Birthday Banitsa

Bulgarian Banitsa

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mission lately — well, really, my whole Mormon experience — and I’ve decided I’d like to start writing it down.  I hope to take little snippets of stories here and there and share them.

This is something I wrote while actually on my mission. It describes a birthday party my companion and I attended for this wonderful old baba (it means grandma, but that’s what they call all the old ladies in Bulgaria).  She was the epitome of graciousness, and always seemed to enjoy listening to our lessons — even though, in the end, she couldn’t get baptized because she just refused to marry her live-in boyfriend.  (THAT was an awkward conversation.  A seventy-year-old woman asking a couple of 22-year-old virgins if she was “living in sin” since they were way too old to have sex anymore.  Ha!)

Anyway, her birthday in particular was a delightful day, so I thought I’d share…

The door opens, and we’re greeted with a blast of warm wind and traditional music, blaring just louder than comfortable.  The guest of honor herself rises to greet us, grey hair falling from her bun, glasses resting precariously on her nose, and a high-pitched voice pitched even higher to combat the din of screeching violins lamenting some lost love.

“Come in!  Come in!”  She ushers us through the threshhold and commands us to remove our shoes.  “How wonderful to have you here!  My sweet grandchildren!”

“Happy birthday,” I offer, handing her a cheap box of chocolates we carelessly bought at the convenience store across the street moments before making our way up the steps to her apartment.  It’s the clash of two worlds, really: self-centered westernized living which says grab it and go–and the turmoil of this afternoon’s banitsa prepared, undoubtedly, hours in advance.

“I’ve just made something small for us, a trifle, really,” she smiles.  “I made it last night so as not to ruin my birthday.”  And she leads us into the living room and bids us take our seat.

It’s a familiar picture: small space, crowded with knicknacks and memories, pictures and books, and the coffee table as always sporting some sort of treat for the guests.  She flutters back and forth from the small adjoining kitchen, bustling and bubbling with too much energy for a just-turned-seventy-­year-old, and a song on her lips.  “My little granddaughters,” she gushes.

She brings out the banitsa, carefully presented, and lays our napkins in our laps.  “Simple, really,” she says–a somewhat less-than-veiled attempt at humility.  “But from the heart.”  And with a flourish serves us, then seats herself.

About Katie L

A doubter by nature, a believer by grace.

Posted on March 24, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You. Are. A. Writer. I mean, you know that you are, but I mean that you should WRITE STUFF SO IT CAN BE PUBLISHED! This is beautiful. So vivid!

  2. Awww, Kim. You just made me blush. Thank you. 🙂

    As I indicated above, I have been thinking about writing down more of my Mormon experience. I don’t even know where to begin, though. I’ll have to hit you up for some pointers.

  1. Pingback: Confessions of a Licked Cupcake: Cars and Garages « Standing, Sitting, Lying Down

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