A Joyous Yule overall

We had a wonderful holiday season over all. Thanks to the cooperation of the calendar, Dusan had plenty of time off work without having to take much vacation time. The weather didn’t cooperate, so we were mostly indoors or wet to the skin with snow slush and mud, but as the song says, “Heedless of the wind and weather.” 🙂

Marik and Eliska the cat soaking up some rare and precious rays of noontime winter solstice sunshine.

Marik and Eliska the cat soaking up some rare and precious rays of noontime winter solstice sunshine.

Shaye used the last of the snow to make a snowgirl, decorated with the fruits of the year's harvest, not just a carrot nose, but potato eyes and an apple mouth. Okay, the rocks were still buried by the snow, though that didn't last long.

Shaye used the last of the snow to make a snowgirl, decorated with the fruits of the year’s harvest, not just a carrot nose, but potato eyes and an apple mouth. Okay, the rocks were still buried by the snow, though that didn’t last long.

Wholesomely chaotic Yultide chaos with cookies, candles, bread sourdough, piles of unsorted papes and children's crafts in the background. The cookies were a bit unwholesome with the food coloring in the decorations that caused Shaye to melt down for about two days. We may have to ban food coloring in future, though it was fun to decorate colorful cookies.

Wholesomely chaotic Yultide chaos with cookies, candles, bread sourdough, piles of unsorted papes and children’s crafts in the background. The cookies were a bit unwholesome with the food coloring in the decorations that caused Shaye to melt down for about two days. We may have to ban food coloring in future, though it was fun to decorate colorful cookies.

By the second day of Yule, a steady downpour had turned the snow into a dangerous mix of ice and slush. It was almost impossible for anyone to drive in the mess. We went out caroling in the rain on the 23rd to bring gifts to two neighbors who most needed the boost, a lonely elderly woman and a woman in one of my ESL classes from the Ukraine. Our rewards for being heedless of the wind and weather were huge smiles and two wonderful gingerbread cookies. Shaye was delighted to find "Grandfather Deer" again.

By the second day of Yule, a steady downpour had turned the snow into a dangerous mix of ice and slush. It was almost impossible for anyone to drive in the mess. We went out caroling in the rain on the 23rd to bring gifts to two neighbors who most needed the boost, a lonely elderly woman and a woman in one of my ESL classes from the Ukraine. Our rewards for being heedless of the wind and weather were huge smiles and two wonderful gingerbread cookies. Shaye was delighted to find “Grandfather Deer” again.

On the fourth day of Yule, the spirits and grandma gave to Shaye and Marik an electric piano, a little red wagon and much joy.

On the fourth day of Yule, the spirits and grandma gave to Shaye and Marik an electric piano, a little red wagon and much joy.

During the holidays we went to visit the in-laws in South Bohemia and while there we encountered the one great sorrow of the season. My 19-year-old American niece Ember was along to see the Czech relatives and my mother-in-law and father-in-law took the opportunity to try to lecture her on the dangers of living without a television and the genetic flaws of the Romani people. When my husband came in the later topic started to get out of control. Ember had the presence of mind to check whether the children were within earshot and, since they were in the next room, she left carrying them. Having overheard raised voices, I was coming to find the children when I met Ember and the children leaving the scene. The children appeared oblivious to the poisonous racist rhetoric being produced… this time at least. While we are blessed in so many ways, the shadow of the times follows through every season.

Shaye knows that she and Marik are Romani. I think she is a bit confused about how it is that they are and we are not, although I have reassured her that we are all partly Romani because part of our family is Romani. She enjoys our few Romani books and fondly remembers our Romani language teacher, who couldn’t continue teaching due to major health problems. Shaye’s preschool teacher remains wonderfully open and welcoming of our cultural and ethnic differences and I have begun to do monthly volunteer workshops for the kids at the preschool about different cultures.

For now, the hardest part remains relations with the Czech side of our family. We continue to visit them because, aside from Ember, we have no other family here.

A rare and precious picture of us with Shaye and our Czech nieces Evicka and Bara during the holidays - Need I say more? This is why we keep going back despite the difficulties and conflicts.

A rare and precious picture of us with Shaye and our Czech nieces Evicka and Bara during the holidays – Need I say more? This is why we keep going back despite the difficulties and conflicts.

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