November 28, 2015 1 Comment
How did your Grandparents celebrate Christmas? Here in America and in the old country?
This could be an important part of your family history. Celebrating holidays and special events gave the people an overall rhythm to their lives during the year and most immigrants tried to continue this in their new homes.
We all love Christmas because of its magical atmosphere. It is a special time when people forget all their problems and try to be together. Christmas helps people transform themselves from the cold dark realities of winter into a better mind by enjoying the festive celebrations surrounding Christmas. Family, relatives, friends, neighbors and complete strangers become kind, friendly and generous.
What are your memories?
Do you remember the Christmas tree at your grandparent’s house? What were the decorations like? Were they homemade of paper and foil or did they splurge and buy the colorful glass ornaments?
My early memories are of a fir tree in a corner of the living room filled with an array of wooden and paper figures that were mixed in with glistening glass globes. Shiny foil garlands were wrapped around the tree and silver tinsel hung on the tree and this gave it a festive look. I believe that this was the Americanized version of the Christmas tree that my mother who was born here had developed. My grandmother told me that in her village in Poland her father had hung the tree from the ceiling and the family decorated it with walnuts wrapped in silver and gold foil, bright red apples, gingerbread in fancy shapes, and chains made of glossy colored paper. A manger was set up near the tree. She and her brothers and sisters had made many of the decorations, but the manger and some of the foil decorations had been made by other generations and saved over the years.
My memories of Christmas eve and Christmas day start with Midnight mass and afterward being shuttled off to bed with a promise that Santa would come only after I was asleep. Morning brought cheer with the opening of presents with my parents and grandparents and then a large breakfast.
Are your memories? Did your family gather on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? What were the dishes that were served? My family had a ham as the main dish. Was ham on your grandmother’s table or did she serve turkey? What were the desserts?
These are the memories that will make your family history come alive. Capture them now while your memories are still sharp. Add the memories of your brothers, sisters and cousins to capture as many details as possible. Also, remember to enjoy the spirit of Christmas today.