I’m joining in the Meet The Family Blog Hop and this one time I’ve decided to let Inzared tell you a little about her family Christmas traditions. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from her and when you’re done reading be sure to hop on over to Teri Giuliano Long’s site – you could win some great prizes and learn about some other special Christmas family traditions!
Hello, my name is INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders and I’m glad you decided to spend Christmas Eve with me and my family. I’m certain it won’t be so very different from that in your own family, but I would love to show you our traditions. You see, my husband, Paytre is Roma Gypsy. That’s him, over there holding the little boy, our son Timmon. Ain’t he handsome? Met him at a circus performance. Was really his elephant, Cecil that I fell in love with first, but Paytre was special in every way and he became my best friend and lover.
Grew up just plain Bertha Maude Anderson in a rural hill community called Brower’s Gap in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Wasn’t until I joined the circus and became the elephant rider in the show that I took the name Inzared.
Have a son of my own now, Timmon, and Paytre and I tried to give him life from both sides of our heritage. So our Christmas could be just a little unusual, but maybe not so much.
My family always celebrated on Christmas Eve. Grew up dirt-poor, the only daughter in a family who had barely enough to survive. We worked hard to make a living out of the hillside farm my Ma and Pa owned, but we seldom had money for extras. Ma didn’t understand me much but I will say that she tried to make Christmas special.
Pa always brought a tree in the house that he’d chopped down in the woods. My brother, Ezra and me helped Ma decorate it with whatever we had handy. Popcorn strung on thread, berries and pine cones were favorites. The tree smelled so good – the evergreen fragrance filled the small cabin we lived in. Ma carefully placed tiny candles on the tree and lit them on Christmas Eve.
Couldn’t always make it to church because Brower’s Gap was a good two to three hours away in decent weather, let alone with snow on the mountain. But on Christmas Eve we finished our chores, Ma lit the candles, and Pa played the fiddle. After I got older I joined him on guitar and we sang the old Christmas carols we knew. Ma made spiced cider and cookies for that night, no matter how little money we had. She always found a way. It was a tradition.
On Christmas morning my brother and I would wake and tiptoe down the ladder that led to the loft where we slept. Was always an item for each of us under the tree. Remember one year Ma made me a little dolly and I carried her with me everywhere. Christmas Day we still had to do chores and such, but Ma made a special dinner and we relaxed a little while Pa read from the Good Book.
Paytre’s family celebrates Christmas a little differently. As Gypsies, they honor Jesus because they believe he was a wanderer, just like them. On Christmas Eve, the family congregates at church to dance and sing in the Gypsy tradition. However, Paytre comes from a long line of circus performers who are on the road most of the year and spend the winters in warmer weather. They carry on the tradition of dancing and singing around the campfire with canastas and bright-colored clothing. They drink wine and have lots of food, with a party that lasts into the wee hours of the morning. However, they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day. It is a time for reflection, good food and family. Gifts are given but the focus is on spending time with loved ones as we eat and talk.
So, Timmon gets the best of both worlds. We celebrate Christmas Eve with a reading from the Bible and have a decorated tree, wherever we happen to be. I decorate the vardo with things I find in the woods and it looks festive. Paytre finds a little tree and we even put bells on Blackberry’s halter.
Cecil (the elephant) gets a special treat on Christmas Day, as do the other animals. The trainers know they need time off too; that it’s good for everyone.
Hard not to go overboard for my boy at Christmas as he’s our only child, but we try hard not to spoil him too much. Generally get him a toy or two and he’s happy.
Come on in, the dancing’s just about to start. Here, have a cup of my Ma’s hot spiced cider and a sugar cookie. If you’ll excuse me for a while I need to play guitar backup for the fiddles. We’ll talk later – glad you joined us!
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