Monday, October 25, 2010

The parcels now and then

I have a special weakness for parcels. I can't wait to receive them; then I can't wait to open them. Sometimes, when I have lots of chores to be done, I settle a specific number of chores to be fulfilled until I allow myself to open a parcel that I just received. The truth is I'm crazy about them. And it seems the gene was successfully inherited by Ilaria.

One of those days we went together to the post office to pick up a parcel containing winter clothes for Ilaria, ordered over the Internet. It was one entire parcel only for her! As if she knew it, the most part of our way back home she insisted for "carrying" it. I agreed with that and then I had to face people's look "saying": "poor little girl. She's exploited from such a young age!". But she didn't care about anything and she was happy, "talking" all the time, from behind the parcel. 

Seeing her cherishing that parcel, I remembered us, children before '89, cherishing my grandmother's parcels.

Before '89 Transylvania was full with Saxons. They were friendly, focused, laborious, organized. Romanians had a lot to learn from them. After the revolution of '89 and the fallen of the communist regime, an overwhelming majority of Saxons left Transylvania. They left behind them impressive churches, beautiful houses, plants and fruits not existing in other parts of Romania, tasteful recipes, lifetime friendships and a lot of memories...

My grandmother has a very good friend, Helmine Girscht, which, for many years, was her beloved neighbor and now is living in Mettmann, Germany. We were lucky, as she was leaving Romania long before '89, around '70. And, as many Saxons, she is a generous person. She was writing letters, especially at Easter and Christmas and many of those letters were notifications for future parcels. We, children, learned our lesson: when our grandmother was receiving such a letter, we were quickly opening it and we were not reading it to our grandmother, as she would had wished, but we were scanning the whole letter, looking for the wrongly spelled word "pacet" instead of "pachet", to know if some parcel will be or not on it's way toward us. And many times it was. And it was full of goodies which you couldn't have dreamed you would ever find in Romania: good chocolate, chewing gum, candies, margarine, pudding powder, coffee, cocoa, cubic sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda and so on.
We were devouring those goodies in few days and then cherishing much longer their wrappers. You know, when a person has one sense less developed, another sense is better. In our case the taste was the not so developed one - we didn't have much to taste - and it was successfully replaced by smell. We were able to feel and to enjoy the smell of almost any wrapper, long time after the yummy thing which it once covered has disappeared. I remember myself smelling for years a metal box of peppermint candies, a dates' carton and uuups... a cigars Virginia Blend Tobacco plastic purse.

Someday I will relate to Ilaria such stories from my communist childhood. Will she be able to understand something? Will she be able to imagine how it was back then when parcels reached us ALWAYS opened and RARELY complete? And what joy was for my grandmother to share all those goodies with her children and grandchildren?

Speaking of violated parcels, I remember myself once being frustrated and asking my mother "why do they open our parcels?", her answering: "because Ceausescu ordered so" and me replying: "oh, I understand now! He wants to wreak vengeance on us. He is spiteful because he doesn't receive any". :-)

Ilaria is lucky, being born in a free country, where you can receive your parcel -  one entire parcel for yourself - complete and sealed.

But we are also lucky, as we lived in both worlds and we felt the difference!
I'm happy for that. For us, children of 80s, it was OK even back then, but don't ask our parents how tough was for them...

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Heather said...

How wonderful that you see the joy in receiving a parcel!
I know that I love to receive them, too but I will not take them for granted now. I never thought that in some parts of the world people don't always receive or didn't used to receive, unopened parcels.

Sue said...

What a wonderful post, Raluca! Writing down those feelings and sensations from a time so foreign to our children will be priceless to them in the future.

I lived in Germany in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down. Though I was privileged to live on the free side and knew little first-hand of the suffering of those who lived under communism, I remember the sheer joy and elation we all felt when the Wall came down and all of the former Soviet countries began to declare their freedom. We were glued to our televisions and I had the opportunity to visit the Berlin wall and chip out my own piece to keep as a reminder not to take freedom for granted.

I'm sorry I haven't responded to your email yet. I wanted to take the time to give you a well thought-out response, but I've had so many distractions with my children! I will work on that and reply soon!

Ilaria is absolutely darling holding onto the straps of her big package!

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