Christmas Day


For many years we did not have a Christmas tree. My parents were too busy to fuss with such. My older brothers were never children-since they had to assume adult responsibilities at an early age. In one capacity or another, each had worked in the mines from age 6 and onward. The emphasis at Christmas was on the birth of Jesus and the meaning of family. It is so different now days since the emphasis has shifted to the glitter of the shops, gift giving, and trees with multicolored lights and decorations.

When my sister Mary was about 12, she became more aware of the decorative trees in some of the houses and she wanted one. Thereafter she and Mike, with ax in hand would make the yearly pilgrimage to the woods for the perfect tree. As children we spent hours cutting and pasting paper as we fashioned colored ornaments for 'our tree'.

My mother and father never gave us personal gifts. Our gifts were the elaborate Willa suppers Christmas dinner, fruits and nuts. The only exception was the additional hard candies which Ma and Pa gave us which were in the shape of roosters, cats, ducks etc.. They were fairly large in size; we loved them and we tried to make them last forever--sometimes rationing ourselves to no more than five licks per day.

Early Christmas Day my father and three older brothers along with grandmother (weather permitting) would walk the 8 miles round trip to church.

On Christmas Day we had another big dinner. This time meat has the main fare. We were never short of fowl. Ma raised chickens, geese and occasionally ducks. The geese were always saved for special occasions. Ma and grandmother would roast two for our large family. There were more treats as well, including fresh baked pastries and pies.

Despite the absence of presents we still looked foreword to Christmas with just as much expectation as the children of today. There was never an excess of anything and we savored everything.

It was a time for the family to be together, to relax. It was a special time for visiting and being visited; a time for thanksgiving and goodness renewed. It was a time of much merriment.

Whenever a crowd gathered as at Christmas, Pa would bring down his song book of Polish songs and we would sing and laugh.The treasured memories will last forever.