Parenting and War

On December 1989  I had a 6 years old, a 4 years old and I was 30 weeks pregnant. It was war on the streets. The people were fighting to overcome the communists. The men in our block-of-flats had blocked the entry and chained the gate to keep away the armed agents of the system. We could hear gun shots from our condo and the children and I were pretty scared. There was some food in the fridge and, with all the madness in the city, I was thankful that we still had water, electricity and heat.


The children were playing all day long since the hard situation was prolonging from days to weeks. Every time when we went to buy the basics from the store at the end of the street, I knew it wasn’t safe to be out there. People were killed everywhere, even in the hospitals. There were cars riding on the streets with armed killers who would shot anybody. My husband was a guard for a new politician in the city and I had to buy the necessities for us. I walked and prayed.

We had a Christmas tree in the living room and nothing to decorate it. We didn’t have gifts for the children.

On Christmas Eve I wrote a note on a paper with “Santa couldn’t come this year because of the war,” and put it on in the bare tree to read it to my little ones. Of course they were disappointed, but I had saved some flour and eggs and made a cake for them. That was it.

We celebrated Christmas with our hearts and hiding from bullets in the bathroom.



From One Single Mother to Another

Tricia-Somers-and-Wesley_1It’s Christmas Eve. Families everywhere get together. You may or may not have loved ones around. Even if you have them, one place would still be empty. The warm spot in your soul. Children, and then our parents, siblings, friends if we have, fill our life, or not, but at least they make it whirl.
There are times like this when we might have an acute feeling that something is missing.
We are still in our pjs at midday on Christmas Eve and trying to figure out how to fix the stove or unplug the toilet. The kids, full of sugar, fight over the iPad.
Ah, if there would be a land for single mothers where we could hide instantly by opening the door of our closet.
Until then, we need to hang on. The help is on his way.
Merry Christmas!

That Night Called Wonder


I couldn’t understand how I’ve never stumbled over our Christmas tree while it was hidden behind our pantry door waiting for the big day. My parents used to put me early to sleep on Christmas Eve with, “Santa is on his way with the tree.” It was an enigma how they managed decorating it in perfect silence, three feet from my bed, without waking me up.

There were no carols on the radio, since the regime didn’t allow that kind of music. The only sound in the house was of the firewood crackling in the stove.

When the gifts were under the tree on the table and everything was ready, my parents started caroling in a low voice. Deep inside my sleep I could hear the melody. My head was still heavy and I felt tired, but the excitement pulled me to the edge of the bed.

Dad had lighted small candles attached to the tree and the glitter kept me in awe.The mystery was so sweet that I didn’t want to disturb it. And I was just sitting there and breathing in the fragrance of oranges. while my parents were singing with tears in their eyes.

Sometimes Santa knocked at the door, but that’s another little story.


Papa Said “No”

I was walking with my 20 month old granddaughter yesterday. They live in a beautiful neighborhood with beach cottages and houses hidden behind trees and flower bushes.
Our little one kept running all the way down the street. Tired already, I was trying to remember when toddlers stop running and choose to just walk? Well, I didn’t remember that and continued following her in a fast pace.
I could tell she had learned keeping the sidewalk since she wasn’t interested in running to the road. But she liked getting on the small paths to the houses’ front doors.
Aware of that, I kept holding her hand when we passed by a new house. She didn’t like it and tried to have us go to the front door, until I said:
“Papa said ‘No.’ “
She looked at me, frowned and stopped.
We walked further and when she run towards a new front yard again, I used the same words:
“Papa said ‘No.’ ”
She stopped visible unpleased.
We continued playing that game and it worked.
My poor mama ( I said “poor” because I was stubborn and didn’t want to listen, ) she tried that magic with me as well.
“Just wait until your father comes home.”
Sometimes that worked, as well.

I Was Santa

serbare_craciun-gr_mica 032

Years ago it was a shortage of “Santas” at the school where I was teaching. The elementary teachers were trying to find somebody to play that role for their students’ Christmas pageant. A year before they hired a Santa from a cab company but, with his jeans sticking out under Santa’s pants and with not so many skills to fit in “Santa’s shoes,” the school didn’t want to take that risk again.

I didn’t know how that happened, but I decided to be Santa. My colleagues received my idea with enthusiasm, so I went and bought a Santa suit for myself. They said I looked “good.”

The school celebrations with me as Santa turned out hilarious. None of the children nor their parents recognized me, as I performed my role with a deep voice. I remembered this little girl looking at me in awe.

“Santa, you are so beautiful.”

I barely could keep from laughing and was thankful for the long beard that covered my face up to my eyes.

A few parents waited for me at the end and hired me to drop by their house on Christmas Eve. One of them planned to be my driver for that evening. When some of my friends heard about my new hobby, they put their names on my list, too.

It was Christmas Eve and we were singing carols at my church. After a while I rushed in one of the rooms and changed into Santa’s suit. A car was waiting for me outside in the snow.

We rolled from one address to another. The children were delighted to have Santa come by with gifts. They recited poems and sang carols and I had a blast.

I kept being Santa for the next few years until we moved far away.

There are still former students among my friends on the social media who greet me with “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

Merry Christmas!




Parenting Then

Pic5It was springtime 1970 when my parents couldn’t get their time off for their vacation for summertime. They could buy some vacation time in the mountains at a reasonable price through the Union, but only during my school.

One day dad came home with tickets for us to go to a resort in the mountains for 12 days in the month of October. I remember mom and dad sitting at the table in the kitchen and trying to figure it out how to make that work.

“We can’t take her from school for 12 days,” mom said.

They both knew that. After toiling in the factory for a whole year, staying at home during their short vacation wasn’t a happy choice. My parents called me at the table to talk to me.

“How do you feel living with your uncle and aunt while we go to the mountain this coming fall?”

It was not the news I was waiting for.

“Are you going without me?” I asked. They always took me with them. My sister was three years old at that time. “What about Simona?”

“We want to take her with us.”

I was smart enough to understand that any pleading wouldn’t make any change. So, I saved my breath. But I didn’t give up on one strange plan for an 11 years old. Since our family and my uncle’s family had a common yard, my parents left me at home by myself, having my aunt and uncle checking on me during the day.

When I told my teacher that I was at home by myself and I could read my books for as long as I wanted, poor man was perplexed. I went to the school library and filled my mom’s grocery bag with lots of storybooks. As I walked back home, I stopped at the store and bought candies, chocolates and crackers, keeping in mind that I couldn’t spend all the money in one day.

My aunt was waiting for me with homemade lunch. I ate and then walked to our apartment. With nothing interesting on the TV, I dove into reading. Early in the morning I continued reading and eating sunflower seeds in bed, storing the shells in a cup.Then I went to school.

I was happy with eating nothing else for breakfast and having salty croissants with butter for my snack at school.

The twelve days went by like a beautiful dream. I had borrowed more books from the library and ate only sweets for my dinners.

As a surprise for my parents, I bought a living cornish hen from the farmers, asked one of my neighbors to cut it for me and I made my first soup.

Under the communism we had to survive.

Forty-five years later, I’m still here.