Tuesday, December 28, 2010

X-mas in three sentences... or less

Trying something new... rather than rambling for hours and leaving out so many things I'd like to say, today's post is a number of short thoughts - as the title suggests, three sentences or less. Obviously, there is more to each story, just let me know if you're interested. Look, even this introduction is only three sentences! :)

I'm so thankful to have a break from work for almost two weeks. It is especially nice since my schedule is changing yet again come January. I'll be teaching my regular two days at school, one day at the Pomaz kindy, one day at Daisy - the other foundation kindy, and one day at school writing three music curricula.

Hungarian Christmas
This year marked my first "Hungarian" Christmas. The other times I've been here, Christmas was always celebrated with my family so it was decidedly American, even though we were living in Hungary. My friend, Edit, and her family invited me to their house for Christmas Eve/Day so I was able to experience an actual Hungarian Christmas.

Christ and Family
Christmas is very family and Christ centered here. I was completely welcomed into Edit's family for the time I was there, from dozens of puszik (greeting kisses on each cheek) to even getting a present from what the Angel (not Santa Claus) put under the tree. Between the Christmas Eve Pastoral Play, reading the Nativity story by the tree, and Midnight Mass, approximately 2.5 hours (at least) were spent focusing on the real reason for Christmas and only 20minutes (tops) was spent on presents - quite a shift from the traditional American Christmas.

Compared to what I'm used to, presents were a meager affair - but not in a negative sense; from my observations, the socks, candy, books, and other small items were just as (if not more) appreciated than the massive piles of stuff common in the States. I received a beautiful, Hungarian pottery candlestick holder and two candles. The Angel (parents) brings the presents so there is no "need" to buy extravagant presents for your family.

Christmas Eve is still considered part of the Advent fast (even though it takes place after the reading of the Nativity story and presents), so the meal is traditionally fish. We had salmon which worried me a little because I hadn't tried it since I was a kid and had hated it then. I needn't have worried - it was delicious: much less frightening than fish soup could have been as it often includes "delicacies" like fish brains.

Dinner on Christmas Day is a huge family affair - we had 13 people, after a couple of last minute cancellations, including Edit, her parents, her sister and brother, her boyfriend, an aunt and uncle, a cousin and her boyfriend, grandma, great-grandma, and me. Between what Edit's family had made and the things her aunt brought, there were at least five types of meat, rice, potatoes, a couple of salads, cake, begli (nut/poppy seed dessert rolls), and various wines and liquors. Everything I tried was wonderful.

Small World
Edit's aunt, uncle, and cousin used to live in Columbus, OH. Even stranger, Goci, Edit's boyfriend, attended Szent Imre Gimnazium, where I went to school the first time we were in Hungary. In fact, we were both in 7th grade that year and he said I seemed familiar, although we must have been in different classes.

I had to leave before Christmas dinner was over so I could hurry home for a skype date with my family to open presents. It was really nice to "see" them, even with the usual squabbling and such. In a way, it was hard though; it's easier to forget how much I miss them when I don't have such a tangible reminder of how far away I am.

I'll Be Home for Christmas: 2010 Ex-pat version
I'll be home for Christmas
You can wave at me.
Please share snow, I've got none, though
You'll see my tiny tree.

Christmas Day will find us
Ocean in between.
I'll be home for Christmas
But only on this screen.
(OK, that's four sentences, I guess)

English Mass
I've often thought that Fr. Lajos, the main priest for our Saturday English Mass community, could be very good friends with FSH from Seton Hill. Sadly, Christmas Mass proved that once again with a homily that included gems such as "I feel bad for anyone who believes Christ was born in a manger," "We need to discover the humanity of Christ so we can discover our own divinity," and "God doesn't put us in situations we don't like," along with an ad-libbed Consecration. Only God knows if it was even a valid Mass.

After Mass was our regular tea gathering, this week including an impromptu carol-sing. Then I went to South Budapest with some family friends for a rousing game of Monopoly, pizza, and rebroadcasts of Christmas services from Britain.

Sunday Mass was trying to say the least. The problem with the "choir" seems to be getting larger every week. If I hadn't already decided to leave, Sunday would have helped make that decision.

Tenor Gorgeousness
One of the highlights of my break has been the Attila Dolhai Christmas Concert on Sunday afternoon. Of the many things that struck me, the strongest was "it's really fun to watch a performance when the performer is having fun" - something I need to remember more when I sing. The music selection ranged from Christmas songs (both Hungarian and English) to pieces from various musicals - a Sing-along version of "Zene az vagyok en" (I am the music) from Mozart! was fun but Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar was unreal - and then the second half was "original" songs. (OK, this paragraph is going to be longer... sorry ... haha) I can honestly say that I have sung with Attila Dolhai (well, along with the other 100's of people who were at the concert but I'll leave that part out). After a couple of encore pieces, the 2.5 hour concert finally ended with a simple, quiet arrangement of Csendes Ej (Silent Night) - too beautiful for words.

Well, that's all for today. I'd love to hear from you if you're reading this... what you like, what you don't like, thoughts, anything really (no rotten tomatoes though please... I only like fresh ones). Merry Fourth Day of Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading. It reminds me of the place that became my home. :)

    Merry Christmas!