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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this holiday - and at this time!  That may seem like a nutty sort of statement but most of the friends I have from childhood and summer camp days still celebrate the old date, January 7. We're in the middle of the holiday season, which never seems to end.

A funny story for you, my dear readers. (Sorry!  That sounds so forced!)   

On the day back to school after Christmas vacation when I was in Kindergarten, I came home in tears.  I'd found out, much to my horror, that I must have been a bad girl.  My English wasn't very good - I'd been at it only since school had started four months before - but I knew enough to realize that my friends had received their Christmas gifts and I'd received nothing.  Nothing at all!

My mom couldn't understand why I'd come home crying and I must truly have been sobbing.  Imagine how bad she felt when she realized that "Catholic" Christmas had been celebrated by all my new-found friends.  It never occurred to her that my friends would come to school with tales of what their loot or haul had been and I would be without any treasures.  Maybe she thought that I didn't know enough English yet to understand that we celebrated Christmas the old style, on January 7. 

That was the last time we celebrated Christmas only one day of the year.  After that, we celebrated Santa Claus and Christmas on December 25, "Western" or "New Style," with presents from my parents.  However, we also celebrated January 7 and Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), at which time we received presents from our Godparents and Grandparents.  

There is a funny bit I've found on quite a few places on the Internet stating, "You know you're Russian Orthodox if...."   One says, "you get great deals on Christmas trees and Easter candy" and that "you automatically deduct 13 days from today's date." That's because the Old Style is according to the old Julian Calendar and we in the West celebrate everything by the Gregorian calendar with a 13-day difference.  (Don't get me started on how Easter is figured out.)

Once I married we made the decision to celebrate only the New Style, considering that hubs is "western" and that was further cemented when we settled down to live in an area which doesn't have a Russian Orthodox Church. Our local church is Greek Orthodox and the Greeks - smartly - have changed their Christmas celebration to the "new" date.  But we don't discard or dismantle the tree until after January 7.  Technically, I should be waiting until January 14, the Old Style New Year's Day, but that is just way too long for me to wait. Imagine how dry the tree is by the time it gets discarded!  

If all goes well, we'll be celebrating Christmas Eve Russian/Ukrainian style tomorrow night.  There will be twelve separate dishes, one in honor of each of the Apostles.  I don't know how "traditional" it is to add a 13th dish, in honor of Christ, but our family always added in the 13th dish.  

I absolutely love Christmas Eve because on that day there are a few dishes which we (read my family and probably most) only eat on Christmas Eve, including "Vinigret," a delicious beet and potato salad with all sorts of goodies thrown in.  Most important is the "Kutya." It's wheat berries with poppy seeds, nuts, honey and other goodies thrown in, depending on what your family recipe is.  Hubs has become pretty good at fixing the kutya in the last few years.  Christmas Eve is lenten, so no meat nor dairy products, with many forms of fish. On Christmas Eve I suddenly like herring! 

On Christmas Day we have another pig-out meal: the kind most would imagine, with the turkey, mashed potatoes and so forth.  By then we are dragging.  We'll have been celebrating since late October with my birthday, then Halloween, Thanksgiving, hubs' birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day now behind us, New Years still to get over with, then nominally recognizing the old Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's.  

And I wonder why I got CFS and fibromyalgia?  Hmmmm... I might want to think about that! ;)

And any rate, I wish all a Happy Holiday, as well as a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.  As always, I hope that everyone's feeling and doing their very best - only better.  Ciao and paka! 

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  1. Merry Christmas, Irene! I wish you and your family a happy day and also a better 2014!

    1. Thank you, Martha. Wishing you and yours a wonderful day and a much more peaceful 2014! xx

    2. I have fibromyalgia too along with failed neck & back syndrome from surgeries that didnt work. I suffer daily. There is rarely a good day anymore. Im only 42! Results of a terrible car accident in '05. Thats when all ugly medical issues reared their ugly heads & decided to change my life forever.

  2. Thanks for the festive post Irene! Love the sound of your delicious menu. Wishing you and your lovely family a very Happy Christmas. May the New Year be kinder and better to you. Alpa xx

    1. Merry Christmas, Alpa! Thanks so much for your kind wishes. I, too, wish you a New Year that is much better than the last. May this holiday season be one your best ever. xx

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Berry. Merry Christmas to you as well! xx

  4. Christmas is near . I am waiting and counting . I have a plan in this Christmas . I will have a barbie look with my long white dress . It will be so stunning and appreciable. I would also love to have barbie make up and accessories.