I like December. It is a very special month and a very special time to me. A time of sharing, caring, giving and being there for each other.
Why is December so special to me? What makes it different from January or April? I believe that it is connected with a tradition I got from my home land and my parents’ house.
I remember when I was a child we did not have much at home. It seemed that the month was always a few days too long. I remember days when we did not have sufficient food. There was no money for nice toys or for fancy holidays. I usually wore secondhand clothes, often from my older sisters, which was not so much fun for a boy.
But when the end of November approached, all that didn’t matter! It became time to think about Christmas. No matter what, my parents have been committed to having a traditional Polish Christmas Eve. It is probably the most important holiday in Poland.
The preparation was quite intense. First of all, we needed to have 12 different dishes. All dishes should be without meat, which was not so easy in Poland. But we did have Carper, fish in a Greek sauce, vegetable salad, Kutia, Borscht with dumplings stuffed with mushrooms… No, not the mushrooms we know from Amsterdam, but real forest mushrooms.
Most of the time we could have 12 dishes, but in times when money was really short, we counted bread and pickles as a dish as well. In the end tradition was very important.
On the evening news, we have been following information about the status of the orange ship. Will the ship with Cuban oranges arrive on time? Cuban oranges were quite an important part of our celebrations. Only in December did we have the chance to taste oranges…
And of course we have been looking forward to gifts. Most of the time these gifts were some sweets and something very practical like socks or underwear.
But the most important was the 24th of December. In the morning we decorated our Christmas tree. Then we started to prepare the table. Under the table cloths there was always some hay. An extra dish and extra chair for an unexpected, lonely guest was added… Than we dressed up and we have been waiting for the first star to appear.
I was always worried when it was cloudy or snowy. What will happen if we won’t see any stars? Fortunately, my Mom could always spot a star. Even when I could not…
Just after spotting the star we moved towards the table where a special Christmas bread, which is only used for Christmas, was waiting for us. Each of us took a piece and standing around the table we have been waiting for my Mom to give a speech with wishes.
The wishes of my Mom were always positive and always big. Lots of health, plenty of joy, mountains of happiness and of course the fulfillment of all our dreams… Than it was time for the most important moment of the celebration; for the breaking and sharing of the bread and for giving wishes to each other.
I always tried to have different wishes for everybody. Something special for my Mom, my Dad and my Sisters. We shared bread together, we have been giving each other gifts and we really cared for each other.
Yes, December is a very special month to me. Even now when I have children and grandchildren of my own. Even while I live more than a 1000 km from my parents’ home, I still experience these special feelings. Feelings of sharing, caring, giving and being there for each other. And I must confess, it is a great feeling!
Therefore, today I would love to pass the same feeling to all of you and to wish for you to always have someone to share things with, someone to care about and someone who will care about you, to always have something to give and something to receive and the most important to always be there for each other.