Incorporating American and Romanian Traditions

Ioana with new slippers, Milka, hand cream and her “bata” or stick!

It has been a long time since we have had a Christmas season as busy as this one is shaping up.  I’m guessing that the last time we were running around this much was when we lived in Romania working with twenty plus children in the two Global Hope children’s homes.

Pam and I wondered the other day if God didn’t plan for Ioana to come here to stay during this time because it is a great time to become accustomed to a new country.  Ioana is excited about Christmas, all of the lighted houses and she loves KOSI 101 fm which plays Christmas music non-stop.

Last week back in Romania they celebrated St. Nicholas day.  They call it the day of Mos Nicolae, which translates directly as Old Man Nicholas.  Each month a different saint is celebrated as part of the Orthodox culture and in December they celebrate St. Nicholas.  There is a legend that goes along with the story of Mos Nicolae but the tradition for children in Romania is to put their slippers out on the front step the night of December 5th.  If they have been good then they might find chocolate or sweets in their slippers.  If they are bad then they might get a stick.  Yes, the stick is intended for subsequent corporal punishment.  But alas, please don’t go calling social services just yet.  When we lived in Romania and you walked the streets in the days before Mos Nicolae you would find vendors in the town center.  They would sell elaborately decorated sticks and the tradition is that everybody gets a stick and this means that you are special or are loved by someone.  It is sort of like coal in the stocking at Christmas in America, except the sticks are less messy than coal!   😆

So while last Wednesday was crazy busy I was able to track down Mos Nicolae and direct him to the local Wal-Mart to find some slippers for both Ioana and Mama Pam.  Ioana is delighted that she can find Milka chocolate here so I instructed Mosul to buy her some chocolate as well.  Come the morning of December 6th Ioana had a surprise when she woke up!  Mosul came all the way to Broomfield from Romania for her!  And he even brought her a little stick in case she was a little bad!   😉

That night we even got around to decorating our house after the boxes had been brought up from the basement and sat around for some days on end.  We bought our tree just down at the grocery store but had only our little Toyota Corolla to bring it home which doesn’t work so well.  So I asked Ioana if I could use her walker to bring the tree home.  She said “Sure, why not?”  I loaded the tree on her walker and wheeled it straight home since we live right behind the supermarket.

Friends from our small group gave Ioana her own tree to decorate and have in her room. Their son, Chris, used to use it but he thought Ioana might appreciate it.

On Saturday we celebrated in traditional style by going to see The Nutcracker by Ballet Nouveau Colorado.  It was the first time for me, Pam and Ioana to see the ballet.  We were amazed by the performance and glad we were able to attend with our good friend Karen.

We hope that all of you are enjoying this time of year and finding some Christmas spirit.  Even though we are busy, we are so blessed by the experience of this year.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us.