It must be a Polish Christmas cultural spill-over: we put out our lone Halloween decoration — a modest Jack-o-Lantern — on the twenty-ninth. Poles traditionally put up the Christmas tree just a day or two before Christmas, so I guess out late J-o-L is a sort of cultural cross-contamination. That or our hectic schedule.
This year, at least, we managed to make the time. Two years ago, we managed something, but last year it was a wash: the J-o-L-to-be sat in the carport, abandoned and unloved, until well after Halloween.
Naturally, as we worked on the pumpkin, the obvious comparisons came to mind: The Girl is now old enough to help, even if her help is a little more hindrance than anything else: a tentative hand in the pumpkin, a brush with the slimy entrails, followed by a sudden decision. “I don’t want to help.”
But she’s already helped enough by planning the design and serving as consultant. This year’s J-o-l was simple: a princess with a crown.
The Girl choosing a princess: how unexpected.
Once upon a time, there was a terrible, wicked queen. As a prisoner, she held a poor girl from a small, humble village. She fed the girl daily, played with her, took her to school, and inflicted other tortures too sadistic to mention here among polite company.
She was especially fond of binding the young girl’s wrists with Mardi Gras beads and flinging the poor, frightened girl onto the couch.
How those binds tore at the little girl’s flesh! But tight as the queen made the beads, she could not break her little prisoner’s spirit.
Her little captive still had the ability to melt hearts and frustrate daddies in an instant.
Thirty-three years ago today, Karol Józef Wojtyła became the only Pole elected by the College of Cardinals as Pope. It goes without saying that the logical thing for Poles to do on this date is to celebrate the event as only Poles can.
A picnic — in reality, an informal potluck, as everyone shares with all — is a good start, but just the Polish community did in May for the beatification of John Paul II, the afternoon really started with the outdoor Mass.
As always, when Poles gather together to celebrate some occasion or other, there must be some kind of performance. The children got a chance to show off their newly-acquired Polonaise skills, performing the same routine they did several weeks earlier at a local international festival.
And what would a Polish gathering be without singing? I can’t imagine American ex-pats gathering to do something like this, with the exception of Thanksgiving or Christmas. Even then, only Christmas would incorporate song, and probably not very willingly.
We can’t forget soccer.
Thank God for loving Babcias who send entire boxes of educational materials from Poland so that little granddaughters around the world can work on their Polish language skills.
Thank God for loving Polish mamas who daily work with stubborn half-Polish little girls in an effort to keep them bilingual.
Kiszka, potatoes, and sauerkraut with bacon.
I’ve never been much of a non-winter hat person. It’s not that I worry about hat head: I have no hair (or short hair at best). I only use hats to keep my head warm, and in the summer, the additional layer only makes me slightly miserable.
At the beach recently, though, I bought a sun hat with which I’m reasonably pleased.
It also works well as a hat rack itself.
It’s a yearly tradition now, the herald of autumn, and if we lived in a colder climate, it would serve as a bookend to the summer.
The selection is diminished at this time of year: the McIntoshes are long gone, if that’s your apple. Honeycrisp tress are long bare, and Pink Ladies are still not ripe. Of course, there’s always Red and Golden Delicious, as well as Granny Smiths, but those are at the very bottom of our list of favorites.
There are a few Cortlands on the tress, though, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find a McIntosh or two still hanging around.
And of course there are loads of Fuji apples.
We can easily fill the baskets with Fuji, and the Girl adores that particular cultivar.
The apples, of course, are only a means to an end, which is spending time with close friends.
With time, one’s definition of beauty evolves to include that which was once not beautiful, like compost.