Today we bring you the concluding installment of the exclusive English translation of Hugo Chotek’s “Three Christmases” originally published in the 1921 edition of the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář.
Czech-American penman, Chotek, began this story of a group of Czech (Moravian) immigrants in 1850 and their arrival in the United States, in Galveston, Texas. He then took us through their first Christmas in 1850. Chotek’s second of his three Christmases was set in 1863, and then he took us with him into the lives of these same immigrants for a third Christmas in 1873, where we find ourselves today!
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Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XLIV, Year: 1921, Pages 154-168
A Page from the Lives of American Czechs from the Fifties
Written by Hugo Chotek
Translated by Layne Pierce and Mila Saskova-Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“Young Lešovský meanwhile approached the young girls and was poking fun at them as much as possible, especially Anna, on whose heels he was all the time, so much so that her mother would threaten him often with her wooden spoon. It was curious that Anna over and over again had something to do outside. – Once she had to go to fetch eggs in the chicken coop; then she had to fetch sweet cream in a faraway cellar, and similar things and then each time, Vojtěch also disappeared with her, like mercury. When then Anna returned she was red like a rose and her little sister was smiling like a little devil. Mother and grandmother, however, pretended not to see and not to hear. They remembered their own young years and knowing that Anna and Vojtěch loved each other they were not standing in their way. After all soon they will belong to one another, so let them enjoy their happiness. –
At the stroke of six o’clock the Christmas tree once again shone in the shining lights and surrounding it were old and young in happy excitement. Namely, old Bláha was beaming and frequently he would approach little Anna, who in dream like thoughts was holding in her hand a ring that was her grandfather’s present and on which was depicted love in the form of two kissing doves. He said, jokingly: “Well girl, aren’t you yearning for such a dove also?”
The girl, turning a deep red, tried to escape, which gave Bláha great pleasure. After supper the Lešovskýs, Klimičeks, and Skřiváneks came. When the St. Louis beer was opened then like twenty-three years ago, old Bláha rose and offering a toast, he said:
“Friends, dear and beloved! As you all know, today makes twenty-three years since for the first time I stood on my own land and welcomed you under my own roof. In spite of the fact that a wild blizzard raged around us, we were all happy and blessed, not suspecting that a time of bitter trials, woe, and suffering was awaiting us. I have lived long enough to experience three memorable Christmas Eves in this country. You know them as well as I do, since the last two ones did not remain without any influence upon you, and so I hope that even the one today will not remain without any. That was a sad Christmas, the one ten years ago. Our loss was enormous and bitter. There are many, however, who are crying over bigger losses, more painful ones. Time, the greatest comforter and reconciler, has straightened out and reconciled things through time for many people. Time, with the growing of the new buds, replaced what it tore away from our trees, as twenty-three years ago, the happiness of two people truly in love blossomed in this place and so also today we are going to bless the union of two children who are so beloved by us. Anna, the young Lešovský asked me for your hand. Your mother happily agrees and so I am asking you now, if you are happy with it.”
And she was. The light of happiness was shining from her eyes and with a beaming smile she exchanged engagement rings with Vojtěch.
No one has lived through such merriment up to now on this farm.
This was the last Christmas that the spouses Bláha spent among their own and on this Earth. However, before departing, they were given still another great joy, and that was that they were able to enjoy the view of their beloved native village, and the glorious and most memorable hill Radhošť. They returned from Europe in August and in October, Mrs. Bláhová died. This cut also the root of the life of the good grandfather and he followed his companion in the beginning of December.”
We hope you enjoyed this wonderful story by Czech-American penman, Hugo Chotek! We had a very enjoyable time translating this and are proud to have been the first and only English translation of this marvelous story ever!
Stay with us here at Onward To Our Past® for more exclusive translations form the Czech genealogy and history treasure-trove that are the 79 years of Amerikán Národní Kalendář!