Wahoo- it’s finally Christmas! I just finished my last private English lesson (which Burke came along for since he had NO excuse not to) and now I am officially free.
By the way, here we are. I picked out this nice melon-colored shirt for Burke, coincidentally I also happened to buy a sweater the exact same color on the same day. I threatened to match him and he clamorously disagreed. I was forced to forget I ever mentioned it. Until one day when Burke just looked so darn cute leaving for work in his melon shirt and black sweater; I still had a few hours before I had to be at Narnia so I quickly weighed out all my pros and cons and decided that this would be the day we would match. Embarrassed as he was, we still got several compliments.
School is flying by this year, and generally keeps me laughing just about every day. A few weeks ago two third grade girls wanted to go to the bathroom together and I told them no, they could each go but not together. They protested with the argument that they wouldn’t talk. If that were true, what’s the point? I didn’t know, so, intrigued, I questioned further, eventually getting them to say that they wanted to go to the bathroom “because Bloody Mary.” What exactly that means to them I don’t think I’ll ever know… with the language barrier some things are still difficult/not worth ever trying to explain. Later those two girls tried to bribe me with candy straws to let them to the bathroom together.
There is another girl in that class who loves asking me all sorts of questions, usually about natural disasters, America, and the life of Hannah Montana. Here’s a good conversation we had recently…
Girl: Mrs. Lizzie, you live in America?
Me: No, I live in Slovakia. I am from America.
Girl: Do you like America?
Me: Yes, I do, but I like Slovakia too.
Girl: I DON’T like America.
Me: Why? How do you know?
Girl: In the America, people are FAT!!!
Me: “In America,” not “in the America.” But yes, some people in America are fat, but some people are fat all over the world. Not in Slovakia though, people are very thin here.
Other girl in class: Mrs. Lizzie is not fat.
Me: Okay, thanks.
Girl: And in the America, there are TERRORISTS!
Me: Well yes, but there are terrorists all over the world.
Girl: BOOM! (showing emphatically with her hands a large explosion)
Girl: In the America is California. In the California is Tennessee. In the Tenn…
Me: No, California is a State and Tennessee is a state.
Girl: In the Tennessee is Nashville and in the Nashville is Miley Cyrus.
Me: Oh geesh.
So if you ever wanted to know what it was like teaching English in an elementary school, that about sums it up. Truthfully, I really enjoy conversations like that. That girl doesn’t may much attention during lessons, but she makes up for it by speaking to me a lot throughout the day.
Last week we spent a lot of time preparing for the Christmas Besiedkas, which as far as I’ve gathered means something between a party and a program. I worked on this video for a long time with my kids.
Twas the Night Before Christmas from Zakladna skola Narnia on Vimeo.
Although it feels a little like Christmas here, it’s definitely not the same as the Christmas season in America. I think one of the biggest things is that houses aren’t decorated. Families put up a few things inside but there are not lights trimming their houses, and there are definitely not those huge blow up things that go in the yard.
Many people have asked us if we will miss our family during Christmas. Hmm I think that is best summed up with one word… “duh.” Thankfully we know some amazing families here that we will spend the day with and there are other colorful Slovak traditions that we look forward to taking part in (or not).
Slovaks have three days of Christmas. The 24th which is the main day with their immediate families and all the presents; it’s called Generous Day, but in Slovak of course. The 25th is the First Holy Day and the 26th is the Second Holy Day. On the 25th they get together with extended family and have Kapustnica, a sour kraut and sausage soup. It is also a tradition that they get a big, live carp and let it swim in their bathtub for the week before Christmas before finally eating it. (We’ll skip out on that one). As far as I can tell, not that many Slovaks like, or follow this tradition.
The funniest part of the Slovak Christmas is their Santa Clause. They don’t need Santa Clause because they have Mikulaš (St. Nicholas) on December 5th. So, who better to bring the Christmas presents than…. Baby Jesus! According to the stories, Baby Jesus comes around to every house in Slovakia and brings all the kids presents; they even write letters asking for what they want. It’s nice that the Slovaks include Jesus since it is His holiday, but there are also some major problems with this tradition. In the US, kids stop believing in Santa and then what? Nothing. But here, they stop believing in Jesus??! Don’t worry, we voice these concerns and they tell us that kids who go to church don’t really believe that Ježiško is bringing their presents. So maybe it is less confusing for the Christian kids, but what about the rest of them? In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye out for a Jesus style Santa House where kids go and sit on a big baby’s lap asking for their Christmas requests.
I’ll probably post about our actual Christmas holiday again soon so check back, but until then Veselé Vianoce!