For the first time since moving from Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), to the United States, I am noticing International Women’s Day mentioned on television and in social media. While I was living in Europe, Women’s Day was an important day – it was celebrated in a very similar way to Mother’s Day. Back home, we learned the history of International Women’s Day at school. We celebrated March 8 at work with our coworkers as well as at home.
I suspect every household had their own tradition in celebrating March 8th. I loved our way.
Despite our busy lives, I would notice that my dad got a bit quiet a few days before the Day. The morning of, everyone would rush to get ready for work and school. He would present his beautiful and significant present to my mom – and I would just lose my breath looking at the perfect high heels and matching burgundy colored purse I’d seen in Alfred Hitchcock movies, no, seriously! The main female character would wear those perfect shoes matched with an incredible piece-of-art purse, gorgeous hair and a coat or a dress I could only dream about.
After numerous thank you kisses and hugs, mom would have to rush to work, clearly happy and loving her new set of shoes and perfect matching purse. Now I got to touch the shiny leather and feel the perfection in design and quality. I wondered – when can I wear those kinds of shoes? I thought, “when I grow up, I am going to have her hairstyle, and dress just like her”. Such elegance and timeless beauty.
When mom left for work, Dad and my sister were still at home. He would call us to the living room and show us two little identical vases carefully placed on the coffee table. In each vase there was a bouquet of violets. Their smell was so intense. It filled the room with the fragrance of spring. Dad lifted one of the vases and gave it to my sister.” Happy International Women’s Day Vera”, he told her with a smile on his face. My sister was much older than I. Already a teenager, she enjoyed the attention and the bouquet she just received. The second vase with violets was for me. It was the same size and just as pretty as my sister’s. I felt as important as my mom and my older sister, experiencing my first International Women’s Day present at age six. I was a tiny first grader, but proud and happy.
For us, every March 8th was the same. Mom would get her gift early in the morning, and my sister and I kept getting violets. They represented Spring and the changing season, but also something much more significant. Our dad showed us how important we both are and that one day we should expect the same treatment and respect from our life partners. He showed us how to give, how to choose a delicate and precious present. For me, those moments made treasured memories; the kind that make life beautiful.