Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday in Advent

Caroline looks forward to the first day of Advent for months because, as she says, it's candle lighting time! Advent wreath candles, that is, helping C count down those long-for-her weeks until Christmas.

Since our wreaths are made out of fir and dry out quickly, I usually wait until the very first day of Advent to buy one, visiting the local floral store and the fancier shops in the malls. This year we didn't find anything we perfectly liked, and I had just about decided to buy the most passable version and prune it to satisfaction when I remembered that some of our Czech friends make their own wreaths.

Sure enough, a little digging around in our local shop turned up ribbonless wreaths, candles to spec and all the decoration you might want. We picked up a tiny mushroom in honor of Eurolush, golden pine cones which reminded me of the South, and dried cinnamon and oranges for C who thought they smelled divine.

Just before dinner, we constructed our wreath - C shows you how. Her favorite addition, held in the wings till last, is the angel given to her by one of the ladies in a neighborhood store. It was a present given to her for a smile and a long question in Czech. For her it represents serendipity, for me it's a reminder that behind stern public faces there are soft hearts. Soft hearts and hands that make beautiful wreaths, then light their candles in our December dark.

Thanksgiving in Prague

We don't take time off for the long Thanksgiving weekend, though I do get a little free and easy feeling, as if I'm on vacation rather than writing proposals until midnight. That's thanks to Facebook and the holiday high my friends from home catch on Thanksgiving Eve, when everyone turns giddy for a few hours before they head off for the long weekend.

So, no Thursday holiday but we did get to reap the rewards of another friend's day off and the huge turkey feast he cooked to show the children just what Thanksgiving is all about. It was a delicious turkey, and the food nearly made me weep (since he couldn't find cream of mushroom soup for the green beans he substituted bechamel, he's that kind of guy). The kids thought our story of the pilgrims and Indians more interesting than the food, but at least we all agreed that the crunchy Thai dried onion mix (our local replacement for french fried onions) was good on just about everything, not just the green beans.

Prague Thanksgivings come in at least twos, sometimes more, and Saturday is our traditional fancy dinner, celebrated with another set of friends, no children, until the wee hours of the night. This was our eighth year together, and there is something so civilized about being able to talk through a meal that we haven't yet invited the kids, though we did debate it. We eventually decided that as soon as they like turkey, they can come.

Next year it's my turn to host the kids for a Thursday night meal. We'll tell stories, I'll have onion mix and ketchup ready at hand to spice up the turkey and mashed potatoes. And I'll look forward to our Saturday night supper, sans children, but full of fun, good conversation and long lasting memories. Cheers to you Miss Marjorie C!