Hi everyone! Before I get into this weeks Friend Friday topic, I need to formally thank Vahni of grit and glamour for the unbelievable honor she bestowed on me yesterday. I don’t know if you have seen her post yet, but Vahni took the time put together a year-end “best of” list of blogs that she believes made a significant impact in the blogosphere this year. You know how whenever you watch the Academy Awards, everyone always says “it was simply an honor to be nominated?” Well, in this case, it would simply have been an honor to even be considered. It was beyond on honor to be selected for inclusion amongst all the other fabulous bloggers that I deeply respect. However, for Vahni to actually name me as her choice for G &G Blogger of the Year is incomprehensible to me. I am still reeling from shock, and I still feel like I am living a dream.
Let me try to put this in perspective. Getting this accolade from Vahni – who, in my opinion, is undeniably the true Blogger of the Year for her passion, intelligence, talent, and friendship. She is the type of blogger I aspire to be one day. It is a bit like getting an award from your idol. Actually, it is JUST like getting an award from your idol, because Vahni has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to me and pushes me to consistently improve. I strive to be more like her, so that I might one day make an impact on the blogosphere that might be similar to her own. So, thank you Vahni – you truly have no idea how much this means to me. I am honored, humbled, and completely overwhelmed! The Holidays are a time of giving, and Vahni gave me the best present I could have asked for yesterday!
This week’s Friend Friday topic is a bit different from the usual and focuses on Holiday traditions. In my family, the Holidays come a bit later than most of yours. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but for those of you that are not aware, my brother and I are actually first generation Americans. My parents moved to the Cleveland area in the 1970s. Our family is Serbian Orthodox, which means that we follow the Julian calendar for religious holidays in lieu of the Gregorian calendar. As such, our Christmas (which we call “Božić”) actually falls on January 7th. Other than the date, most of the traditions we follow are likely similar to yours, with some minor differences here and there. So let’s get on to these questions!
1. What is your favorite holiday memory? Is it wrong to say that I actually don’t have one memory that stands out from the rest? Although we have some distant cousins that live in Ohio, other than my immediate family, the rest of my relatives are either still in Serbia or in Australia. This means that we never had the huge family gatherings that so many are used to having at this time of the year. Instead, Christmas at my house has always been about the 4 of us. It’s about celebrating one another and toasting to a new year. If I would have to pick a favorite holiday memory, I would have to pick the memories I have of my brother and I growing up. Laughing. Goofing off. We have always been close, and so many of my favorite memories do focus on that, even now. We are just goofy when we get together
2. Were you ever a victim of those family Christmas party photo shoots? What do you think about them now? Care to share an old photo? Of course! Wasn’t everyone subjected to those photos? In our house especially, considering that all the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were literally across the globe, we always had to take tons of photos during Christmas. Then we had to send them to everyone so they could see how we had grown from the prior year. I think most of us (myself included) hate the posed photo shoots. Waiting for the camera timer to go off. Taking multiple shots just in case one didn’t turn out or someone blinked (side note: the invention of the digital camera is a great thing). Wearing your Christmas outfits. They were necessary though, and although I hated them then, I love looking at the photos now that we are grown. Unfortunately I don’t have any of those here, but I do have a couple of shots of my brother and I when we were really young during the holidays. Check out the goofiness!
3. What’s the best Christmas gift you ever gave? Without a doubt, volunteering in the children’s ward of hospital. It’s been a few years since I have done this, but without a doubt, spending time with those kids and bringing a bit of joy to them and their families was priceless. The best gift you can give is one of hope, and just being there gave those kids hope.
4. Craziest/funniest holiday family tradition: Our holidays stay pretty traditional, so we don’t have any particularly funny or crazy things, although this one might seem a bit odd to most of you. Part of the traditional Christmas fare is a homemade round loaf of bread that is called a česnica. When the dough is being kneaded, the woman of those house sneaks some coins into the dough, and then bakes it that way. At dinner the bread is “broken” by everyone, and whoever find the coins is supposed to have a year full of good luck and prosperity.
Another tradition that may sound a bit crazy (but is actually traditional!) happens on the three Sundays before Christmas. Serbs don’t traditionally exchange gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Most do anyways, including my family, but we also follow the “real” tradition. Each of the three Sundays preceding Christmas are given a name (roughly translated into Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s day) and gift giving occurs in the form of a “ransom.” In the olden days, on the morning of Children’s Day, for example, the parents would use a scarf to tie their kids to a chair. The children would know this was coming and have a present ready that would serve as the ransom payment so they would be freed. Same thing would happen on Mother’s and Father’s Day – the kids would tie up their parent, who would have to give them a present in order to be freed. Nowadays all you have to do is show a scarf, and the person instantly whips out the presents. It definitely a bit different from what you might do, but it basically means we get a couple presents early! 🙂
5. What is your favorite type of Christmas cookie? This is another place where my answers will likely be different. My favorite Christmas desserts are also traditional Serbian cookies. The first is called tulumbe and they are a dough-based dessert that is poured (soaked) with a sweet syrup. Yummo!
The second is just a mixture of cookies, most of which you don’t have to bake. They range from chocolate to walnut to coffee to coconut and vanilla flavors. A couple of samples are below.
What about you? What are some of your favorite Holiday traditions?
Finally, a quick message to all of my readers. Thank you for an unbelievable few months. When I began blogging I had no idea what this experience would be like, and what joy it would bring to my life. I am thankful that I have had this opportunity to get to know you, and am truly humbled by your support. So, here I am coming out of the shadows just a bit to say Happy Holidays to you all!
My wish for each of you is health, happiness and laughter during this Holiday season and for the New Year. No matter how you celebrate, may your days be joyful and full of love!
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