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LIVE LAUGH LOVE: December 2022

Byzantine Christmas

When I was growing up, our family celebrated two Christmases each year: one on December 25 and the other on January 7, which is Greek/Byzantine Christmas. See my acrylic and gold leaf painting of a Byzantine Madonna and Child to the right.


Booze was big in my father’s family as well as my mother’s, but Daddy had a glass of wine only every now and then, and my mother didn’t drink at all. Daddy’s brother Tony, though, was often falling-down drunk by the end of our visit to his house in Buck Run, Pennsylvania. Well, not quite falling down; he’d stand there near the kitchen table leaning toward one side and catching himself before he leaned too far. Then he’d overcompensate and lean too far on the other side and then continue like that, weaving back and forth.


Even when he wasn’t drunk, nobody talked when Uncle Tony talked. Not because he intimidated them. No, quite the opposite. The air was always charged with good cheer at his house. Nobody talked when he talked because you couldn’t out-boom Uncle Tony. And when he laughed, coughing up coal dust phlegm from working in the mines, I swear the whole house shook. Or maybe just wobbled a little.


Their house was in the woods. Leading up to the front door were rickety stairs that once tasted paint, but the flavor was gone. When we went to visit Uncle Tony and his family, you could smell Auntie Mary’s cooking before you even reached the rickety stairs. Even for Christmas, it was ham and halupkies, which I loved. If you’re not Slovak and never heard of a halupki, it’s ground beef, rice and onions wrapped in a cabbage leaf, a couple dozen of them nuzzling stewed tomatoes.


Uncle Tony was not only loud and jovial, he was also generous. He didn’t make much money, but he’d empty his pockets and give us kids any money he had there. He even did that after he went on the wagon for good.


Uncle Tony, Auntie Mary, my parents, and my siblings are all long gone now, but I fondly remember the fun we had and the warmth of family – and I wanted to share these with you.


P.S. Please be generous, like my Uncle Tony, and donate to Questa Del Rio News to help keep our local newspaper alive and free.


Una Navidad Bizantina

Por Ellen Wood


Cuando yo era niña, nuestra familia celebraba dos Navidades al año: una el 25 de diciembre y la otra el 7 de enero, que es la Navidad griega / bizantina. Abajo aparece una pintura mía en acrílico y con hojas de oro de una Virgen y un Niño bizantinos.


El alcohol era importante en la familia de mi padre, así como en la de mi madre, pero Papá solo tomaba una copa de vino de vez en cuando, y mi madre no bebía nada. Sin embargo, el hermano de Papá, Tony, a menudo se caía de borracho al final de nuestra visita a su casa en Buck Run, Pensilvania. Bueno, no se caía del todo; se paraba allí, cerca de la mesa de la cocina, inclinado hacia un lado y deteniéndose antes de inclinarse demasiado. Luego trataba de arreglar las cosas y se inclinaba demasiado hacia el otro lado y después seguía así, zigzagueando de un lado a otro.


Incluso cuando no estaba borracho, nadie hablaba cuando hablaba el Tío Tony. No porque los intimidara. No, todo lo contrario. El aire siempre estaba cargado de buen humor en su casa. Nadie hablaba cuando él hablaba porque no podías superar al Tío Tony. Y cuando se reía, tosiendo flema de polvo de carbón, pues trabajaba en las minas, juro que toda la casa se estremecía. O tal vez solo se tambaleaba un poco.


Su casa estaba en el bosque. Para llegar a la puerta principal había que subir unas escaleras desvencijadas que alguna vez supieron lo que era la pintura, pero esta ya había desaparecido. Cuando íbamos a visitar al Tío Tony y a su familia, se podía oler lo que cocinaba Tía Mary incluso antes de llegar a las desvencijadas escaleras. Incluso para Navidad había jamón y halupki, que me encantaba. Si no eres eslovaco y nunca has oído hablar de un halupki, te cuento que es carne de res molida, arroz y cebollas envueltas en una hoja de repollo, un par de docenas de estas con tomates guisados.


El Tío Tony no solo era ruidoso y jovial, sino que también era generoso. No ganaba mucho dinero, pero se vaciaba los bolsillos y nos daba a los niños todo el dinero que tenía en ellos. Incluso lo hizo después que dejó de beber para siempre.


El Tío Tony, la Tía Mary, mis padres y mis hermanos ya no están desde hace mucho tiempo, pero recuerdo con cariño las diversiones que teníamos y la calidez de la familia —y quería compartirlas con ustedes.
P.S. Por favor, sé generoso, como mi Tío Tony, y haz una donación a Questa Del Rio News para ayudar a mantener vivo y gratis nuestro periódico local.

Ellen Wood de Questa es una autora galardonada y una artista que usa el nombre de Maruška. El sitio web de sus libros y pinturas es www.NorthernNewMexicoArtists.com/ellen-wood. Para ponerse en contacto con Ellen escriba a ellen@howtogrowyounger.com.


Traducido por Teresa Dovalpage

Author

  • Ellen Wood

    Ellen Wood, born in 1936, is a prizewinning author, columnist and former management executive. After her youngest child began school, Ellen started an in-house ad agency and won 16 awards for annual report and advertising excellence, including 4 national awards. Five years after her mother died of Alzheimer’s, Ellen experienced early symptoms (she has the gene, APO-e4). At 68 she developed a program of mind/body/spirit techniques that proved so successful, she wrote and published “Think and Grow Young,” followed by “Joy! Joy! Joy!” (now retitled “The Secret Method for Growing Younger,” Volumes 1 and 2) and gave inspirational speeches. Since 2018 Ellen has been the ad agency for NorthStar Tire and Auto in Questa, NM. Ellen started painting in November of 2020, having dabbled at it in her 20s, and gave herself a new name: Maruška, her father’s middle name. She is overjoyed to be part of a big, loving, kindhearted family. You can find her paintings at www.northernnewmexicoartists.com/ellen-wood