The Best (Worst) Christmas Present Ever
We get so caught up in our days and our own concerns that we often take for granted the freedoms and the democracy we share and enjoy. We think of our own issues as a great struggle at times, overlookng the real struggle others have lived through to achieve the same democratic freedoms we have and live, sometimes carelessly.
Camelia Miron Skiba is the author of Hidden Heart and a former citizen of Romania now living in the United States. Ms Skiba lived under the communist rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu and through the transition of Romania to a democracy, a transition symbolized by Christmas 1989. For her, that Christmas brought both the best and the worst present and she writes about it here.
I remember that event from news stories then. Ms Skiba remembers it from living through it and I found her memory of it to be very powerful.
BEST (WORST) CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER
by Camelia Miron Skiba
Someone asked me what was the best present I ever got for Christmas and for several seconds, I rummaged through my mind’s boxes filled with dusted memories until this one surfaced, vividly, powerful, overwhelming. With no doubt in my mind this is the best present I ever got for Christmas, but the worst as well. Let me explain.
The best present I ever got for Christmas is the freedom of our country back in December 1989. Starting December 15th until December 25th 1989 Romanians fought for their freedom, taking back their country from the tyrant Ceausescu and the odious communists that for generations manipulated, deprived and starved the country. After ten bloody days Ceausescu and his wife were prosecuted and sentenced to death for crimes against the nation.
I remember sitting in the living room with my family, watching the trial live on TV. Looking back, the trial had been a rushed and forced joke—not that he didn’t deserve to die—but at that time it seemed the only solution to end the streets deadly clashes between regular individuals and Ceausescu’s dogs (the communists’ nickname).
|Ceauşescu and his wife were
executed on Christmas Day 1989
The execution of Ceausescu and his wife was televised. I hated them for the hunger, the cold, and the brainwashing I’ve been forced to live through my entire life, yet I couldn’t watch them die. I remember hiding in the bathroom and crying, not because I felt sorry for them, but because in our hurry to get our country and freedom back, we became killers, staining our hands with blood on the holy day of Christmas. We couldn’t wait another day to get rid of Ceausescu and the communists. It had to be Christmas day.
Since then, nothing had been the same. Romania is now a democratic country, a free nation. We still struggle with corruption, poor economy and even poorer choices when it comes to elect our leaders. But one thing that we got back when Ceausescu died and his regime disappeared was hope. Hope for a better day, for a better life. 22 years later hope is still alive… And sometimes that’s all we have.
Camelia Miron Skiba