Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yes we will be there for (insert holiday) lunch/dinner....

Ahh holidays...a time to get together, to share meals, to catch up with family and to carry on traditions. Oh yeah that's the Hallmark version.  For most of us the holidays are all of the above but they are also laced with guilt about where to be during them, the dysfunctionality of all families, and a lot of stress. Is it worth it ? At some point you will ask yourself this question, unless you are heavily medicated and just trying not to drool while getting through them. For me the stuff that makes me shudder is nothing compared to the memories I have from these gatherings.


 If you have a mixed family, and let's face it in the US and particularly New York this is likely, the jumble of cultures and cuisines leads to "spirited" times.  In order to be able to not have to decide between one set of families or another I have taken on some holidays.  My Mother really did not let this go gracefully, who am I kidding she often has a second of the holiday at her house the day after complete with all the Romanian dishes I did not have at my gathering. My sister-in-law once asked me why do I ask about menu preferences, her theory is what you get is what she made with the best intentions so if you do not like it, there is always bread or dessert.  She is a gourmet cook, brilliant, and lives at least 3000 miles from any of the nearest family to her or her husband.  Many of my family gatherings have only a smattering of non-Romanians. I have to say the Romanians are welcoming and insist on talking to the "Americans" (they will probe about your nationality at some point in the evening as they are not a reserved people) in English (no matter if they can actually speak it well or not), translating jokes that often are only funny in the mother tongue or the best part - asking the person who brought the American why their guest is not eating enough while using obvious head gestures to indicate they are talking about that person. I usually try to also caution those who may be from more reserved cultures that if you ask how they are they will tell you even if it is bad, will give unsolicited advice and they will hug, kiss, and maybe even shed a tear or too at some point during the get together.  They are also not big believers in moderation, they eat, laugh, drink and yes even smoke more than they should and assume you are going to join them if you are there.  The smoking has moved to outside quarters for the sake of the children since I was a child (irony not lost on me either).  It has also led to many moments that have become family lore.

Among the favorites is one involving my cousin's husband.  He is a soft spoken guy which right there tells you he is not Romanian. He was over one year and my mother served a lovely baked good for dessert (she is a killer baker).  He asked her what it was called.  My Mom speaks English well but with an accent so her response was "Not stroodle"...he looked, smiled and said "it's good so what is it?"....she gave him a puzzled look and said a little louder "Not stroodle"....now we were paying attention and he in his best non-aggravated tone said "can you tell me what it is? I thought some sort of strudel but you said it is not "...the look she gave him is classic Romanian "what is wrong with you" and his said "she's off her rocker with this"....and she said "NOT STROODLE"...so we intervened and in Romanian asked her what was in it ...my cousin then translated "it's nut strudel"....we all laughed and my Mother walking away said "that is exactly what I kept saying".....with that I wish you all who celebrate something on this weekend to remember that the times you spend with your family, friends or both are what the best memories are born from.  Thought it may not always easy the traditions you pass on are priceless, and so are the stressful moments you inevitably learn to laugh about when re-telling.....

1 comment:

  1. I can definitely relate to this, especially this weekend lol. I love finding humor in almost anything, have a beautiful holiday!!

    ReplyDelete