Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. This morning on The Sound of Ideas, we’ll try to slow down the holiday pace and think about just what makes it wonderful. Maybe it’s a special, unforgettable gift; maybe the whole family still laughs about the big tree mishap of ’78; maybe it’s the year Grandma got run over by a reindeer. We have some thoughts on what makes the holiday time special for us; we want to hear what makes it special for you. Leave a comment below or send us an email at and let us know..or join the conversation Wednesday at 9:00.
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We’ve had great Christmases for over 60 yrs. I am the oldest at 61. My greatest joy was putting my kids toys together. Especially my son’s. He was into Star Wars and I put on the stickers, put anything needed together. My husband would ‘watch’ holding his Wild Turkey Egg Nog!! It took two hours to put my daughters’ Barbie Dream houses together. I just loved it. To see their faces that morning. Now, it is for my four grandchildren. I can’t wait. I bought my youngest daughter a ‘special’ gift and I cannot wait to see her face. Today would have been my 39th wedding anniversary. I have missed the Wild Turkey Eggnog since his death in 2003. Our son, 37, still has 98% of his Star Wars collection and is adding to it.
My favorite memories of Christmas in my youth started the morning after Thanksgiving every year. My mom and I would meet my aunt and my cousin downtown. We would get off the bus at E. 14th and Prospect, enter the Halle’s store and go through the underground “bargain basement” to the main store on Euclid. There “On Halle’s Seventh Floor” visit Mr. Jingling and Santa. Next, on to Sterling, Linder, Davis to see the big tree, Francis the Talking Mule, and Santa. Then we would trek down Euclid Avenue to W.T. Grant and have lunch at their basement lunch counter (they had the best cheeseburgers!). After lunch, on to the May Company, Higbee’s, Taylor’s, and Bailey’s department stores. All the department stores had terrific window displays (yes, just like the ones in Chrismas Story). At about 6:00 p.m. we would catch the bus home at Ontario and Prospect.
During the weeks to follow, there was decorating the outside of the house with my dad (I had a real knack for breaking those big light bulbs on the light strings we had back then). My mom and aunts would gather one day at my aunt’s house in Bedford and make cookies all day long.
Then Christmas Eve was the traditional Polish dinner called Wigilia. Aunts, uncles, cousins, Grandma (she was the only grandparent still living at that time), mom, dad, my brother, and I all gathered around one huge table, with a couple of smaller tables for the youngest of the crowd, would celebrate with the customs that were being carried on from the Old Country. I remember how the tears of love and happiness flowed when everyone personally wished each other health and happiness for the coming year.
The families are much smaller now and scattered, but we do celebrate Christmas Eve with Polish/Slovak traditional foods. I’m afraid we may be the last generation of our families to do so.