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Poetry Friday: Christmas Memories

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.

Christmas Memories

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
Jingle merrily.
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,
Jingle merrily.
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!

About the author

Iza Trapani I am a children's book author and illustrator, fan of Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss, lover of big dogs, aspiring yodeler. When not in my studio, I spend time outdoors and have climbed over many a mountain to see what I could see.

30 Responses to Poetry Friday: Christmas Memories

  1. Joanna says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! My heart was gladdened by your sweet family memories, your poem and your message.

    Happy meaningful Christmas, Iza!

  2. Cathy Mealey says:

    Those are wonderful memories Iza! I heartily agree. I remember stringing cranberries and popcorn to decorate the Christmas tree – it gave us plenty of time to sit, relax and talk together. I also poked my finger often with the needle! Then I’d use scraps of wrapping paper to make paper chains, which was a lot safer. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Yes, stringing popcorn and cranberries can be painful and messy at times 🙂 – but like you said, a lovely way to spend time chatting and relaxing. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Cathy!

  3. Violet N. says:

    Love your memories of Christmas in Poland, and how they focus on relationships. Beautiful!!

    And the poem is so true. Wishing you another beautiful Christmas on your farm (yes, I took some time to poke around your website and found out a few more things about you *smile*)!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thank you, Violet! And your beautiful poem reflected a similar sentiment. Thanks for pokin’ around my site. I have done the same on yours! Have a lovely holiday!

  4. Loved hearing about your warm and wonderful memories, Iza! You are so right – it’s the family togetherness and the fun traditions we remember year after year – never the gifts. And I love your poem! Good thing you didn’t get it up in time for my contest or I would have had even more agony choosing finalists 🙂 Merry merry Christmas to you and all your family! xo S

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thank you so much, Suzanna! My poem wasn’t enough of a story, but I appreciate the kind words 🙂 Have a warm, peaceful,beautiful Christmas as well!

  5. Oh, dear Iza…I admit I’m sitting here a bit choked up after reading your beautiful post. Of course my little family in Italy is wonderful beyond measure, but this time of year is hard nonetheless. And I can’t think of Christmases past without getting too sad for times gone – I’m a melancholy sort sometimes! So I won’t reminisce, but instead look forward to making new memories with my little guys. Thank you for sharing your wonderful Christmas memories and poem. You are so right about it all – my husband and I are both minimalist non-consumers, so we don’t have to worry about all that silly stress! I’m eating a homemade Christmas amoeba cookie (aka toddler-baked stars) for you and wishing you and your family a marvelous, wonderful Christmas! 🙂

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thank you, Renee! Yes, here is to new memories with your adorable little ones (and your big guy too!) Do you still have lots of family in the U.S? It must be hard. My family is spread out over, Poland, Germany, Italy and Canada and I wish they were all closer. Actually, I wish we all lived in Italy together. I love the US and Poland too, but the Italian way of life, the food, the scenery, the art and architecture…really appeal to me.
      Enjoy your amoeaba cookies (HAHA!) Have a beautiful Christmas with your family in bella Itala! Xox

  6. Iza, Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories. I enjoyed reading them! I am looking forward to this Christmas season. We have managed to spread our family gatherings from December 22 – December 27! A week of fun with family!

    I hope you have a relaxing and memorable holiday!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Have a wonderful time with your family, Eric! With all of your great projects and outings that you enjoy with your family, you are the quintessential memory maker! Have a happy holiday season!

  7. Tabatha says:

    I enjoyed hearing about your Christmas memories! What a gift they are. Your dog is adorable in his hat 🙂

  8. What gorgeous memories, BBF. How I enjoyed traveling down memory lane with you. I smiled and laughed at your lovely remembrances.

    I agree with you. The commercialism stinks! And the people are so angry at this time of year. Why? So sad.

    We made ornaments in homeschool, we made peppermint bath salts and peppermint bark to give away as presents. That was so much fun! Though I must admit to being tired. Really tired. Why don’t people see the importance in TIME spent together? *sigh* I love you, BBF. Merry Christmas and a beautiful 2013 to you. (I’m so glad to know and love you.)

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thank you, my dear BBF! Your home was sweetly scented with peppermint and filled with love as you spent time making special gifts. Now go take a nice hot peppermint bath and relax! Have a wonderful, merry and peaceful Christmas, Robyn. Sending you all my love.

  9. Thanks for sharing Iza! This is a beautiful post. I thoroughly enjoyed your memories and, of course, your poem. I feel very lucky to be a part of two families (mine and my husband’s) who have cut way back on the material gifts and just treasure the gift of time together. I am in total agreement with you and cringe when I hear of parents going so overboard with the material aspect of the season.

    I read Jingle Bells to the kindergartners and showed them you and Jambo. They loved Jambo’s hat! The minute I started reading, they sang the Jingle Bells chorus. They enjoyed hearing and seeing ways Christmas is celebrated around the world.

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Oh you are so sweet, Penny! Thank you for sharing my book and Jambo pic with your little ones! I am reassured to hear how many people agree with keeping Christmas simple and treasuring the gift of time together, like you so nicely said.
      Have a wonderful, peaceful and loving Christmas with your two families!
      P.S. I LOVE your Christmas Bash-a-Roo poem!

  10. Hi Iza,
    Thank you for sharing your memories of Christmas. Your artwork is delightful as is your poem. Susanna’s right, if you’d entered her contest she’d really have a hard time.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! 🙂

  11. Joyce Ray says:

    Iza, your lovely memories are just what we need now. Thank you for sharing and for your poem that captures what many of us are feeling right now. Family is so precious. May we take time to remember the real reason for Christmas.

  12. B.J. Lee says:

    I loved hearing about your childhood memories and loved your poem as well. My husband and I are very un-commercial and won’t go near a mall at this time of year. I totally agree the season is all about closeness to family. Happy Holidays to you!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Thanks so much, B.J. I am heartened to learn how many people dislike the commercialism of Christmas. Have a wonderful, peaceful and memorable holiday season!

  13. I agree that we need to resist the commercialism of this holiday and keep it closer to our hearts!

  14. Iza, what a fun carol take-off! And it’s funny–on Poetry Friday, I usually don’t like lots of text in posts; I just want to read the poems! But I truly enjoyed learning a bit more about you and seeing these super-brief snapshots from your childhood. Your whole post made me smile.

  15. Heidi says:

    Iza, it’s very nice to meet you and I wish I had listed your memories as from Poland rather than New York! It was SOOO interesting reading about Christmases from your childhood–my favorite images was all of you gathered around the table “overlapped like plums in a tart.” I think one of the reasons we tend to feel compelled to buy stuff is to fill up the empty spaces in our grand big houses. A jingle bell is the perfect reminder that small is beautiful!

    • Iza Trapani says:

      Great to meet you too, Heidi! I think you are right- that shopping fills an empty space, and I LOVE your jingle bell reminder! Very sweet! Happy New Year to you!

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