Angela Meady -

A Slovak-Danish-Finnish Canadian Christmas


At my Slovak grandparents home, there were 24 grandchildren along with the adult children visiting so we tended to come in shifts and one never knew who would be there when you arrived. Grandma would greet us with kisses and compliments - "you look like beautiful flowers looking up at me" was a typical thing for her to say. She was short and plump and wore her long blonde hair in a braid which she wound around her head like a pale gold crown.

Her cheeks would be all rosy from cooking all morning and I can visualize her best like this - sitting on a tiny stool in a corner where she could watch everybody, the winter sun shining in on her, as she laughs to herself from the pleasure of having her whole family with her. Over and over she'd pop up to fill plates again - more turkey? potatoes? have some turnips, or beets or peas, here are some cabbage rolls, they turned out really good, or would you rather have some garlic sausage? red cabbage? rye bread? stuffing? horseradish? what can I get you? Grandfather was the tall skinny restless type, and he'd often pace the rooms reminding the unruly kids not to twirl on the piano stool and whispering to the good kids (or those who weren't caught anyway) where tin tubs filled with bottles of red and white cream soda were available for the taking.

The attic was good for exploring as there were paintings there that we kids swore had eyes that moved if you looked closely enough. But the basement was even better. There were two iron beds with piles and piles of fluffy perinas and grandma never minded if you jumped on them. So while the men played cribbage and drank a bit of Christmas vodka or rye and the women relaxed and drank tea and talked after eating, we kids  were exploring or jumping high in order to fall into a feathery abyss where you could disappear entirely. There was also a "cuborka" which I believe is one of those not English not Slovak words which sometimes crept into the language. It was a tiny closet under the stairs where jars of mysterious looking preserves and white candles for grandma's altar were stored. It barely fit one cousin and myself but we were too wary of the boy cousins possibly locking us in to stay there very long. To lure us all out of the crevices, grandmother would call "rozky" and we'd come running like mice from every corner. These delicious walnut filled crescent shaped cookies were a special part of Christmas magic, and grandma made them in industrial proportions. She'd  pull bag after bag of them out of a big trunk for us to take home.  Then with a silver dollar from grandfather and another kiss from grandmother we'd be on our way, icing sugar sprinkled over our face and hands as we waved good-bye from the car on the way to the other grandparents.


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 Story and Photos © 1998 by Angela Meady - ameady@loon.norlink.net
All comments should be forwarded to Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.

All contents copyright © 1998.All rights reserved.
Revised: Dec 21, 1998