December 24: it is Christmas Eve, as well as Ivo’s birthday.
A quiet evening at the park, something a little special for dinner in the motor home, maybe a chocolate cheesecake for desert, maybe candles, Ivo and me reinventing memories from our Bulgarian childhood Christmases for Maya and Vick… This is how I imagined our first ever “Tropical Christmas” in Saint Pete, Florida, up until our new friends, Desi and Koko, called and invited us to celebrate it with them.
We first met Desi and Koko, and their two charming daughters, Dahlia, 5 years-old and Lily, 2 months-old, in our park the same week we arrived in St Pete. We became instant friends based on so many things we have in common; mainly (but not only): they are Bulgarians like us!
So instead of a lonely quiet evening at the park , we spent Christmas Eve (this is when Bulgarians as well as other nationalities celebrate Christmas) with 4 more Bulgarian families, 10 adults and 8 children, at Koko’s parent’s house in Odessa, Florida. There we were welcomed with Bulgarian folklor music and an endless table adorned with traditional Bulgarian Christmas meals, everything arranged in pots and plates coming directly from Bulgaria, from my childhood, from my grandmother’s house…
We got immersed in an all-Bulgarian Christmas at its best, and for this reason, I am sure, even Santa showed up with a full bag of presents for everyone! He was later voted “The Best Santa Clause Ever” by Viktor and Maya.
It was truly an amazing evening, and I was happy and thankful that our children got the chance to experience a traditional Bulgarian Christmas, very similar to the ones from our memories.
The next morning, at the park, we woke up with an inexplicable calm feeling of nostalgia and gratitude.