Posted by: patenttranslator | December 22, 2018

Christmas in a Foreign Country

So I have been living in this pretty town in Southern Bohemia for almost three months now and it’s already Christmas. I can hardly believe it. Time flies, whether you’re having fun, or not. That’s just what time does … except when we are children and can’t wait to become grownups already.

The last Christmas that I remember in this country was 40 years ago, in 1978, when I still used to come back to my mother’s apartment in Český Krumlov for Christmas. My father was still alive, but he was spending most of the time at our “chalupa” (house in the country), which was just as well.

After eating and talking to my mom, I drank all by myself a bottle of red wine, I think it was Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood). After I had finished the bottle all by my lonesome, I started walking the streets to look at lighted Christmas trees decorated with ornaments and little chocolate figurines in the windows of apartments of the families in the festive atmosphere of the town, maybe mostly happy families, probably happy enough if they had small children anxiously waiting for their presents to magically appear under the tree already on Christmas Eve, unlike in America where the children have to wait until the morning of the next day.

Nothing makes us happier than when we can make a child happy.

I remember that I walked off the wine by walking through the town’s streets all the way to the fields and the forest behind the Zámecká Zahrada (Castle’s Garden), although it was late evening already. To my delight and amazement, I then saw many years later some of the streets end even a part of the forest where I had walked that evening 40 Christmases ago in the 2006 movie “The Illusionist” with Ed Norton and Jessica Biel. Except that in the movie, some of the streets and the forest were supposed to be in or near Vienna, not in Prague and in Český Krumlov.

But they can’t fool me!

Yesterday when I was coming back home from the bus stop after taking a look, along with tour groups of Chinese and Korean tourists, at the big Christmas tree and dozens of stands selling coffee and chocolate and punch and all kinds of Christmas goodies on the big square in České Budějovice, a tiny, terminally cute doggie started yapping at me like the hound of Baskerville with a serious case of rabies. I wanted to say to the old lady who was walking the miniature beast “What a cute dog”! But I had to stop and think for a couple of seconds how to say “cute” in Czech. I finally managed to say something and we exchanged a few pleasantries, but I’m still not sure I used the right word.

Thirty seven years is a long time, even for me. Although I was born and grew up here, I live in a foreign country now, at least for the time being. I keep thinking that people probably pick up on a wrong word I say and figure out that I am some kind of damn foreigner. Or maybe they think I already have old age dementia.

Or maybe I do and that’s why I am writing this silly blog? Oh well, who cares.

I will not be alone on Christmas because I will be spending Christmas Eve with my three nieces (well, one of them is a grandniece) and their children. I’m sure they’ll give me something, although I told them not to, and since I have no idea what to give them myself, I’ll just give them some money in an envelope, which is exactly what I have been giving to my children on Christmas for at least the last ten years.

It’s pretty effortless, and I think it works best.

An old girlfriend that I used to be madly in love with for quite a few years keeps calling me from Prague, after I called her and gave her my Czech phone number. But I think it’s basically just idle female curiosity on her part. She even asked me if I still carry the torch for her, I can’t remember now exactly what kind of Czech idiom she used. So I told her that I will never stop loving the girl that I used to know, but that I do not really know the person that she became and is now.

I’m pretty proud of myself, that I was able to come up with this answer, especially since it’s basically true. Her husband of many years died in an accident five years ago. So we are now both free and unattached.

And old.

She keeps calling, about once a week or so, asking me to call her back when and if I feel like it. But the calls are very brief and she does not really want to talk to me, I think, because she always calls when she is about to go to see a movie or a theater play, or when she is driving her car, so that there’s really no time to talk at all.

I called her back once or twice since I don’t really have any friends here, but I am not going to do it again. It’s some sort a weird game that she is playing with me that I don’t really understand and definitely do not like.

I think that what she is doing with me or to me is what many young men on Youtube who don’t like what feminism has done to women nowadays call “shit test”. A “shit test” is when a woman is saying or doing something to a man to test his reaction, like telling him that she already has a boyfriend even if it’s not true, basically to see how he’s going to react and if he’s man enough for her.

Women have been doing stuff like this to me and all males forever, of course. But at this point, I don’t feel like going along with these shit tests. I’m too old for this stuff.

What women usually don’t realize, (because they are so incredibly vain), is that when they get older, they lose the awful power they used to have over men when they were still young and beautiful.

Charles de Gaulle said it best when he said: “Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses; they last while they last.”  


  1. Happy Holidays!
    I started following you when Trados soured me on translating. Thank yoi for all you’ve said about the “industry.”
    I live in Brazil, where I read your blogs.
    I was born in the US and also lived in SF for 14 years. When I travel from Brazil to visit the US, I feel odd, too.
    Good luck with your new stage!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Christmas! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Steve! Were you trying to provoke some (negative) reaction among your female readers with this post?
    An intelligent man like you can’t believe all this clichés about women!
    I wish you a Merry Christmas and more luck with women next year. I assure you that there’s many out there who are not “incredibly vain” and who, as they get older, realize that they are not young and beautiful anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. this is a amazing article


  5. nic this is a best artical thanxx for sharing


  6. Merry Christmas and thank you for another beautiful article 🍾🥂🎉
    So sorry for the experience with that lady, but I’m sure she’s just an exception. I had this experience when I was much younger and it’s just a bad feeling you go through. No need to waste your time. She might still have that childish behaviour to play with others feelings. Forget it ! Enjoy this time of the year, there are many other happy people under the sun.

    Liked by 1 person

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