Danas je Božić

 

Danas je Božić. Veliki praznik za nas pravoslavce. Za mene je on uvek bio veoma poseban jer sam ga uvek provodila u krugu porodice. Verovatno kao i mnogi od vas. Međutim, ono što ga zaista čini posebnim su sećanja koja me vezuju za ovaj dan i na kojima ću uvek biti zahvalna svojim dvema bakama.

Čim smo otvarali oči, brat i ja, smo svako Božićno jutro provodili tako što smo se trkali ko će pre do kuhinje i frižidera po „nešto slatko“. Dan posta pre Božića nam je uvek najteže padao. A onda smo, posle doručka, jurili napolje na grudvanje. Tada je bilo više snega, nego poslednjih godina pa je i sneg trajao duže od 2 dana.

 

Tačno u 12h smo odlazili kod bake Sare, tatine mame, na Božićni ručak. Od kada je deda umro kada sam imala 7 godina, uvek smo bili samo mi i baka na tom ručku. Dnevna soba se pretvarala u veliku trpezariju sa ovalnim stolom i crveno belim stolnjakom na koji su bila poređana razna jela, uglavnom prasetina, varivo, kupus salata.

 

Ali ono što smo sa nestrpljenjem očekivali brat i ja nije bio ručak, već božićni kolač, česnica, iz koje smo jedva čekali da izvučemo dinar. U suštini, po tradiciji trebalo bi da se stavi dukat ili srebrnjak, ali ko je u to doba to mogao sebi da priušti. I tako, baka Sara donosi tanjir na koji je naređala parčade česnice. To nisu bili parčići, već male dvospratnice, pune sitno seckanih oraha, suvih smokava i suvog grožđa. I uz izvinjenje kako joj je baš ove godine malo jače radila rerna pa je malo suvlja česnica, gurkala nam tanjir pod nos. Prvo sam ga zagledala ja, koje parče da uzmem, u koje li je stavila dinar, a ona ga neprimetno okretala baš tako da moja ruka padne na „pravo“ parče. Istu akrobatiku je izvodila i pred mojim bratom.

 

Kasnije smo tek shvatili da je ona umesto jednog stavljala uvek dva dinara i da je to vešto radila kako bi oboje izvukli po dinar iz česnice i kako bi se oboje radovali. Osim toga što je po verovanju važilo da onaj koji pronađe dinar u česnici biće bogat tokom cele godine, taj dinar smo takođe davali na „otkup“ domaćici ili domaćinu i cenkali se kako bi što skuplje „prodali“ taj dinar.

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Posle ručka, odlazili smo kod maminih roditelja na večeru. U skromnoj prizemnoj kući već se na samom ulazu u dvorište mogla čuti graja i vika mojih rođaka. Moja majka je najstarija od troje dece, a moja tetka i ujak su imali po dvoje dece svako, pa kada se svi skupimo na jednom mestu, onda to nikako ne može da bude tiho okupljanje. Ulazimo u hodnik, ljubimo se i pozdravljamo sa svima, pozdravljamo sa „Hristos se rodi“ i želimo svima srećan Božić. Iz kuhinje izlazi hiljade različitih mirisa pečenja, drveta i šapurike koje pucketaju u „smederevcu“, pečenih krompira, i još mnogo čega što ne mogu ni da prepoznam.

 

Nas decu, odmah šalju u sobu gde svi posedamo u krug i prepiremo se koji ćemo od četiri tv kanala da gledamo. Upravljač je uvek kod najstarijeg, tako da mi mlađi nemamo baš neki izbor te se mirimo sa tim. Na sred niskog stola je tanjir sa pitom od kozijeg sira. Svi mi, deca, smo voleli baka Plavkinu savijaču sa sirom. I sad mogu da osetim taj ukus u ustima. Takođe krišom odlazimo u gostinsku sobu, gde stoje, krpom prekrivene četiri velike tepsije česnica. Po jedna od svakoga, tetina, ujnina, naša, a na počasnom mestu, baka Plavkina.

 

Oko 17h mama nas zove sve za sto u kuhinji. Deda sedi u čelo stola, uja sa njegove desne strane i tako redom se ređamo u krug. Baka je na nogama i sipa nam svima redom prvo supu tamno zlatne boje sa domaćim rezancima. Sledeće na redu je pečena prasetina, krmanadle, pečeni krompir, grašak, i naravno opet kiseli kupus kao salata. Pred dedu su male zelene feferone. Mršti se malo dok ih jede, ali ih voli. Žagor ni u jednom trenutku ne prestaje. Svi se smejemo, ali čekamo veliko finale.

 

Nakon što su svi sudovi od večere sklonjeni sa stola, unose se svečano česnice, i ređaju redom, prvo bakina, pa mamina, pa tetina i na posletku ujnina. Mi deca, već skakućemo od nestrpljenja i iščekivanja. Ne možemo ni da sedimo na svojim mestima, već se ređamo redom, od najstarijeg ka najmlađem (jer neki red mora da postoji, jel da?) i kada se konačno krpe sklone i otkriju velike plehove jednako isečenih česnica pristupamo odabiru. Svako ima posebnu taktiku, način, stil biranja. Ja biram treća. Moja taktika je nikada u sredini, nikada na samoj ivici već tu negde između. Uzimamo po jedno parče od svake i sedamo nazad na svoje mesto sa prepunim tanjirićem.

 

Najvažnije je izvući novčić iz bakine česnice, tako da to prvo krećemo da jedemo. Onaj ko je svake godine, neizostavno izvlačio dinar iz česnice je Sanja, sestra od tetke. Desilo se samo jednom da sam ja izvukla, i to zato što je ona te godine bila na faksu. Nakon što Sanja opet proglasi kako je ona izvukla dinar, ostali gunđajući ostavljaju na tanjiriću do pola pojedeno parče i prelaze na sledeće. E sad, pošto smo do tada već svi siti slede domišljati načini utvrđivanja da li se u nekom od preostala tri parčeta krije novčić. Neki prelaze na sečenje sve dok se ne uvere da nema ničega nejestivoga, drugi sa iglom proveravaju bodući kolač, ja sam skidala sloj po sloj česnice i razdvajala listove testa, itd. Čak i kada pronađemo negde drugde dinar, to nije bilo to. Nije bio bakin dinar.  Sećam se da se jedne godine, najmlađa sestra rasplakala i onda je baka došla u sobu i svima nam podelila one ljubičaste novčanice od 20 dinara.

 

Prošlo je dosta godina od kada smo jeli bakinu česnicu. Ni jedna ni druga baka odavno nisu tu sa nama za Božić. Odavno smo i mi prestali da se okupljamo svi na današnji dan. Čujemo se, čestitamo Božić, pravimo česnice, i čuvamo ovako retke trenutke.

 

Ispunite svojoj deci detinjstvo lepim trenucima. Jednom će ti trenuci postati uspomene kojih će se rado sećati i koji će ih pratiti gde god da se nalaze, možda i daleko od svojih najbližih, ali koja će im ispuniti srca toplinom.

 

ENGLISH

Today is Christmas. A very important holiday for us Orthodox. For me, it has always been very special because I have spent it with my family. And probably as many of you. However, what really makes it special are the memories that remind me of this day and for which I’ll always be grateful to my two grandmothers.

As soon as we opened our eyes, my brother and I, were spending every Christmas morning competing who was going to get to kitchen and to the fridge first to get „something sweet“. Day of fasting before Christmas has always been the hardest. After breakfast, we rushed out of the house for some snowballing. Back then there was more snow than the last few years, and the snow lasted for more than 2 days.

At exactly 12 o’clock we went to Grandma Sarah’s home, my father’s mother, to the Christmas lunch. Since my grandfather died when I was 7 years old, there were only my father, my mother, my brother, my grandma and I on that lunch. The living room was transformed into a large dining room with an oval table covered by red and white tablecloth on which were lined up a variety of dishes, mainly pork, cooked vegetable and sauerkraut.

But what we, my brother and I, were looking forward to was not the lunch, but a Christmas cake, česnica. We couldn’t wait to find the coin in it. Traditionally the coin should have been from gold or silver, but who could have afford it back then. And so, my grandma Sara brought a plate on which was a pile of square cut pieces of česnica. Those were not small pieces, but the more like small two-story building of cake, full of finely chopped walnuts, dried figs and raisins. And with apologies how this year her kitchen oven was not working properly so that’s why česnica was a little drier, nudged a plate under our noses. I was first to choose so I looked around it; which piece should I take; in which she put the coin; and then she unnoticeably turned it just a little bit so that my hand fall on „right“ piece. She performed the same acrobatics in front of my brother.

Later, when we got older, we realized that instead of just one coin she always put two and that she skillfully worked so we both get the coin from česnica and that we both could rejoice. Aside from the belief that the person who finds a coin in česnica will be rich throughout the year, we could also get the „ransom“ from the hostess or the host and bargain for the coin so we could „sell“ it more expensively.

After the lunch, we went to my mom’s parents for dinner. The hubbub and clamor of my cousins could be heard at the mare entrance to the courtyard of the modest one-story house. My mother was the oldest of three children and my aunt and uncle had two children each, so when we all get together in one place it isn’t possibly there would be a quiet gathering. We enter the hall, kiss and say hello to everyone, say „Hristos se rodi “ (Christ is born) and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. There thousand different smells, of the roast, of the burning wood and corn cobs cracking in the fire in old furnace „Smederevac“, smell of baked potatoes, and much more I can’t even recognize, are coming from the kitchen.

We children are immediately sent to the room where we all sit down in a circle and argue which from four TV channels we are going to watch. The remote control is always in the hands of the oldest, we younger don’t have much of a choice so we just resign. In the middle of the low living room table is a plate full of goat cheese pie. All of us just love grandma Plavka’s strudel with cheese. And even now I can taste it in my mouth. We also secretly go to the guest room, where, covered with cloth, four large pans of česnica are left. One from each, one from my aunt Milca, one from my aunt Stana, my mother’s, and in a first place, in front of all, grandma Plavka’s.

Around 5 p.m. my mom calls us all to the table in the kitchen. Grandfather is sitting in the head of the table; his son and my uncle, to his right, and so on, we are all sited around the table. Grandma is on her feet and she is pouring us a dark golden soup with homemade noodles. The next are roasted pork chops, baked potato, peas, and of course again sauerkraut as a salad. In front of grandfather are small green chilies. He is frowning slightly while eating them, but he loves them. Murmur doesn’t stop. We all talking, eating and laughing, but we are still waiting for the big finale.

After all dishes from dinners are removed from the table, česnicas are brought with the ceremony, and aligned in order: grandmother’s first, then my mother’s, aunt Miica’s and finally aunt Stana’s. We, the children, are already hopping up and down with impatience and anticipation. We can’t even sit on our chairs, but we are stepping in a queue, from the oldest to the youngest (because there should exist some order, right?), and when the cloths are finally removed to reveal large trays of equally cut česnicas unearth, we are starting with our selection. Everyone has a special tactic, approach, style of choosing. I choose the third. My tactic is: never in the middle, never from the edge of the tray, but somewhere in between. We take a slice of each, and sit back into our place with a full plate.

The most important thing is to draw a coin from grandma’s česnica, so that is the first we eat. The one, who was drawing the coin every year, was invariably Sanja, my cousin. It only happened once that I found the coin, and it was because that year she was in college. Once she declares she found the coin, others grudgingly leave in saucer half eaten piece and move on to the next. Now, since by than we are undoubtedly already fed up, we move to the all kind of ingenious ways of determining whether in any of the remaining three pieces the coin is hidden. Some are cutting its pieces until they believe that there is nothing there, the others are poking with a needle to check the cake, I am peeled off layer by layer of česnica, etc. Even when we find a coin somewhere else, that wasn’t such a big deal. It wasn’t my grandmother’s coin. I remember that one year, my youngest cousin burst into tears and grandma came into the room and gave us all one purple banknote of 20 dinars.

It’s been many years since we ate my grandmothers’ česnica. My grandmothers aren’t here with us for Christmas for a long while now. We stopped to gather for this day since then. We talk to each other, we wish Merry Christmas to each other, we make česnica, and treasure such rare moments.

Fill your children’s childhood with beautiful moments. Once those moments will become memories that they will gladly remember and that will follow them wherever they are, perhaps far from their loved ones, but will fill their hearts with love.

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