Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Traditions, Pt. 2

While on the subject of food traditions…

Rich’s family is Polish, and has always celebrated that heritage at Christmas time. On Christmas Eve, while most people are eating roast turkey and all the trimmings, we have what is called Wigilia (pronounced “vig-eel-ya) We dine on filet of sole stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and baby shrimp, topped with with a light and creamy cheese sauce, spinach salad with strawberries, and peroghi (potato dumplings). We used to have Borscht but nobody liked it so it got ditched several years ago. Don't ask me why we have fish. It's tradition I guess for Polish people. We also have straw under our the lace tablecloth to represent Jesus' humble birth in the manger. Rich’s sister Kristen graciously hosts us in her cozy home in La Canada and it is a special and cherished time. This year will be very different without Dottie.

Another tradition from Rich’s family are our unique Christmas stockings. Long ago, when Rich and his sisters were little, Dottie found a pattern and handcrafted these charming velvet stockings for her children. There are two types – one for each gender. Girls are red; boys are blue. The blue ones have "boy" angels and the red ones have "girl" angels. I know, I know - all angels in the Bible are male; you'll just have to try and overlook that or you'll not enjoy my story.
When my brother in law and I joined the family, we each received a stocking of our own. And, as the grandchildren came along, each received one as well. Kristen sewed the later ones and did her best to make sure the embellishments were as close as possible to the original ones. You can see by the photos that the stockings were very labor intensive, with each person’s name hand beaded in gold, angels’ hair french knotted and skirts sequined. So it was a special privilege and honor for me to have received such a labor of love. I just adore these stockings! More than just their charm, my personalized stocking conveyed to me that I was now an official member of the Harasick family - that I was part of their tradition by having a stocking of my own. I want to remember to make my children's spouses feel special someday - by including them in some personal way in our family's traditions. Maybe I'll make them one of these stockings!

We bring the stockings to Christmas Eve dinner and fill them for each person in the extended family. Then, at home on Christmas morning, just the four of us stuff them again for each other. I admit that we all kind of go overboard a bit on stuffing them- as little wrapped presents often overflow into a basket beneath the stocking – but we don’t mind! We each take turns opening something and the process goes well over an hour! I must say, it was easier and cheaper when the kids were little - as they would be thrilled over a new toothbrush with a Disney character on it, a package of gum, or some stickers. But it is still so much fun, and I take great joy in stuffing each one as well as opening all the small treasures. This is a tradition that our whole family truly enjoys.

No comments: