My heart goes out to the grieving families in Newton, Connecticut, whose Christmases and lives will never be the same. I offer them my loving wishes of peace, hope and consolation.
When I was a little girl in Communist Poland, Christmas was always a festive time. Here are a few of my memories:
Our Christmas tree: its scent filled the air in our tiny apartment (600 square feet/seven of us lived there.) We decorated the tree with glass ornaments and also handmade paper ones, such as snowflakes cut out of white paper.
Oranges and lemons: It was the only time of year they were available. I would try to sip spoonfuls of lemon juice without puckering up. It never worked. I would make a horrible face and my family would laugh along with me. The rest of the time I ate the lemons sprinkled with sugar. Much better!
My grandmother’s and mother’s cooking: They soaked beets for barszcz, ground poppyseeds for strudel, made endless pierogi, salted herring, hung a rabbit on our balcony- prior to making paté…
My sister Santa Claus: As was the custom, someone dressed like Santa came in on Christmas Eve to deliver a sack of gifts. When a blond braid fell out, I recognized my sister and was quite surprised. I was the youngest, and everyone worried that my belief in Santa had shattered, but I knew better than that. Clearly the real Santa was too busy and my sister was just helping him out
Do I remember the gifts? Not a one. Yet, I am told I had received great ones- fancy dolls and a doll carriage, among others- from relatives in America.
I have no memories of presents at all, only of times spent with my family, of cooking, baking, eating, singing, of music playing, of making ornaments and decorating the tree, of sledding and building snowmen, of aunts, uncles and cousins coming to visit, of all of us gathered at the table, overlapped like plums in a tart, in our tiny, tatty apartment that was home.
Nowadays, it is easy to get all caught up in the consumerism of the season, and I don’t like it. Here is a poem reflecting my desire for a simpler and more meaningful Christmas.
Dashing through the malls
In a shopping craze,
Still so much to buy,
Only four more days.
Going into debt,
Getting really stressed,
Shopping, wrapping day and night,
Without a moment’s rest.
Oh jingle Bells, jingle bells
Don’t forget to spend some time
With friends and family!
Make some ornaments
Bake some gingerbread.
Skip that shopping spree-
Play a game instead.
Eat a tasty meal,
Hike or ski or skate.
With your loved ones by your side,
Have fun and celebrate!
Oh jingle Bells, jingle bells,
Here’s to happy memories
With friends and family!
Iza Trapani copyright 2012
Please be sure to check out the other Poetry Friday selections, hosted this week by Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe.
I wish you a warm, fulfilling and memorable Christmas with your loved ones!