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Mr. Ed

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· A Home For The Holidays

· The Dog On The Tracks


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  Memories of Christmas - II
by Mr. Ed
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.

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Recent poems by Mr. Ed
•  A Walk With Dogs
•  Earth Day Blues
•  What Have We Become
•  The Victims of Our Cruelty
•  The Shredding Machine
           >> View all 1,516





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Each and Every Year at the Holidays


As I Begin Decorating My Own Home


My Thoughts Always Return to My Childhood


These Memories of My Past Etched into My Soul


 


˜


 


My childhood home was an old brick three story apartment building in the heart of the big city, and I loved living there with my parents, siblings, grandparents, and our many marvelous pets.


 


I especially loved Christmas time, with our family’s centuries’ old traditions, and marvelous ethnic food.


 


And I can still hear the voices of our many relatives who gathered at our home every Christmas Eve, joyously shouting out to one another:


 


 


“Zycze zdrowia, szczescia i fortuny, a po smierci niebieskiej korony!”


 


 


”May you be blessed with health, good fortune, and happiness


Which do not tarnish over the years,


And may you receive a crown in paradise!”


 


 


And as a young child, in my old ethnic neighborhood, I was fascinated watching my grandparents meticulously prepare for this most sacred event.


 


The major Christmas celebration in our large household took place on Christmas Eve, which is known as the ‘Wigilia,’ or ‘The Vigil.’  Traditionally, Wigilia was a time for forgiveness and a fresh start.   It was always bolstered by sayings such as, "As goes Christmas Eve, goes the year.”


 


And ever hopeful for a good 12 months to come, everyone in our extended family was polite and generous to one another at Christmas time, and each person forgave past grievances.


 


The Christmas Eve Dinner was also known as ‘The Star Supper’ since the first star seen on Christmas Eve commemorated the birth of Christ and represented the Star of Bethlehem.


 


My grandfather always let me watch for that Christmas star, and I would excitedly race up to the musty old attic with one of the family dogs, eagerly searching the darkening big city heavens for that very first star of the evening.


 


And my grandparents always dutifully adhered to the following steps on Christmas Eve:


 


Christmas decorating according to Polish folklore: Hanging mistletoe over the front door to ward off evil; placing wheat in the dining room corners and under the tablecloth to chase away misery.


 


Setting the dinner table with a fresh white tablecloth and their finest cherished china.  And carefully setting one extra place to remember absent family members, or to accommodate an unexpected guest.


 


Preparing the traditional 12-course Christmas Eve Meatless Meal.


 


Dishes they customarily served included barshch - a vegetable stew; fish soup; herring; fish in aspic; carp; stewed cabbage, and sauerkraut.


 


Sweets included dried fruit - kutia, a treat made from wheat, poppy seed, honey and almonds; poppy seed and honey cakes; ginger cookies; strudel; rolls; bread; coffee; tea; and cold drinks.


 


According to Polish custom, the Christmas Eve dinner began with a devout prayer led by my grandfather, and the breaking and sharing of the blessed Oplatek bread to represent Communion.


 


These sacred white Oplatek wafers, much like those used for Holy Communion, were shared with each person present at the meal. During this exchange, good wishes were fondly expressed by everyone.


 


And this was the most emotional time of the holiday for the traditional Polish family since beloved family members who were no longer alive were particularly remembered at this time.  I remember many tears being shed around the table by adult relatives as these Oplateks were ceremoniously passed around.


 


But to me, the most fascinating part of this ritual was that a pink Oplatek wafer was also shared with our many household animals who, according to Polish tradition, were the first to greet the Baby Jesus, and who are miraculously able to speak on Christmas Eve.


 


Exchanging Christmas gifts after the Vigil Dinner was finished.


 


Giving the family pets a special treat after dinner. In Poland, the head of the household would also take a special treat of leftovers out to the animals in the barn. Polish folklore explains that even the barn animals can speak in human voices on Christmas Eve.


 


Singing ancient Polish Christmas carols all night long. Carolers often visited households from Christmas Eve all through the end of the holiday season on January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings.  Most of these Polish Christmas Carols were based on songs and hymns composed in the 14th Century.


 


 


˜


 


 


My Cherished Childhood Memories


Of a Joyous Ethnic Christmas Past


Are Fondly Etched Forever in My Soul


I Will Never Forget the Many Lessons I Learned


About The True Meaning and Spirit of Christmas


Taught By My Grandparents So Very Long Ago


 


 


©2006, Mr. Ed


 


 


The music playing is ‘Lulajze Jezuniu,’ ‘Lullaby to Jesus.’  This traditional and well-known Polish Christmas Carol (Koleda) was used by Chopin.


 

 


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Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 12/9/2006
So very beautiful! It is one of our favorite things around this time of year, the memories of our childhood, which we try to pass on to our children and theirs. We just don't do it quiet as great and excellent penned as you do,(that's why we love to read yours!)
Love, B&R
Reviewed by Alexandra* OneLight*® Authors & Creations 12/8/2006
This is so beautiful, dear Ed,(the images, so vividly painted that they actually come to life, the music, even the flavours and the scents... but, above all, the love present in each and every word you used to write these memories) that it all brings tears to my eyes... but a warm, glowing, great big smile to my heart.
My own childhood memories of Christmas, being, in many ways, different - a different country, a different culture with different traditions - are, in many more ways - "the Many Lessons I Learned About The True Meaning and Spirit of Christmas Taught By My Grandparents..." - very similar to your own... and, like you, I fell very blessed for them, indeed.
Thank you for sharing this beauty with us all.
Love,
Alexandra*
Reviewed by Pier Tyler 12/6/2006
Thanks for putting us in the spirit during these Holidays. I love the memories.
Reviewed by Abdi-Noor Mohamed (Eagle Of Hope) 12/6/2006
Great chrismas poem. Too it did take us back to childhood memories
Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson 12/5/2006
Thank you for sharing the nostalgic memories of your childhood times. Traditions are an important part of ones heritage and nothing can take those cherished memories away.God bless!.......M
Reviewed by Paul Williams 12/5/2006
This is wonderful Ed, it takes me back to this time last year when I had the great pleasure of enjoying a traditional Polish Christmas with my then Polish girlfriend. Ah well! ;(

Wszystkiego najlepszego

Paul;-)
Reviewed by J M 12/5/2006
Love the Holiday Traditions here in Notation. I love this time of year engrafted are the memories of Childhood. A child cannot forget those especially in a loving family that makes memories and traditions... Beautiful Poem ED!!!!
Reviewed by Kate Burnside 12/5/2006
Away all you blow-up Santas and tacky sleighs... I want wheat and pink Oplatek... and to hear what my Golden Retriever's got to say for herself on Christmas Eve!! :)) How come I is so dense I never realised you had Polish roots? Especially as you is now livin at the North Pole... Such tender memories to be cherished and held tightly, Ed. In that way they will live on. Loved this insight, TY K xx
Reviewed by William Bonilla 12/5/2006
Memories are like Gold to be treasured
Thank you Ed for this wonderful offering
and shring with us, your Christmas family values
Peace be with you

William
Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks 12/5/2006
And what Heavenly memories these are, Ed! Too often the old family traditions are lost, but with new families, new traditions are born! For years, we've had a special cake on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Christ Child's Birth.

Many THANKS for sharing your memories and traditions of childhood!

Micke
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 12/5/2006
Wonderful memories Eddie!!

Thanks for sharing!!

Love Tinky
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 12/5/2006
You have been taught well :-) When I lived in Ontario one of my greatest joy's was being invited to join in with the Danish Celebrations of Christmas. They too celebrate Christmas eve. Part of their tradition is to sing around the Christmas tree. Loved it, as they would do it in their language and english. Then the next day my family would have our tradition celebrations on Christmas Day. Talk about a full stomach. Thanks for this wonderful sharing of Christmas memories.
Reviewed by Mary Lynn Plaisance 12/5/2006
So many emotions come out during this time of year. I enjoyed your writing!!!! I have fond memories, too. We're indeed blessed!
Happy Holidays
Mary Lynn Plaisance~
Reviewed by Ed Matlack 12/5/2006
You as always present a background of a great family life, I enjoyed the look back and envy you to a degree...my parents celebrated with lots of drink then mom would fall into the tree trying put the top angel or whatever on it...ah such drunken memories...;) ed
Reviewed by ~ Holly Harbridge (Reader) 12/5/2006
Christmas memories are so precious Mr. Ed...I have three Polish children.. last name "Schizkoske." What a handle!God Bless, Holly
Reviewed by Marguerite Lemoine 12/5/2006
No wonder you remember - sounds like a perfect Christmas - not everyone was so blesses. Have a good one now Marguerite
Reviewed by Chantilly Lace (Reader) 12/5/2006
Very beautiful...
Reviewed by Andy Turner (Reader) 12/5/2006
I did wonder if you did polish christmas'

I find it delightful that america still is strong on the christmas truth, from my experiance. England, Chrismas, wots that?
Reviewed by George Carroll 12/5/2006
Those are certainly fine memories to have and alas are mostly gone now in our secular society.
Reviewed by CJ Heck 12/5/2006
What beautiful memories, Ed! You've brought my own treasured memories back to mind as well. Thank you, sweet friend.
Love,
CJ
Reviewed by Victor Buhagiar (Reader) 12/5/2006
No Wycinanki? I have a nephew married to a Polish girl. Will be having Christmas lunch with them and I'm sure we will eat something Polish as a main dish. Hope you'll ahve a Happy Polish style Christmas this year too. Victor
Reviewed by Sandie Angel 12/5/2006
Hi Ed:

I could not hear any music, but I never knew that Polish Christmas is so interesting and so meaningful. You have brought this reader there with you by this write, and I'm glad I had visited. What an eye-opener this is!!!

Thank you for the offering!!!!!

Sandie May Angel a.k.a. Sandie Angel :o)

Books by
Mr. Ed



Where The Redwing Sings

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My Dog Is My Hero

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Curious Creatures - Wondrous Waifs, My Life with Animals

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Through Katrina's Eyes, Poems from an Animal Rescuer's Soul

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Cemetery Island

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Gold River Canyon

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Mystery of Madera Canyon

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