Thursday, December 22, 2022


  Today's focus is holiday traditions.  Many holiday traditions are rooted in fun and before the pandemic, we hosted a big buffet on Christmas morn.  All were welcome.  When I look back on it now, I realize that at least for the kids, the traditions were as much fun as the presents they received.

There was a gingerbread house party for family and neighbor children shortly before the holiday.  I would cover the rug with shower liners as part of the preparation (my tip for you if you try this--it worked).

On Christmas morning, family, friends, and whoever else who wanted to attend were welcomed at our Christmas brunch.  That's when the real merriment began.

The Christmas pickle:  A German tradition, whichever child found the pickle ornament on the tree got a special gift.

Christmas crackers are now found more easily in stores but years ago, I used to have to mail order them.  The crackers made a slight bang and contained a crown (which everyone did wear even cool teen-aged Maggie photographed here), a toy, and a joke.  The jokes were a favorite among the boys and men.  Each joke or riddle had to be read aloud, followed by a loud groan from the audience.

The final tradition was the Peppermint Pig, a Victorian tradition started by a candymaker in Saratoga Springs, NY.  At the end of the meal, the pig was placed in a bag and each person hit it with a silver hammer.  Our family always did this together and before we hit the pig, we shared what we were grateful for during the past year and what we hoped for the next.  Then we each ate a piece of peppermint for good luck in the coming year.

In Poland, they have the most special tradition.  We tried to incorporate it in our own way by setting up a buffet and lots and lots of folding chairs in this small house.

This tradition is very touching--the dining room is set up for a regular holiday feast except for one thing:  there is always an empty seat with an extra place setting.

That place setting is for any traveler or homeless person who happens to stop by.  It symbolizes what we always said about our celebrations:  there's always room for more.  

This past year, the Polish people did more than set a place for strangers at their holiday table.  They literally welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees into their homes.  There was no refugee shelters or tents set up.  Folks just brought them home.  

Remember when 9/11 happened and our planes couldn't land in the U.S.?  Instead they landed in Canada and Canadians came to the airport and took our folks home to care for them until they could travel again.  It was a kindness I have never forgotten. 

Now imagine that on a scale of MILLIONS.  The Polish cared for more than 8 million suffering and traumatized folks and looked after them until they could be relocated to a more permanent place.   The example they set was emulated by other European countries and yes, even the U.S.

What lessons we could learn by the kind Polish people who didn't just celebrate the Christmas holiday but exemplified a famous holiday quote that Scrooge stated in The Christmas Carol:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
Wishing you a safe and happy day!


  1. oh! tears in my eyes at the humanity and inclusion. It's so missing in some American hearts as they find reasons to hate. You've included all because, just because. I wish I could come to the buffet at yours

  2. I hope you have a warm and cozy Christmas. You’ll need lots of layers when walking the dog.