ludicrous is that we had to read a poem or sing or perform before gift was given. It sounds unthinkable to my son when I tell him that, even to my husband, they look at me like I have antlers. But I am totally serious and I kind of miss it. I mean can you imagine how this simple tradition would humble our kids today and what am I saying, kids, humble adults.

And not even for a second did I think that it was not fun. I just always remember extreme anxiety having to sing in front of people, but I stood there and sang, because I was in a choir and in the performing arts club, I always had something to sing or a poem to read. The other thing is that it takes forever to get through the gifts, but at the same time it was so much fun. There were so many laughs, and hearing kids singing and reading was an awesome entertainment. And the appreciation for things, I truly forever cherish this memory and I wish to bring it back, but I need some other people agree with that, but I have not found anyone who seems to think it’s a good idea LOL.

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