All I Want for Christmas

Stefan at the Christmas get-together with friends

Some of our students from Serbia and Montenegro practice Orthodox Christianity so they observe Christmas a little later than people in the U.S.  Stefan Zaric, a UGRAD student studying at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, offered the following reflections on celebrating Orthodox Christmas in the U.S.

Greetings from Minneapolis, Minnesota – The land of 10,000 lakes where the snow glistens like shards of sharp glass and the cold wind gets us all together, gathered in warmth. It is below zero degrees yet we are comfortable in our abundance of layers, sitting around the table with the love that is given to us. This kind of peace and tranquility can’t be imagined. Candles are casting a shadow play upon us, and the smell of the food just taken out of the oven takes me 10,000 miles away. Home. It’s 7th January, Christmas. At least it is at the other side of the globe as it is in our room, here and now.

Sarma, Serbian stuffed cabbage

Adventure time in a grocery store and hours spent on finding perfect ingredients. The seller, seeing that I am completely desperate yet determined in my treasure hunt, is asking me politely what I am looking for. “Sour cabbage leafs” I respond. “European?” he says. Why do I need those? Well, it’s Christmas and on Christmas, we make sarma. He would like to hear more about this just discovered fact that there’s another Christmas, but as my bags are filled with the treasure and nobody wants to give a history lesson since it is more likely to see Big Foot than the bus in Minneapolis, I am making my way towards the comfort of my loved ones, Jacob and Jessamyn.

Home? Between the two continents and cultures, even between two Christmas eves, with every laughter and bite of sarma and proja (just like my mother and sister prepare) our love and friendship bond us. Prayer said upon the food and a toast for all of us. The world is our infinite playground. “The road goes ever on and on”, Tolkien said. Thank you, World Learning for making a lifetime of my road. May it never end. All I want for Christmas? Nothing. I am already home.

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