Monday, December 27, 2004

When I was a little girl, the Serbian community was tiny.
We pretty well knew each other, or of each other.
Since the bombings, the Serbian community has exploded here.

Many of the “refugees” or immigrants don’t want to be here.
This is a bitter wave, and people of my generation often have the attitude of "shut up, and go back if you don't like it here, but stop yer bitchin' and get on with life..."
But, this wave is fundimentally different because, they are here out of necessity, sending money back home to those family members who are helping to rebuild.
They want to be back home.
But, home is so destroyed that many young people don’t feel that they have a future.
Pensioners are committing suicide because of the conditions they are forced to live in with no money, in a country that went without paying it’s workforce while it was rebuilding itself.

Why do I mention this today?

Because I was watching a CTV documentary called Teaching Peace in a Time of War and it brought tears to my eyes.
For so many reasons…. so many reasons, many which are hard to articulate.
To see and realize that there are children of my heritage who are not familiar with peace.
To know that as that time was passing, now over a decade, that for some reason I was out of touch with the reality of time passing.
That the children and future generation of the people of my nationality do not know what living without fear is.

That this country, that I have such fond and loving memories of has been bombed into a third world country.

To the average Canadian watching this documentary, about a Canadian Teachers’ mission to teach conflict resolution strategies to Serbian Elementary and High School Teachers, is a feel good experience.
When I was a young girl, I used to pine for my culture to be depicted somewhere in film, now I cringe…because I know that it will be a biased and insulting characterization.
This documentary made me sad, because it depicted an educated and civilized culture as backwards, and obtuse.

To me, it’s a painful, sad and bittersweet commentary on a country and culture I love pointlessly destroyed protecting its own land, and rebuilding itself again.


Sunday, December 19, 2004

And So The Holiday Season Begins.

For me, the holiday season starts with Sveti Nikola, and ends with Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. The Misters family functions are sprinkled in between.
One of my stepsons is totally with the program now.
He knows to kiss everyone three times (for the Holy Trinity).
He knows to cross himself, and take a spoonful of zito as soon as he walks in the door.
He knows to keep his cognac glass full if he doesn't want to drink it anymore.
He drinks turkish coffee (he doesn't drink coffee otherwise)
He knows a few words in Serbian.
I figure, in a couple of Slavas, he'll be a Serb.

Today there was eating.
There was laughing.
There was drinking.
There was Turkish Coffee Fortune Telling.

This Slava, wasn't much different from the Slava I described here.

I did get Mama to confess something though...

When I was a young girl, there used to be an old building next to what is now the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.
Back then, Mama told me that it was a reform school...a jail for bad kids.
Whenever we drove, or walked past that old building, my mother used to tell me that if I didn't behave, she'd put me in there.

Today, as we were passing 1001 Queen Street (formerly 999 for those that are older than 20 here in Toronto) I reminded Mama of what she used to say to me.
She laughed.
I asked her if the old building was really a reform school.

Her reply:
"Ok. Yu ketch me. I lie...I don no vat da buldink vos..."

You have to love her.
Well, at least I do.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Mama Answers:

MissKikiRiki asked:

I have da perfect questions for Mama.My slava is coming up (st. Nikola), I'm only having baklava for dessert (because I don't know how to make anything else..and I can't buy anything because it's a lenten slava)..My question: Is the baklava enough variety ? Should I have another type of dessert? How should I respond to my grandmother when she will undoubtedly critisize for only serving baklava? Thank you.

Sretna Slava. Tis iz our slava too!!! I don follo too mach da rules. Bat eef yu gatta, den da froot iz alveys goot. Da froot an da deep, or froot salata.
Crabby asked:

Will we enjoy a white Christmas this year Mama?

Eh, hoo nos? Mebee, Mebee. Tis Kountry hev da stoopit vedder. Van dai nice, nex dai no so nice. Even saamyime da...vat's hees name? Da gai on the CFRB, Haarol samtink...even he's rong he's da meteormen.
Jacqueline asked:

I have a question...What the heck is misskikiriki talking about? What is lenten slava? Is this the eastern advent?

Read about fasting for Christmas (January 7) here.
Read about the Serbian Slava here.
Benjamin asked:

What should I get for my new sister-in-law? She just got a whole bunch of wedding gifts and is well-off so she has just about everything. I'm stumped.

Sen her to da spa. Aal da ladies, dey like da spa. Dat's vat da peopl mit da maney like, no?
Sonja asked:

The whole family is invited to my younger sister's for Christmas dinner and my older sister's brother-in-law will be there, too. Nobody likes this guy and he is RUDE and OBNOXIOUS - give me some advice so that I won't be arrested for grievous bodily harm.....
oh sorry mama I got so excited it's my older sister's husband who is the rude and obnoxious one - already I'm getting all riled up just thinking about him .....

Ven he staart takkink, yu no lissen. You tink abaout odder tings. Jas geev heem da durty looks eef he talks too stoopit. Hahahah.
Darek asked:

Mama, could you go Christmas shpping for me? I am sooooo behind!

Ice Queen asked:

Every other mom seems to be getting their kid's teacher a present. In my day, we didn't give persents to our teachers. It was unfair to kids who couldn't afford presents so it was against school policy.I don't want to get her present. But everyone else seems to be and I'll feel like a heel if I don't. I was thinking of something homemade. What do YOU think, Mama? She IS a nice lady. But still!

Hev yu keeds mek da piktur of her and pud eet in a frame. Tis is cheep, bat nice.
Cicada asked:

Mama, My mother-in-law is a nice woman, but she expects me to wait on her hand and foot when she visits. She came for Thanksgiving and it was like having the Queen living at our house. Her son and I have been married for ten years, so it's not like we've only done this a couple of times. I hate making and serving coffee all day.How can I make my mother-in-law feel welcome and stop waiting on her without starting a holiday fight?

Lissen, she's yu madda too. She kam to yu houz, yu eat et for da van dai. Don mekka da problemas mit yu husban becas of hur...tis iz hees madde...Mebee she van to mek da problem, an complain det yu no like her. Don let dis to heppen. Yu pud app mit it fo da van day.
Jacqueline asked:

Third slave here. Actually it's not the usual mil (stepmom), but rather the out of town bio-mom.She'll just watch me bust my ass and all the time yak at me about her latest boyfriend.I have another question for Mama though. My sister (older) is having big financial troubles. I would like to give her a gift certificate for the grocery store. Do you think this would embarass her though? Maybe I should give it to her on the side.

Geev her da maney. Kesh. Everybady like da kesh. An yu sai samtink like..."I deedn't no vat to buy dis year..." or samtink like det so she no gonna feel bed for hevink da maney trouble.
Peopl still gadda de pride. Yu don vanna her to go to big depression...den mebee yu gadda bigge problema to hendl.

Dantallion asked:

Mama: What does one bring to a pot-luck, multi-denominational Christmas dinner, where you don't know anyone going?

Kek. Everybady likka da kek.
Or froot. Tis is alveys saf too. Don forget to bringa da mek every houz heppy to hev sambady to bring da flowers.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

West Indian Parenting Skills

West Indian parenting is very similar to European parenting.

A couple of years ago, The Misters cousin was having trouble with his teenaged daughter.
Typical teenage things.
Arguing about how late she was allowed to stay out, how much make up she wore, how she dressed and so on.
One day, they were arguing about her curfew, when she stomped out of the kitchen, into her room and SLAMMED the door.

The next day, Cousin Mister took the door off it's hinges, exclaiming:
"Is MY door she slammin'. When she 'ave she own door, she cyan slam all she like...but while she livin' in dis house...there'll be no slammin' door 'roun 'ere!!"

She went two weeks with no bedroom door.


Last night, I observed this:
Child running through the house, between people's legs and crawling all over the floor.
Parent told the child to stop twice, in a calm voice.
Child still running, slips and falls and starts to cry.
Father says:
"What I tell yuh?!? Next time, I gunna beat yer'ass...yuh hear???"
Child calms right down and stops his nonsense...kept in tact by dad giving him the raised evil eyebrow every so often throughout the evening.

Now THAT's parenting.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Professional Shopping

My sister in law (from here on known as Insane Woman) talked me into going to the Umbra sale at the C.N.E. today.

My sister in law is a professional shopper.
I am an amateur.

Two weeks ago when she said "come to the Umbra sale with me", I was all like, "sure".
Until she told me that I would have to get up at 5:00 am on a Saturday morning.
Then, I took the steps I thought would be sufficient to get myself out of going.

Insane Woman wasn't having any of it.

See folks, I'm not a full fledged chick.
I hate shopping.
I hate crowds.
I taught myself to sew just so I could avoid some shopping.

When, Insane Woman showed up at 6:00am with coffee, muffins and a highly annoying chipper attitude, it took everything I had in my body to not slam the door in her face, and go back to bed.
I even said, "If you weren't so damn cute, I'd fucking kill you right now".
She gave me the finger and told me to get in the van.

Yes people.
The Van.

When we got to the Automotive Building at the C.N.E. at 6:20am, the line was already half way around the building.
It was then that Insane Woman told me that the doors didn't open until 9:00am.


"It's ok" she chirped, "I brought you extra mittens, a hat, and I even brought you a little backpack so that you don't have to carry your purse"...with that, she grabbed her collapsable chair and made a dash for the line.

As the line started to move at 9:01am, one woman tried to butt into the line by claiming that she was looking for her sister in law.
All the people in line were watching her like chicken hawks....murmers went through the crowd, and I have a feeling that if she had attempted to get into the building, they would have attacked her.

Have any of you ever been to one of these sales?
These people are serious.
They push, shove, elbow, thrust their boxes at you, and move really quickly.

I got some great deals.
I couldn't wait to get out of that insane asylum.
Early in the game, I lost Insane Woman.

When I took this picture

I was done, and hiding in a corner of the building waiting for Insane Woman to finish.

Never. Again.