Day 17: Christmas in my home country, traditions and pics

Day 17

Linking up for Blogmas 2014…25 Days of Christmas. Because I LOVE Christmastime…not even a flurry, yet!! 😐

My grandma (we called her Gram or Grammy) was the one who celebrated with some Polish traditions.  We went to her house for Christmas Eve Dinner, along with all my mom’s siblings and families, so a good 20 people gathered together.  I’m sure it is different in Poland, but these are the Polish traditions we have observed.

My favorite part of the evening was right before dinner when we shared opłatki  (pronounced o – pwat – kee) or theDSCN4904 Christmas Wafer.  This is a thin rectangular wafer that is embossed with a nativity scene.  It is pretty much tasteless, since it is made from just flour and water.  Each person had a wafer on their plate, and we greeted everyone with a “good health, wealth and happiness for the new year” or some other well wish, as we broke a piece off of each others wafers and ate them.  I think I am the only person in my entire family who actually likes to eat oplatki.  Everyone else would take the smallest bits from each other.  They also tried to be sure that they weren’t left with a big piece of their own, so they would hold it loosely between their fingers so the other person would end up with a bigger piece.  My mom and sister still observe this tradition on Christmas Eve, and they know to save all the leftover oplatki and give it to me.  🙂

Our dinner consisted of Czarnina, Fish, Shrimp Cocktail, Pierogi, Sauerkraut & Noodles, some sort of vegetable and some dinner rolls.  Being Catholic as well, we did not eat meat for the dinner, we did have fish.

Czarnina – (pronounced Cha – NEE – na) or Duck’s Blood Soup.  Yes…you read that correctly.  I don’t think any of us kids ever ate it, (I could never get past the one ingredient, lol) usually my mom and her siblings were the ones who enjoyed it the most along with my grandma.  It’s a very dark soup, with a sweet and sour taste to it, there are raisens and prunes in it, and it’s served with Kluski noodles.  Years ago they would actually cook a duck, for the base or broth of the soup.  I’m assuming since they had a duck, they had the blood, and thought…hey, why not add it to the soup? (I’m totally speculating here…still can’t wrap my head around it).  Anniehow…my mom tells me that she now knows that it was mainly for the color, and not so much for the flavor.  Also, when my grandma made it, she usually used spare ribs, since duck was generally more expensive.  My mom has made this without the secret ingredient, and has duplicated the taste without any problem, I would consider trying it now.

The fish was some breaded filets, and as I remember it, the Shrimp Cocktail was only for the grown-ups, or else I just didn’t eat it. 🙂 #pickyeater

Pierogi – (pronounced pair – roh – gee) these are dumplings filled with potato, cheese or sauerkraut.  They are first boiled and then fried or baked.  We usually baked ours with lots of butter.

After dinner we would open our presents, and once that was done, all the trays of cookies, Roshky and nut roll would be put out on the table.  We would visit for a little while longer, before we headed home to rest a little before we went to Midnight Mass.

Wesołych Świąt
(weh-sohl-ih shveeaht)

Merry Christmas!!

Day 16: Christmas Tree Reveal

Day 16

Linking up for Blogmas 2014…25 Days of Christmas. Because I LOVE Christmastime…not even a flurry, yet!! 😐

My two youngest have started their shopping, so they wanted to get their gifts wrapped and put under the tree.



On our tree are these very old candles, that clip to the branches.  These are like the ones that my grandma (my mom’s mom) had on her tree when she was little.  This is how they lit their trees, and they only did it for a brief moment on Christmas Eve.  Once it got dark outside, they would light the candles, sing and song and say a prayer before their Christmas Eve dinner.  It was probably very pretty, but sounds like a bit of a fire hazard to me. 🙂


Each one of my kids have made my mom an ornament out of Legos over the years, there is a candy cane as well that I didn’t get in the picture.


Day 15: Christmas Decorations

Day 15

Linking up for Blogmas 2014…25 Days of Christmas. Because I LOVE Christmastime…not even a flurry, yet!! 😐


This year our little town has added some decorations, so I decided to share these with you.  This is the town I grew up in, it’s a small town that sits right on Lake Michigan, and when you look across the drink you can see the Chicago skyline.  Along the lake front is a beach and a park.  I have so many great memories of bike riding with my dad through the park, 4th of July Fireworks, laying out at the beach with my BFF getting’ a tan and sledding in the winter with my brothers and sister. Over the past couple of years, they have really renovated the park, with sidewalks to walk along the lake, beautiful gardens, gazebos, benches and trees.  Now it is extra special for us, because we were able to get a bench in memory of my dad, and my niece also had a tree planted for him.  He always loved the lake and the park.  My daughter and I went out the other night in the freezing cold to get some pictures of the holiday decorations.


All through the park there are lighted displays on both sides.  You can drive through or get out and walk.  The lake is to the right, and the park to the left.




snowflakearchThere are two archways with snowflakes

santaWe have a HUGE Santa on the main street in the business district

The other night we went to a musical at one of the churches out here.  It is a living Christmas tree.  It is a huge tree that is covered in lights and is about 4 or 5 tiers high, and the singers actually stand on each tier, and as they sing various Christmas carols, the lights are synced with the music.  It was called Snow Biz, so there were snowmen and snow decorations all over the church.  It was a really good show, the kids really enjoyed it.  This is what is on the front lawn of the church.

snowmannlI just loved this guy!!  So cute!!

This is the snowman that greeted you when you walked in the church, so clever!!

The other day, as I was looking out the window, I happened to glance down at the Christmas village, and of course my son has not disappointed me.  Yep…a Clone Trooper…chillin’ on a park bench checking out the Christmas tree.  This is my middle son, he has been doing “custom” designs on his Lego Clone Troopers, by painting them and adding pieces of metal from pop cans on them.  It’s a thing…and there’s a guy who has You Tube videos showing how he does it, lol.  It’s very creative and keeps him busy. 🙂


Day 14: Favorite Childhood Memory

Day 14

Linking up for Blogmas 2014…25 Days of Christmas. Because I LOVE Christmastime…not even a flurry, yet!! 😐

I have already shared a couple of favorite memories, like going to Midnight Mass and the year I received the stuffed monkey/chimp.  I have soooo many good memories of Christmas growing up.  But I think my all time favorite is how we used to visit family or friends, or had people over to our house.

My dad kept in contact with a couple of friends that he grew up with, and as their families grew we would all get together with them a couple of times during the year.  Even after all of us kids grew up, they would still get together, from time to time.  In my pre-teen years, I would always look forward to the time we would have the two families over for Christmas.  (this may or may not have had anything to do with their good-looking sons 😉 ).  We would have the house all decorated, and my mom would have already baked all the cookies, so she could make trays of cookies.  I always knew she was preparing for company because when she returned from grocery shopping there would be extra bags of chips, and dip and several liters of pop.  This was a pretty big deal for us, because we ordinarily did not have pop in the house, only during the holidays.  My mom is really good at making things look nice…whether it’s decorating the house, or serving food for holidays, everything was placed just so.  This was all before you could learn from Martha Stewart or get ideas from Pinterest.  Maybe it’s a trait you can inherit, or else we just learned it by helping my mom, because my sister and I both have it, and I see it in my daughter as well.  Anniehow…Usually we would have our friends over in the evening, and just serve snacky foods and cookies.  It was usually a pretty late evening, as the grown-ups spent the evening reminiscing and catching up.  The kids and teens would be in the basement.  I was at that age where I wasn’t old enough to hang out with the teens, and too old for the younger kids. I usually got stuck with the younger kids, while the teens had fun listening to music, playing foosball, or just hanging out.  Still it was an enjoyable evening for all.

I also remember going to my Aunt’s house for the holidays.  This would be my dad’s sister.  We usually spent time with my mom’s family on Christmas Eve.  But one thing that stands out for me, is how we dressed when we went to visit someone or had company over to our house.  We didn’t dress in jeans and T-shirts, we wore our “good clothes.”  It wasn’t that they were extravagant or fancy, usually for my sister and I it was a pair of dress pants, and a nice sweater, or this cool green jumpsuit that my sister wore when they were oh so stylish in the 70s.  My brother’s would have on dress slacks and button shirts.  Of course we fussed about it, but we did it, and it was actually nice.  We would exchange small gifts with all our extended family as well.  I remember one year I received a Levi doll.  He was made of Levi jeans and had all the authentic Levi labeling.  Something I LEVInever heard of or even seen before, but it became one of my favorites.   This is a picture of one being sold on eBay.  My mom still has mine, but he is packed away. He is pretty worn, since I had  him with me whenever I could.  I think I was probably 6 or 7 when I got him.

Looking back, it seems things were so much simpler then, and yet still fun.

Day 13: How are you counting down to Christmas?

Day 13

Linking up for Blogmas 2014…25 Days of Christmas. Because I LOVE Christmastime…still waiting for snow!! 🙂

 My mom has always been the one to provide a Christmas countdown for the kids.  It’s been different things over the years, but always included small chocolate Christmas candy.  This year my youngest (9) was actually counting down to the countdown.

My sister found this for my mom a couple years ago and this is what we are using this year.  The train is all wood, and there are drawers on each side.  My mom has added a twist this year.  Only the two youngest are doing it.  Each drawer holds some change (money), and then she has an elf holding a small bag of candy that she hides throughout the house.  So far he’s been found in the Christmas tree, hanging on a wreath, and in the fridge.  🙂