Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis my life has become one big puzzle about what, when, and how my immune system has already been and is still being impacted. Suffice it to say, it sucks. No longer included in my diet are wheat and soy. Never do I use processed foods. I make my own ghee so that I can have butter. I should eat only organic foods, but living in the Aleutian Islands makes that nearly impossible. I think holidays are probably the times when I really miss certain foods. I think the one thing that I miss the most is my mother’s Easter bread, or what we call kulich , made for our Orthodox Easter. I am honestly going to try to make it with gluten free flour one of these years. I just have to prepare myself for what may be utter failure and a waste of resources.
In 1910 an International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany, proposed that every year in each country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. Thus International Women’s Day was born.
In my strong, matriarchal society of Unangan women in Unalaska, I have had many stellar examples upon which to base my life attitude. My mother, Gert Svarny, continues the values and ethics that her mother Alice Hope instilled in her. Even my younger sister and my own daughters have taught me a thing or two about strength and character. I am lucky to have a public reference about my grandmother to show my children and grandchildren how devoted she was to her community, by the love shown her at her death. In his book Moments Rightly Placed, author Ray Hudson writes: Then on the afternoon of December 4, 1966, Alice Hope died in Washington state. The next day a service for this deeply loved woman was held at Unalaska, and when her body arrived five days later, Anfesia (Shapsnikoff) assisted Father Ishmael Gromoff in yet another service. Anfesia stayed all night with her departed friend, in the company of the Hope children and grandchildren and friends, until the service at the church on December 11th. Anfesia noted in her diary, “had Liturgy with Mrs. Hope’s body; after funeral service walked her up all the way.” Carrying the coffin the length of the village from the church to the graveyard was an act of uncommon devotion.
Who is the woman, or women, in your life who have guided you on your path? Gentlemen…this is a question for you also.
From the land of saints, the faithful Orthodox in Unalaska, Alaska wish you a Merry Christmas. This evening was the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. Tomorrow we begin our tradition of following the Star of the East. For three nights we will visit parish homes and sing carols. We call it starring as we carry a large, decorated star and the star spins as we sing.
The title of this post is in Unangam tunuu, or the Aleut language. We also say the phrase in Slavonic. Khristos Razhdayetsya!! Slavite Yego! And in English. Christ is born! Glorify Him!