Poland in Connecticut This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   "Dzisiajw Bethlejem ...
Dzisiaj w Bethlejem ..."
Lulaj ze jesunia..."

Stepping into my grandmother's house, the atmosphere iswelcoming. I peer into a small kitchen where a 70-year-old, five-foot-tall,rotund woman is belting out Polish Christmas songs. She is darting around lookinginto the pots and pans, making sure the food is fixed to perfection. She noticesI'm standing in the doorway and in her accent says, "Oh, Jena, hello myulka."

I am my grandmother's only ulka, her little girl. I smile ather and give her a hug and a kiss. "Hi, Babci. Ja Cie Kocham." I alwaystell her I love her.

I am absorbed in the aromas of the many foodsboiling, baking and steaming that interrupt the perfume of her hair and clothes.Babci talks to me for a few minutes and then goes back to her cooking. I move tothe living room, where my family is arranged on the couch in the same position asevery year before.

Scott, my oldest cousin, is at the end closest to thecoffee table. He sits there so he can enjoy the rolada, the chocolate roll thatBabci makes each year. On the coffee table is the tortenboden, a wafer dessertwith condensed milk filling. The desserts are placed with the other appetizersand with the sled jie, sardines and bread. The room is familiar; Babci's tree ison the table nearest the window. Four feet tall and fake, it holds over 200Polish ornaments, small boys and girls wearing Polish dance clothes. A glowingstar adorns the top.

My favorite ornament is the Santa Claus about sixinches long. The rosy cheeks and Polish flag on the coat attract me. This one,and many others, are from Babci's childhood. When I was six years old, Babciwent to Poland to visit her family and returned with Christmaschocolates. Since then we have never gone without these delicious Santachocolates.

Babci appears in the living room and informs the family thatdinner is ready. My uncle sits at one end of the table and Babci at the other,where she has easy access to the kitchen. Babci distributes the oblatek, a thinwafer that resembles the breaking of the bread during Eucharist.

"Iis so happy today. My family is around me today. I wish healthy family and MerryChristmas." Babci toasts her family. Her broken English always brings smilesto all. She raises her piece of the oblatek and begins the breaking of the bread.Each relative breaks a piece of oblatek and gives it to another as they wisheveryone a Merry Christmas.

Babci is ready to present her meal. She is soproud to show off her talents and heritage. Borcht and babka bread are served;borcht is an item that Babci prepares only for Christmas. It is soup made of beetbroth with meat-filled dumplings, uszka. Babka is raisin bread.

After thebowls are cleared Babci brings out more food. Perogies, dumplings filled withsauerkraut, cheese, or potato are served along with gravy, creamed mushrooms,kapusta, and honey ham. Dinner is a time for my family to listen to Babci'sstories of when she lived in Poland. They are memories I do not soon want toforget; I have such a wonderful heritage.

Babci has given me a part of herforever. Having the recipes, stories, and beautiful ornaments of Wigilia, aPolish Christmas, leave me memories and traditions I will pass down to my ownchildren someday.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 6:39 am
i love this so much!
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