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December 12, 2006

Missing My Ukrainian Christmas

I spoke with someone on the phone today and recognized the lilt in her accent. While her English was flawless and accent faint, it was just enough for me to ask her where she was from. Ukraine. Kyiv. She hasn't been there in 15 years. My memories are more recent than hers.

As we are in the holiday season, a lot of memories and "traditions" we made in the few years we were there are making me sad and nostalgic. I liked having the season paced a bit slower than in the States. Our family observing Advent. Christmas on December 25th, celebrated with our family and teammates. New Year's--which has the traditions and emphasis in Ukraine that we have here with Christmas. That was celebrated with our Ukrainian friends Then Ukrainian Christmas in January. Then Old New Year around the 13th. Each celebrated slightly differently, but still sharing some traditions and the spirit of the holidays.

The temperatures have dipped slightly. Enough to wear a sweater or coat and not look like you're totally out of your mind. While in general I love the Florida weather, right now I'm missing Ukraine's winter. Watching the snow fall, looking out from our 15th floor flat and seeing a fairyland instead of grey concrete block buildings.

I haven't kept in touch very much with our friends or teammates in Kyiv. But as I'm doing my Christmas shopping, I'm mentally picking out gifts for Sasha and Laura, Dima and Erik.

Added on later: One of the things I have really been missing is our annual trek to Dyetski Mir, Children's World. It is a 4 story department store, and the top floor is all kids' toys. Really it had an impressive collection of kids' things. Hubby and I would get a babysitter and then go Christmas shopping for the boys. One of our favorite toys we found were little plastic guys (like green army guys) but specific to a historical period. We got knights and vikings and lots of neat things. Unfortunately, by the time we discovered them, the toy factory in Donetsk had already been closed. Typed out, this doesn't sound very exciting, but it was one of our "traditions" that I miss.


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I am glad to find someone with a Ukrainian connection. We spent some time in Ukraine last sumer for an adoption. Some of your photos of Kyiv look very familiar. Slava Bogu!

Posted by: Jonathan at December 13, 2006 07:00 AM

My wife and I have been experiencing something similar - although from a different continental perspective. It's amazing how quickly a person adapts to a new way of celebrating an event that is so part of how we define "culture". And it's amazing how quickly we lose touch with those who for so long were family.

Posted by: jonathan at December 13, 2006 10:20 AM

I've had the same thoughts about our east african home. We're in an apt. now and everything is so temporary that I find I have to make more of an effort to remember the joy of the season. When we were there we used to have about 3 weeks of christmas and related activity, I'm worried about being disappointed on the 27th when the curtain comes down on christmas here.

Posted by: amoore at December 13, 2006 11:15 AM

My daughters (Russian-born) have been home with us for a little over four years--they are now 16 & 13 yrs. old. They VERY much miss the beauty of the snow you mentioned-- but have enjoyed the MANY family traditions that they now enjoy with us! If only we could blend the best of both of their worlds! Blessings to you and your family this Christmas!

Posted by: connie at December 15, 2006 03:33 PM

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