The first time I spoke Hungarian without thinking about it was when I was Christmas shopping for Prajna our second year there. My knowledge of the daunting language had progressed well from the previous Christmas. Our first Christmas I had to take a cheat sheet with me. Students called cheat sheets a puska and I’m glad I didn’t call it that when I was fishing it out of my pocket in the shop because it translates literally as gun. I had four words written on my puska then. Nagy árbocgomb feleség terhes. It basicly said large pillow wife pregnant. My grammar was incorrect, but Prajna got a pillow for Christmas.
It snowed our first Christmas and for the first time I understood the line from ‘Tas the night before Christmas’ that talks about the moon on the snow giving the brightness of day.
That was a fun Christmas and one of my fondest Christmas memories of my whole life will be teaching Jingle Bells Batman Smells to one particular class. This class was the most disliked in the school with a bunch of nutty students. We got a long great. I mentioned the song to them and they asked me to teach it.
“Mister Faux teach us the Jingle Batman song.” So I said I would if they were good. They were and that afternoon groups of the class were belting out Jingle Bells Batman Smells in the cavernous corridors of the school. Once where Soviet Anthems and communist propaganda flourished was a juvenile bit of western culture. I was thrilled.
The next Christmas we had Benjamin along with Harrison and Naomi. It didn’t snow that year even though it was cold and icy. Prajna hinted she wanted perfume. I was in a touristy shopping area and asked the price of Chanel #5. When they told me I blurted Jó Isten (good God). Prajna got a very small bottle for Christmas.
That same year a shopkeeper gave me a wide warm smile and told me Boldog karácsonyt. I smiled back and returned Merry Christmas which they understood. It was nice to know plenty of people knew that English phrase.
Boldog karácsonyt everyone.