Croatian holidays are celebrated with here with intense love and enthusiasm and FOOD! The season began, for me, with an invitation to have lunch with my beloved Marconi family. Do keep in mind our main meal is taken at high noon. (Wow, visions of Gary Cooper come to mind. For those of you too young to comprehend, google High Noon, please. Better yet, rent it and watch a great film with one of the finest actors to grace the silver screen.) I digress yes, so back to the holiday season in Cavtat, my forever home.
It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky gently caressing the horizon of our vibrant Adriatic sea. The beginning of a day offered such a promise with great anticipation of a delicious meal. I strolled down my road to my dear Marconi household to give them a special box of unique chocolates and a local Dalmatian wine. Who does not like chocolates and wine? My beloved Mara, her husband Tonci and their adult son Antonio welcoming me into their parlor/kitchen in the penthouse of my prior residency (aka The Bunker). I eased into my favorite comfy chair, allowing me to enjoy the sea view.
Croatian Christmas meals are far different from my American life and I knew that I had to move my belt an extra notch open. Awaiting me on the coffee table was a crystal dish filled with homemade sweets, to be washed down with walnut liqueur. Soon the dining table was covered with a special white linen cloth and laden with enough food to feed an army. Mara had spent days cooking, baking and preparing for our Christmas festivities; she finally sat down with us and it was a magnificent, never ending meal for all. I now knew how a stuffed turkey felt, pun intended. And it became clearly apparent the short walk uphill to my podrum was not possible and Antonio was elected to drive me home.
After a short repose on my bed, changing into soft velour elasticized pants (ahhh), I began to peruse my Facebook account. Christmas greetings, Santa jokes and heartfelt messages being posted. Darkness comes very early these winter nights as I began to relax and daydream at my desk.
Suddenly what should appear on my terrace…a group of my neighbors’ young daughters serenading me with traditional Croatian Christmas carols! I threw open my door and Abby and I were so thrilled and honored by these glorious voices. I had learned that I was to thank them graciously with gifts of sweet treats and a generous amount of Kunas (our Croatian currency). Thankfully I knew it was time to pay it forward and gave the girls a very generous bag of homemade cookies and 50 Kunas. Smiling, happy faces spilling over with Sretan Bozic (Merry Christmas) and devouring Abby with hugs and kisses.
As I began to settle down for a long winter’s night, once more my terrace was adorned by a group of young boys caroling. My heart was so touched, tears of joy flowed down my face as I realized how the American has now finally been accepted as a local by my loving neighbors in Cavtat.
Christmas Eve is celebrated with love and sharing and a special greeting…
Merry Christmas Eve, all the best.
Sretan Badnjak, sve najbolje to all my beloved friends and family across the pond.
Good night…Laku noc