Monday, December 16, 2019

'My Most Meaningful Christmas Present' A 2017 post repeat

My Most Meaningful Christmas Present

One day this week, someone posted this question on Facebook, "What was the most meaningful Christmas present you ever received?" Answers ranged from a return to health to a jet black Jaguar and everything in between. No matter what you perceive to be the gift you'll always treasure beyond all others, that special something is always tied to a specific time and place in your life.

Christmas Eve was a very sacred event in our family when my brother and I were growing up. Since we lived in Zedo's house, naturally his rules on this day were religiously upheld. No one other than the immediate family members were permitted to enter the house and sit down for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Once seated with Zedo at the head of the table, Baba to his right, and the rest of the guests gathered according to seniority, Zedo would pray in Slovak, then lift his shot glass to wish his wife, children, their spouses, and his grandchildren a blessed Christmas. The adults did likewise as they toasted Zedo in return. Next every child would stand and recite Christmas wishes in Slovak. Zedo and Baba would beam with pride to listen to us, perhaps going back in their minds to their childhoods when they'd done the same so long ago.

(Since we all attended Catholic school, the nuns began teaching us a festive speech early in November. No two classes ever learned the same greeting for that particular year.)

The women would then return to the kitchen to bring out the mushroom soup. Everyone received a small bowl and ate the sour mixture in silence. We were told that the meaning behind the soup was a reminder of the suffering we all must face in life. And since it wasn't the most pleasant-tasting soup in my opinion, the suffering started right then and there, at least for me!

When the bowls were removed, traditional favorites like babalki, langosh, navy beans, and fish were passed around the table and enjoyed along with happy conversation and boisterous laughter. At the end of the meal, Zedo again said a prayer of thanks, and after hugs and kisses, everybody returned home. Those who left would be back on Christmas Day to gather around Zedo's table once more, this time including some very special family friends.

As clean-up got underway, my brother and I were told to go upstairs, get into our jammies, and jump in bed! Nobody had to tell us twice on this Night of Nights!
About an hour or two later, we'd hear a loud bang and run to the top of the stairs. Zedo would be standing at the bottom, smiling and pointing to all the presents surrounding the 8ft. tall tree he'd cut and trimmed just days ago.

I know it's taken me a while to get to my most meaningful Christmas present, so here goes. Instead of rushing to see who's name was on the largest package like my brother, I'd immediately go to my stocking hanging from the mantle. It was about two feet long and always contained the same things each and every year until we were practically in our teens. There would be a coloring book, a fresh box of crayons, a drawing pad, pencils, gloves, socks, candy canes, AND MY MOST MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS PRESENT, the largest, roundest orange I'd ever seen that smelled absolutely heavenly! It was always on the very top of the stocking so I could see its brilliant color peeking out as if to say, 'Merry Christmas, sweetheart, and a Blessed and Peaceful New Year!' I would hold it gently in both hands and kiss its sweet skin. Just looking at this simple piece of fruit brought tears to my eyes, yet put a smile on my lips.

The orange had and still does have a special place in my heart since it was my Dad's favorite fruit. Baba told me that he'd even eat the peels!

Merry Christmas, Dad, and a Blessed and Peaceful New Year!
Always and forever!

One last note on our Christmas Eve dinner: By today's standards, our family's traditional meal would be considered a 'poor man's' sustenance, but we felt like royalty at my Zedo's table!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Many of Today's Women Say 'NO' to Marriage

I guess since I've been married for 51 years, I found it inconceivable that the women of today, especially in the 30-55 age group, were not interested in getting hitched. In my day, the usual age for females to wed was between 19 - 28, and if you hadn't found a man by age 30 chances are you were going to be an 'old maid'! EGADS! HEAVENS TO BETSY!

When I think of those times, back in the 50's and 60's, women didn't have the same advantages as they do currently. Our career choices were limited to becoming teachers, nursers, or secretaries. These types of jobs paid little, certainly not enough to be self-supporting homeowners. The other option was to stay at home, cook, clean, and look nice for your man. Usually the 'old maids' remained with their parents, living under their roof and rules until mom and dad passed. Only then did these 'poor souls' inherit the house which was already paid for so their responsibilities were minimal and opportunities nil.

Over the last few years, I've spoken to a number of  women who are not interested in getting married and offer viable reasons for their decision. Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with one such young lady nearing thirty, which by the way no longer carries the dreaded 'old maid' stigma, who explained in detail why marriage was not an option for her. Being college-educated, she holds a great job, manages rent, all the necessities of life and still has monies to occasionally splurge on herself, vacation from time to time, and do so without having the need to consult with a man about anything! She highly values her independence and freedom to do as she pleases and, most likely, will remain single at least for the foreseeable future.

This confident woman also told me she did not have the desire to be a mother.
These points are the gist for her reasoning:
1. Birthing a child would make her responsible for another human being for life.
2. Bringing a child in to the chaotic world we live in would make her feel extremely guilty.
3. She believed she did not have the patience for children.
4. If she were to become incapacitated, not being able to care for children would be devastating.
5. Being blessed with family members' children fulfilled any motherly instincts she possessed.

I was WOWed by the amount of time she'd spent considering marriage and motherhood. Not wishing to wed was suddenly not as inconceivable as I had previously thought, and actually was beginning to make sense!

Most of the women that were married and divorced uttered the same mantra, 'Been there, done that' and decided upon the single life henceforth.  These ladies were in the 35-55 age category, educated, career-oriented, self-sufficient, confident, and without commitment to one person. Their freedom to enjoy male company and the fringe benefits that go along with it were particularly important to all of them.

The reasons these women cited for their decision not to remarry were as follows:
1, Married too young and not ready to settle down.
2. Had to give up their aspirations in favor of their male partner making them feel less adequate.
3. Were mistreated in one way or another.
4. If having had children, fathers were minimally involved or not at all.
5. Having little to no input into how monies of the household were spent.

In most cases, marriage in their future was not even a close consideration.

After listening to all of the reasons today's women are saying 'no' to marriage, I realized they had valid objections and couldn't refute their decision. Although I still feel that marriage can be a lifelong partnership as it is for my hubby and me, filled with joy and contentment at times, discord and resentment at other times, and compromise most of the time, I now know that it's not for everyone.

For those who choose the single life, I not only support your choice, but applaud your courage to face everything that comes along with strength and conviction. I pray you are blessed with good fortune and good friends. I hope your dreams are fulfilled and life treats you kindly.

'I am Woman, hear me Roar' comes to mind...

Blessings and Peace!