Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Snippets

1. Christmas in January

Christmas in L'viv. The stately Opera
House behind the tree.

That's right, it is Christmas time again! Ukrainians celebrate Christmas on January 7th, so all of L'viv is hustling and bustling in preparation and celebration. Today I had a fun walk through the downtown area, which was decked with lights, trees, and a Christmastime bazaar. Ukrainian Christmas traditions are similar to many of our own, including special foods, caroling, gathering with family, and honoring Christ's birth.

A view through the bazaar, toward the Opera House.

Christmas shoppers and vendors

When the Soviet Union was in power, Christmas was a forbidden holiday in this area, as it did not support the pervading atheist propaganda. Due to that, holiday celebration and anticipation was centered on the New Year, with gifts being given, trees decorated, etc. When Ukraine gained independence and returned to widespread celebration of Christmas, the day was distinguished primarily as a tribute to the birth of Jesus, while New Year's retained its former holiday fanfare. As a result, people here still put up "New Year trees", and purchase "New Year paper" to wrap their "New Year gifts" in. It sounds kind of funny to our ears, but in a way it is nice to have those things separated from the celebration of Christ's birth. Neither is there talk of Santa on Christmas Day. Christmas is entirely a religious holiday, although St. Nick does make an appearance earlier in December. The 19th is celebrated as Saint Nicolas Day here, on which children receive gifts from parents and other close friends. This would probably be the closest thing to our Christmas morning.

There you have it--your Ukrainian trivia for the day. ;)

2. Coffee with a friend

Every week, without fail, Joshua sends me out by myself for some time away from the kids. (Have I mentioned what a wonderful guy he is?) I usually get a cup of coffee and sit quietly reading, planning for the week, or collecting my thoughts. This week however, I had a great time catching up with my friend, Krystia, at a dessert cafe. She is married to Igor, has a precious 2-month-old daughter, Eva, and is a wonderful believer from our Ukrainian church group. She is an encouragement to me!

Krystia and me on Ukrainian Christmas Eve

3. Nicolas Nickleby

I loaded up my iPod with 34+ hours worth of Charles Dicken's, who has been an entertaining companion thru food preparation and household chores. (Whenever I don't have entertaining little girl companions, that is!) In the moments when the kids are asleep or occupied, I've enjoyed the story of this young man trying to make his way in life against great odds. Thwarted by a stone-hearted, avaricious uncle and a cruel schoolmaster, Nicolas must not only protect his own honor, but also act as the lone defender of a beautiful sister against the advances of a rich and profligate lord. And I'm only halfway through the story! He is a hero you can't help but root for.

4. The Pertussis saga...over the worst.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) certainly has its challenges, but by far the hardest part is the fact that it stretches out for such a loooooong time. After weeks of being up nights, hosting little sleepers in our bedroom, administering remedies, staying at home, and praying, it would appear that we are finally over the hump. All the kids still have an occasional bout of coughing, and probably will for a couple months yet. But the worst is over at last and we are returning to normal. We are so grateful for all of you who prayed with us through this tough season!

5. New Year's, new goals

I love the chance the New Year offers to set goals and plans, to bring closure to old things and start on new. Among other projects, we have been easing back into a school routine with the girls. One of our new "classes" this semester is going to be music awareness. I'm having a fun time planning basic music concepts to teach, such as rhythmic patterns, recognition of notes and names, location of notes on the piano,  beginning sight reading, and singing.  We've ordered a basic set of children's handbells, a small glockenspiel, and some noise makers to begin making music with. Can't wait for them to arrive!

Don't these look irresistible?

"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee." (Psalm 63:3)


  1. Do you know the Sobie family? They play those bells at churches and events all over this region!

  2. I don't know them, Phyllis, but that is sure encouraging to hear! Maybe someday...;)

  3. Here's an older video of them that I remembered from a while back:
    I think their youngest is playing with them now, too.


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