Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Eve: An Original Memoir Poem

I’ve already begun food preparations for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. We still dine on traditional Polish foods on December 24th. Fish and pierogis, which look a lot like Chinese potstickers, are what we eat—no meat on Christmas Eve. One of the traditional dishes we don’t eat any longer is jellied carp. EW!!!

Yesterday, I prepared the stuffing for the potato and onion pierogis. Today, I’m going to get to work on the stuffing for the mushroom pierogis—which I make with mascarpone cheese and mushroom duxelles. This weekend my daughter, my two nieces, and I will be stuffing about 150 pierogis. (One of my nieces is going to make the potato and cheese pierogis at her house.) Then we’ll freeze all the pierogis and cook them up just before our Christmas Eve feast.

My older niece, who will be our holiday hostess, will bake haddock and scallops. We’ll also have pickled herring. We’ll serve the fish and pierogis with sour cream, horseradish, and my niece’s delicious homemade tartar sauce.

When I was young, my maternal grandparents hosted the family Christmas Eve dinner. It was always a magic night for me. I loved gathering together with my grandparents, aunts, my uncle, and my first cousins. We always had such fun together. We kids would stuff ourselves with pierogis. We’d dance around the house while my Uncle Benny played his accordion. We’d exchange presents—and share a lot of laughs.

Here’s a memoir poem I wrote about a typical Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house. The details are still clear in my mind after more than half a century.

By Elaine Magliaro

Just after sunset the whole family gathers
in my grandparents’ kitchen.
My father, Uncle Benny, and Dzidzi
bring up the spare table and chairs from the cellar.
Babci spreads white cloths printed with red ribbons
and bright green wreaths over the two tables.
Then she lays out platters of pierogis,
pillows of homemade dough
stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and onions
or sauerkraut, a bowl of jellied carp,
pickled herring smothered in onions,
and small dishes of horseradish
tinted pink with beet juice.
Before eating we stand around the table.
Dzidzi breaks the oplatek,
the thin white wafer blessed by the priest.
When everyone has taken a piece,
Dzidzi gives his blessing,
“May we all be happy, healthy,
and together in the year to come.”

Amy has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

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