Deeply buried in the back of my head, there are memories of a snowy season, filled with family and warmth.
When I was a little kid, I cannot remember exactly when, maybe some time after Christmas, maybe the day of the New Year’s Eve….my family and I would get in the car and drive for two hours up to the country side where my mother’s brothers and sisters lived.
My mother had ten siblings. I have twenty five first degree very close cousins. Everyone gathered for the New Year. The ones living in the city would come up to the country side, would stay with different members of the family, and all would celebrate New Year together at one of the siblings’ house.
There would be a big, very long table, with a big, very white table cloth. There are silver lined plates and crystal glasses, silver forks and silver knifes, used only once a year, for this occasion. We would all be dressed up, children and adults alike.
The festivities would start late, well passed my bedtime. The children would stay together at one end of the table. We are all so excited to be up this late and be let into the grownups’ desirable lives for an endless night.
The food would come. Aperitifs, heavy entries, more heavy entries, dessert, more dessert.
Stories would flow. My uncle tells us all stories about his wild pheasant hunting, how he’s sitting still for hours before one appears, how he cannot even breath when he sees it, how he slowly gets his riffle up to his eyes, closes one eye, aims, and BUUUUM shoots one shot. How he cannot hear for a second, and his vision is blurred from all the rifle’s smoke. How he runs toward the prey, how he finds it there laying on its back, lifeless, beautiful.
And then our moment would come. Every New Year’s Eve, before midnight, the children would present their Sorcova, a stick adorned with flowers made out of colored paper, and sing a song wishing well being in the New Year to each one of the grownups at the table. The grownups would listen attentively, and would give money to each child. At the end, we, the children, would all gather together and brag about who got the most money. Nothing else mattered.
That night of the year was magic.
It was that night that made the rest bearable. We lived in a society ruled by a communist dictator, where bread, oil and sugar were rationed. Meat was something of a fairy tale. There were lines of people everywhere, people waiting for something to be brought in the stores, did not matter what, we needed everything. All nights my parents would worry how to get food for next day, how to portion the bread, how to keep us fed.
All nights but that night.