We drove the older ladies home after our Christmas celebration, and one Baka (grandma) invited us in her house—a three by three little place with a broken roof. She lives at the end of the small road of a Roma settlement here in the area. There is no paved road anymore. The iron and rubbish are piled up, which makes it hard to turn the car in the very dark without any streetlights.
But, never mind all that. Baka came home, lit the candle, and invited us in: Sjedite, sjedite! Please, sit down, sit down. And so we sat down on her bed and she stumbled to the drawer, got a cup out the broken drawer, walked to a bucket of water next to the stove, used her four fingers to ‘clean’ the cup a bit, and offered me a drink. I could not refuse; I sat and drank by candlelight. There is no foundation in the house. The floor is just plain mud. The house is damp, and the window and door do not close properly. She has a few pieces of cloths, a knife and a few cups and pots, a fire and a bucket of water and a bed what she is using for all kind of things. She insisted we eat her Christmas cookies and was so very happy with us, her guests.
Laurens and Femke were with me and enjoyed this little party. Do not think that a room is totally lit by one candle. We were sitting in the dark, but the room was warm. Baka knows how to make a fire so that it burns unattended for a couple of hours.
It led me to think how gratitude and the experience of blessing are also within us. The peace and joy surrounding her are always so palpable, while her living conditions are so very poor and harsh. But, she keeps up this joyful spirit, knowing the source from which to find it.
Today my family is celebrating my dad’s birthday, and in these days, we miss our extended families. But, to be here and celebrate Christmas with local widows and other folks is such a blessing. We left the little party, and she kissed me goodbye. I carry our loved ones around in my heart and try to learn from Baka’s joyful spirit.
Thank you, Baka, for teaching me this, a wonderful present!