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Best Family Christmas Ever
Till this day, 1959 was the most magical for me and that is *the Christmas* I want to recreate each and every year.
This was the very best family Christmas ever. My Moms clan was finally all present in Belgium. Grandma,Grandpa and Uncle Franky ( he was only two years older then me) had just arrived from Hungary three weeks ago.
After impatiently waiting, and waiting most of the day, we all met at Aunt Ilonas place in the afternoon for drinks and snacks. Which were clearly Grandma's specialty.
The hottest, sweetest most scrumptious Apple Cider in the whole wide world with walnut and apricot double-decker cookies.
I was only six years old but those cookies were what I would call "two-handers" absolutely huge humongous monsters. If I close my eyes and concentrate I can still smell and taste that vanilla-sugar-sprinkled-melt-in-your-mouth-two-layer cookie. Can you smell it too? Hmmm! A blend of fragrances, Vanilla, apples, cinnamon and pine tree...yum
I'm positive this is the reason why I still love apple cider and apricot double-deckers.
Our Christmas eve celebration was the most important to us kids because the "Kristus Kind" (Christ Child) came and gave us presents. A toy and a couple of pieces of clothes.
In typical child focus, the gifts and not much else mattered. We ate a tradition-filled special supper. By which time, sleepy or not, it was off to church, for midnight mass. Which always started at eleven, and then concluded with a lantern lit trek to the holy family set up in the manger around the corner in the church yard. It was quite magical even though most years our area of Belgium had no snow for Christmas. Everyone sang Christmas carols, until at the stroke of midnight the bells from every Church in town rang and rang in celebration of the birth of Christ. At the end of the bell symphony a bugle played an amazing rendition of 'Silent Night'. After, we all went home and to bed.
"Kristus Kind" needed enough time to go from house to house to leave the gifts, so we had to stay away from our home.
Grandpa offered to take us kids for a nice walk around town after the Cider and Cookies.
He was one brave, brave man -ten kids- the oldest, cousin Icuka, not quite ten, the youngest me six, the rest all in between.
I remember the evening as absolutely magical, walking around town, the streets decorated,, all the dressed up store windows...In the twelve years we lived in Belgium I can only recall having snow three or four times .
That Christmas 1959, shortly after we left Aunt Ilonas home it started to snow those big enormous flakes. By the time we reached the town centre which had a music pavilion on one side and the lit up Christmas tree on the other- there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Just enough to have a bit of a snow-ball fight, which really didn't last very long because none of us kids had brought gloves or mittens.
Gramps had the most splendid sense of humor and could tell stories on top of stories which we listened to with awe but each of his tales always ended in some kind of ridiculous situation that had us kids all roaring from laughter. Amazingly Gramps had no problems in keeping us in-line. This was to be the only Christmas we were to have in Belgium together. Had I known that the family was prepping to leave for Canada (except for us) It really would have saddened me because I just loved Gramps and Grandma so much.
Gramps was not a big man, only 5'5" and maybe hundred and thirty-five pounds with rocks in his pockets, but was as tough and strong as they come. The only thing major about him was his voice. It was deep, melodious and booming and man could he sing those old Hungarian tunes, and whistle, 'man-oh-man' was he great. He would not have needed a microphone if he would have sang at a stadium...
On that magical evening, in a town, far far away from our native Hungary- His life and his families life in a turmoil. A totally unknown future in front of him. Grandpa let us kids know what Christmas really means...
All his stories he told that night were about Christ's birth, the animals in the manger (tooting to warm up the air) magic, love, family, friends, snow, cold, winters beauty all around- then finally eight o'clock hit when we met the rest of our clan at our door.....
Wow!!! A beautiful baby doll and a doll carriage for me, just what I had asked for on my wish list... How did "Kristus Kind" know what I wanted????
Now for the food we're starving