A snowy Ukrainian Christmas adventure

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/03/2022 (334 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In January, my jolly housekeeping friend Lucy begged me to write an article about myself for a change. Nothing too serious, please. So persuasive is her personality that I scurried off to obey…

My fridge was bursting at the seams with treats from several friends as I awaited my son’s precious visit from Toronto on Jan. 7, Ukrainian Christmas Day.

There was kutia, usually served first — the wheat, poppyseed and honey dish, with optional chopped walnuts and maraschino cherries — from Winnipeg friend Lorri, a “kindred spirit.” Unlike the cold porridge that it is sometimes mistakenly called, it can become addictive, all because it is so good! Kutia is now being served as a popular dessert all year round in Ukraine.

I also received tart shells and lemony filling, shortbread, red velvet cake and Nanaimo bars from Larry, a former student in the 1970s, and his wife Georgina (they are now grandparents); and, from staunch friend Sheila, two dozen perogies, plus, true to our heritage, a dozen pyrishky — tiny perogies made of yeasty dough stuffed with seasoned sauerkraut, to be slathered in garlicky butter and oven-crisped. In my earlier life this is what I’d often seen at bridal showers and birthday parties.

Valerie, daughter of my best friend Helen from Meleb school days, gifted another two dozen pyrishky. The tradition continues, giving these dishes a universality that the world needs more of. My son quietly reminded me that the leftovers would make a good snack before he boarded the plane for home that Sunday.

It had snowed Saturday but we were determined to see how my dedication to my late daughter-in-law Bette had been handled inside Qaumajuq’s sculptures display adjoining the Winnipeg Art Gallery. After we’d parked, I urged him to walk ahead and break a path for me.

As I trudged along, my body and my cane slowly began listing to my right. Oh no, I wasn’t going to fall! But I felt myself edging closer and closer to the snowbank. Would it support me? No! My arm was sliding way, way down, my body following.

Surprisingly, it felt good to be sitting in a pile of new-fallen snow. A game of Fox and Geese with its circle and spokes, anyone? I could make snow angels, I imagined, laughing out loud and drawing my son’s attention.

Was I alright? I must have seemed brain-impaired at this point, for I could only laugh in reply as he pulled and tugged to get me back on my feet.

This little episode was, to me, a genuine highlight of that weekend — for I had enjoyed moments out of my past that aging was gradually denying me.

Anne Yanchyshyn

Anne Yanchyshyn
St. Vital community correspondent

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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