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    Happy Easter!

    April 19th, 2009

    No, my calendar is not a week off. Bulgaria, being primarily an Orthodox Christian country celebrates Easter based on the Julian calendar, while most Western-based churches celebrate on the Gregorian based calendar. Occasionally they sync-up, but they’re off most years based on their lunar calculations. Anyway, point is: today is MY Easter!

    Growing up, we colored eggs (which was my favorite) and enjoyed Easter bread. We didn’t have egg hunts, an Easter bunny or Easter baskets, which is a little sad because I would have loved a whole ‘nother chocolaty feast holiday. We did have a game we played with our eggs though — each family member picked their own colored egg and we would take turns trying to break each other’s eggs with our own. The person with the last egg standing was the winner — mostly of bragging rights. Looking back on it, they were kind of a looser, because everyone got to eat their egg except for them.

    I didn’t attend Easter services until I moved to the U.S. Looking back, it’s strange for a country to celebrate a purely religious holiday with every aspect of religion yanked out of it. However, this holiday is actually my most favorite church attendance day, and the only day I have an urge to go. I don’t know if it’s the midnight mass and the sight of the congregation circling the church holding candles, or finding people that share the same memories and traditions as me — there’s just something really special about it. It will be a long while before G is old enough to stay up to go so I can take him, but I wonder if he’ll feel about it the same way I do. Somehow I doubt it, because my immigrant experience won’t translate the same way. He will get to benefit from the best of both worlds though: egg hunts with friends; bread and eggs wars with my parents; an Easter basket from mom and dad. Lucky kid!

    Hristos Voskrese!

    Baby’s 1st Christmas

    December 26th, 2008

    Our first Christmas with G was just about perfect. I say just about because S has been sick over the last two days and is feeling stuffed up and miserable.

    G gave me the best present possible: an extra hour of sleep by having a nice and long morning nap, allowing me to do the same. This was followed by a generally fuss free attitude with several good naps sprinkled throughout the day. I’d like to think that this is a gift, anyway, and not G getting sick himself. I’d hate for this to become G’s first cold instead of G’s first Christmas.

    My dad and sister came out to spend the Christmas with us (my mom is in Bulgaria again helping care for my progressively deteriorating grandfather).

    S and I have spent almost every Christmas with his family since we started dating. I love their big family celebrations, the excitement on the kid’s faces… However, spending time with my family this year has been a big treat for me. We’ve hung out in our PJ’s, had some great dinners, good wine, good talks, and even a round of Tangrams last night after G went to bed.

    I didn’t make any of the traditional Bulgarian breads this year (being a new mommy doesn’t jive with baking for hours right now) BUT we did observe an old custom that I’d forgotten about: growing up, the morning of the holiday, kids go from relative to relative and pat them (lightly) on the back with a decorated wood called “survachka”. While doing so, they wish them well for the new year and a long life. The tradition is rooted in wishing a good harvest, a plentiful year and health to the family. The decorated wood is typically made out of a branch from a cornel tree, which is the last tree to loose it’s leaves and the first to bloom. It’s decorated with popcorn, dried fruits, and wool. While children pat their relatives and family friends, they recite a poem, which loosely translates to:

    “Let the year be blessed and joyous,
    with green grain on the fields,
    big grape on the vine,
    yellow cob on the corn,
    red apple in the orchard,
    full house of silk;
    be healthy and merry
    til next year and forever!”

    The best part (for the kid that is)? After this is done, your relative turns around and gives you cash.

    So my dad made G his first survachka. Our yard lacks cornel bush branches, so he made do with our growing vegetation. We’re also a little short on loose wool, but some sewing thread seemed to do just fine. It came out really nice!

    Then after we opened gifts, he received his first annual survakane by G.

    grab stickpat grandpawalk away with loot

    … and G, in turn received, his first, hard-earned $20. Not quite the Jolie-Pitt twin millions, but not too shabby for a morning’s work 🙂 Of course this is going straight into G’s college fund.

    G’s been enjoying several of his gifts all week long. His diapers have been keeping his little bum dry for a week now (and they rock by the way). He’s enjoying time in his new Pikkolo carrier, and is thrilled hanging out in his Jumparoo. Since his feet aren’t long enough to touch the floor, I put an empty cardboard box under him to give him that long needed “boost”. He is bouncing himself up and down now, which is awesome. He can’t quite reach the toys around it yet, but boy does he want to. I see this thing being my saving grace for a long time to come. Can you say un-interupted cooking/eating time (I hope)? I need to take a picture of this to show you guys.
    He also received several really fun developmental toys, ornaments for his tree, and some great clothes. We’re really appreciating how loving and generous our family and friends have been to us this year. Thank you all!

    Before I sign off,  I wanted to show you our Christmas tree.

    For several years now I’ve talked about adding photo ornaments from each year, growing our tree with memories of loved ones. Well, this year I finally started. Not sure how practical this idea is, but it did turn out nice!

    And of course here’s Neko reminding us that as our first child he is a gift too! (PS, he got a brand new catnip sock for Christmas: his favorite. It’s already being smacked around the house)

    Merry Christmas everyone!!!