Wednesday, December 27, 2006


That means Christmas Eve Dinner in Polish. My family had a Polish Christmas this year. Not because we’re Polish, but because for the past five Christmases our family chooses a country to pretend we’re from. There’s usually a reason behind the country of choice.

It all started in the year 2000 when we unconsciously kicked off the tradition by having a “Christmas around the world.” The following year my mom decided we should have a British Christmas because my parents go to England just about every year and English traditions were always a part of our upbringing anyway. The next year we did Germany because my mom was finishing up her MA in music and took German as her foreign language. The next year we had a Greek Christmas because my cousin Marissa studied Greece in grade school, and then last year we had a Feliz Navidad because my aunt and uncle went on an extended vacation to Mexico.

So this year we celebrated Polish traditions because my brother went on a mission to Poland (eight years ago). Christmas Eve is their big event, similar to our family. The dinner was interesting. We modified the traditional Wigilia seeing how carp didn’t sound appetizing. So we ate sausage, pork, pierogi, potatoes, dried fruit compote and bigos. My plate was really wanting a salad, but that wasn’t an option. I think my mom forgot the peas, but there was plenty to eat, even with 30 people at my parents’ house.

For dessert we ate this castle cake. My aunt Jill actually bought a mold especially for this occasion. Each year is quite the production. We could charge admission to our Christmas Eve parties. Everyone really gets into it. Whoever is hosting prepares a packet with Christmas traditions, histories, stories and carols from the country. My mom ordered these wafers online that all the men took and then passed around to everyone as we broke off a piece and exchanged well wishes. I kind of hated to eat them a) because they were so pretty with the design imprinted on them, and b) I knew they would be gross. They are similar to the communion wafer which tastes like Styrofoam. My mom also made stars on a stick for everyone that we held while singing Polish carols (there’s an old Polish tale about a lonely Polish star that ends up being the star of Bethlehem). I love my mom.

Carter talked about his two Christmases in Poland; about how his first one was miserable because he was sick, he had his worst companion ever and nobody at our house answered the phone when he called (we were all out in the garage checking out the new car my dad gave my mom). All the cousins (my generation cousins) each read a Polish superstition. Did you know that animals can speak at night but it’s bad luck to overhear them?

After the little Polish lesson and the singing, we moved downstairs for the second portion of the evening: My cousin Zach played a couple songs on his saxophone. He plays in the Davis High Marching Band, which is supposedly the best in the state. The best part though was when we jokingly asked my four year old niece Chloe if she wanted to dance and she went up there and danced for about eight minutes while he played. Half of us were on the floor laughing hysterically because it was the weirdest dancing we had ever seen and our laughing didn’t seem to embarrass or discourage her one bit.

Next was Uncle Lindsay’s movie clip game. He married into the family about ten years ago and felt a little out of place with our family’s focus on music. We used to do a program where just about everyone performed something. So Linsday decided his talent was movie trivia. The past two years my brother-in-law Josh won because he and Lindsay pretty much have the same taste in movies. But this year my sister-in-law Kelly and I dethroned Josh, tying for first place. I couldn’t have done it without the five-point bonus question where we had to guess which season of American Idol the clip was from. I don’t think I even saw it on TV, but if you follow Clay Aiken’s hairstyles it was clear the clip was his guest appearance on Season Five (last year).

I missed twelve movies, none of which I’ve seen:

Coming to America
The Jacket
Mr. Destiny
Broken Arrow
Must Love Dogs
Golden Child
The Right Stuff
The Dead Zone
Final Destination
Coach Carter
Men of Honor

I won a $30 gift card to Radio Shack, and Kelly won Cars on DVD. Lindsay always has a prize for the loser as well. One year it was a box of about 30 movies on VHS that he had recently upgraded to DVD. Lindsay has a ridiculous amount of DVDs. His entertainment room looks like a Hollywood Video.

The last activity was the White Elephant gift exchange. This year my aunt Susan put a twist on it by having us count off and then Carter told us our number in Polish which we had to memorize because when Carter said our number (in Polish) we had to jump up and grab a gift. There were a lot of us staring out into space whispering our number over and over again.

That’s all I really have time for and more than you need to know about I’m sure. I hope you enjoyed Christmas as much as I did!

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