When my husband then came home from work told me that there were rumors about some hooligans and agitators who were under the Securitate’s radar, and that they were trying to destabilize our society. Some said they were Russians, but others said they were from the Western Europe or even the US. Nobody knew exactly what was happening.
The communist leaders in every factory had given strict orders to the workers that after their shift to go directly at home and stay out of the streets after the dark.
We followed our Saturday routine, with my precious chicken soup simmering on the stove, our weekly celebration. I also made crepes and the children were happy. I had left the warm water faucet on to catch the moment when the city would give us warm water and fill the bathtub.
“Will Santa ‘Mos Craciun’ come to us, mama?”
“Oh, yes,” I reassured my children.
The tradition was to get the Christmas tree only a few days before Christmas and hide it from the children. Then on Christmas Eve, while the little ones were sleeping, the parents would decorate it with Christmas treats ‘saloane’, apples and walnuts in their shell.
It was sad that I didn’t have the money to get the treats or gifts yet until the 23rd of that month when my husband would get his salary.
After giving the kids a bath and putting them to sleep, I took out their church outfits for the next morning. It was important to have them dressed “properly” in their Sunday-only clothes in order to fit in our Baptist Church. You could never be over-dressed, and as sad as it was, I knew I had to keep up with the majority and keep the appearances.
My best friend and I had planned to go to church together next morning and we were meeting at the tramcar’s station a block away from us.
We waited for a long time at the station until a passerby told us that there was no public transportation available. We didn’t know why, but I could see my husband and my friend’s husband whispering something in each other’s ear. We decided that we should not miss our church service and we started to walk, holding our children’s hands.
When we reached Maria Square we saw that the bookstore there had the window broken, and a pile of books were partially burned in the middle of the sidewalk. The destroyed books were Ceausescu’s political allocutions that nobody bought.
It was silence. There were no personal cars on the street but a military truck rolling down in a low speed.
We didn’t dare to say anything to each other, but pulled the children’s hands to walk faster and kept up to the church.