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Christmas

2020 Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek

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Thank you to everyone who attended our Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020!

Please enjoy the following highlights and photos (screenshots!) from the event.


Prayer and Message from Fr. Timothy Whalen, PFA National Chaplain


A Polish Christmas Tradition: Sharing of the Oplatek


Remarks by Trish Del Busse, PFA National First Vice President

Ordinarily, we would walk around, share the Oplatek, hug, kiss and offer each other a very Merry Christmas and good wishes for the New Year. This year is quite different and very challenging in so many ways. But we are still gathering (even though virtually) and it is still the most wonderful time of the year!

I would like to offer a few reminders from books and movies:

  • The true spirit of Christmas lies in our hearts!
  • Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we cannot see!
  • The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
  • Christmas isn’t just a day; it is a frame of mind!

Christmas gift suggestions:

  • To your enemy, forgiveness.
  • An opponent, tolerance.
  • To your friend, your heart.
  • A customer, service.
  • To all, charity.
  • To every child, a good example.
  • To yourself, respect.

Jesus is the reason, Christmas is the Birthday of our Lord.

And so, this Christmas season may our hearts with gladness glow, as we remember the blessed story that took place so long ago. This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ child. Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first.

John and I along with our family Wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Wesolych Swiat!

I usually wish a Happy, Healthy New Year, but this year, I will also add out with the old and in with the new!

Hopefully, 2021 will bring us much optimism, joy and prosperity. Instead of wishing for an extraordinary 2021, let’s pray for a somewhat ordinary 2021!

Czolem!


Cicha Noc (Silent Night) (Video Credit: Polish Eagle)


Special Message from Larry Kozlowski, PFA Cultural Commissioner


Photos (Screenshots!) from the Event

Click to enlarge.

Additional Carols:

VP Trish: Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child!

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Years ago, when I first heard about the Elf on the Shelf, I was totally baffled by folks wanting to participate in this nonsense. I mean, it is Christmas time! There’s cleaning, decorating, shopping, and baking responsibilities added to our already overwhelming lives! Who has time or desire for something else to do!!??

Well! A few years ago, Mimi (Ryan & Ryanna’s other grandmother) decided that this is a wonderful thing; Fisbee arrived at their home. When I would go down there, the kids would be so excited to show me what Fisbee had been doing. Ryanna would take my hand and lead me to Fisbee! The excitement and the joy! The kids decided that I needed an Elf and sure enough an Elf arrived at my home.

All of a sudden there was an Elf who needed a name; the name Sparkle was chosen. Sparkle jumps from location to location and periodically brings a gift (like their hats for the Polar Express!), but usually she just hangs out. On December 6, she ran into St. Nicholas! Some days, she leaves us a note. Ryanna finds it interesting that Fisbee writes like Mommy and Sparkle writes like Nonni!! Wonder why?

Sparkle also doesn’t make messes and misbehave. I mean, the Elf flies back to the North Pole every night to report to Santa, so why would she be naughty! Plus, she helps! When I purchase wrapping paper, there is no need to hide it because Sparkle takes it up to Santa! Sparkle is also a baker (she is mine after all!).

Ryanna expected Sparkle to have a new outfit this year and sure enough she did. Notice her pretty plaid skirt, her fuzzy vest and of course, her footwear!

The greatest joy of all is seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child! The Elf is a perfect example!


I am trying to get into full swing with my baking, using some of my typical recipes but I thought I would share this one:

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Beat until creamy:

  • ¾ cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • ¼ cup sugar

Add:

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla

Add:

  • 1 cup cranberries (fresh if possible)
  • ½ cup chocolate chunks (same aisle as chocolate chips)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Using a scoop, please cookies on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes.

Generally, I chill my cookie dough; this is one that doesn’t need it (think it is because of the corn syrup?).


Looking forward to sharing the oplatek with many of you during our Virtual Oplatek.

Please encourage the younger Members who are graduating next year to visit our website regarding information on our Scholarship Programs. Our program is funded by donations from Members, and they want to see their kindness go towards helping a Member on their road to a higher education.

Czolem!

VP Trish: Polar Express! (and Nest info)

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Obviously, our ways of celebrating and enjoying have been drastically modified this year. Our ride on the Polar Express was no exception. I remember when I had mentioned to Ryanna that we wouldn’t be able to ride the Polar Express this year (Two years ago, we rode one in Ohio and last year, one in New York.), she asked if we could do this at home. This got my wheels spinning, and the only thing I think that could have made this better would have been if I had played the audio version of the Polar Express Story in the car (which we have and have listened to previously), but I hadn’t thought to do that!

Last Friday, Conductor Nonni put on her conductor hat and climbed aboard her beautifully decorated train (Gaga wrapped battery-operated Christmas lights around the luggage racks, the hood and the wreath that he had secured to the grill along with a Rudolph nose. He also affixed reindeer antlers and Polar Express flags to the racks, placed a Polar Express sticker on the front window and attached a Polar Express license plate to the front of the car). The first stop was to pick up Ryan, Ryanna and Mama. The kids donned the hats that elf, Sparkle (another story) brought, then came out of their house to the sound of a locomotive (YouTube!). Once they showed their tickets, they jumped in. While riding around the neighborhood enjoying the decorations provided by the community, they sipped hot chocolate and ate cookies. When we chugged through Mon City, Santa was in his little house so we stopped to visit with him. Of course, we had to social distance.

Once aboard again, we continued on our journey. When we arrived back at the station, (the outside of the station was decorated with lots of lights including their climbing dome) there was a visitor with Gaga. It seemed that Santa made an early stop to Ginger Hill! The family room had been decorated including a tree and lots of other decorations.

Santa gave each of the kids a bell ornament (if you know the story, this is very important!). Probably the best surprise for the kids was the “sleigh” that Santa used that night. We took a walk to my garage and were surprised to find that Santa had driven to our house in a red corvette! Santa allowed the kids to sit in the car, start it, and bring up the headlights!

Ryan & Ryanna understand that the real Santa never leaves the North Pole as he is too busy. His helper, Bernie (a friend of John’s), was able to get out of his extremely warm suit and spend some time with us. Each of the kids gave Santa some candy as a thank you! Santa will receive cookies in a couple weeks!

The amusement, the joy and the fun made this night another wonderful experience that I am blessed to share with my grandchildren. I would love to hear how you are celebrating all the while keeping you and yours safe.


Nest Information

Each Nest Financial Secretary received their end-of-year packet of paperwork around Halloween. Most of the forms are not due until February 28. BUT, if your Nest has the National Office collect your Nest dues, we need the roster and forms returned to us (deadline was last week). Please submit this or there will be no changes made to your Nest dues bills.

Each Nest President received a letter via email regarding the election of Nest Officers. The point of the letter is about the Nest elections. “Since these are unusual circumstances, especially concerning gatherings, the Board of Directors approved the recommendation of the Legal Committee that a Nest can extend the term of its current Officers for an additional year. This would eliminate the need to hold a meeting to conduct an election this year. Please note that a Nest can still conduct a meeting, virtually or in-person, if it chooses to do so.”


Keep safe! Enjoy the preparations for Christmas, try not to get bogged down by the work and simply enjoy the season.

The Story of St. Nicholas

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Today as a part of our Christmas series of emails, we invite you to read the story of St. Nicholas below, and then to make your own St. Nick candy bar wrappers. Candy bars make great stocking stuffers, gifts for co-workers, teachers and classmates! To receive our weekly Christmas emails, sign up here.

The Story of St. Nicholas
Written by Samantha Wallace

These days, especially in the West, the day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas season (although we’ve all seen Christmas decorations going up for sale as soon as Halloween ends). But for Polish people, including the Polish diaspora living around the world, nothing says the holidays are here like St. Nicholas Day (Dzien Świętego Mikołaja) on December 6.

The day is the feast day of the revered Christian saint, who – through his reputation for protecting and giving gifts to children – is generally acknowledged as the inspiration for Santa Claus. However, Nicholas is still separately celebrated for his own merits and contributions to Christianity, especially in Poland, which has a strong Christian background.

Born during the 3rd century in a village called Patara – in an area of what is now Turkey, but at the time was part of Greece – Nicholas was a devout Christian from a young age, at a time when Christianity was still in its infancy and was still being strongly persecuted in some areas of Greece and eastern Europe. He came from a rich background and inherited sizable wealth when his parents died while he was still a young man, but after his parents’ deaths, he used the wealth he inherited from them to, as Jesus proclaimed, “sell what you own and give the money to the poor” – especially to children. This is, most likely, where the idea of Santa Claus/St. Nicholas giving gifts to children began.

Nicholas’ faith and devotion to the poor earned him love and respect from the Christian community, and he was made Bishop of Myra in Lycia in 317 A.D. Due to the turbulent religious times, he was imprisoned and then exiled under the direction of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, but he was eventually released and attended the pivotal Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., which brought together leading figures in Christianity in order to discuss and solve issues about the early years of the faith.

There are many tales told of Nicholas, most miraculous in nature, about his generosity and protection of children. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters; in older times, a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value, known as a dowry, and the larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, however, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were destined to be sold into slavery – but mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home, providing the needed dowries.

The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes for gifts from St. Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold, which is why three gold balls – often represented as oranges – are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas.

Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens when a wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a pickling vat. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at the same inn, and in the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed to God, the three boys were restored to life.

Nicholas died on December 6, 343 A.D., and he has been recognized as a saint since long before the Catholic Church began regulating canonization procedures in the late 10th century; the Roman emperor Justinian I built a church to honor St. Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the 6th century. The celebration of his life and legacy continue to this day, with Poles commemorating it in their own unique way.

The festivities begin the night before, when stockings are hung by the fireplace in hopes that they will be filled with nuts, tangerines or oranges (emblematic of the gold balls said to have been given by St. Nicholas to the poor man’s daughters), and small gifts by the Saint. In older times, freshly cleaned and polished shoes were set out for these gifts.

Nicholas is said to descend from Heaven that night with an angel helper and travel by sleigh (another inspiration for Santa Claus) to visit homes. It is said that he would give out the small gifts and oranges, and often pierniki, saint-shaped cookies made with honey and spices, as well – the making of which is still a tradition in many areas of Poland. Another older tradition held on feast day was when small boys would dress up as bishops and beg alms for the poor. Old or now, these cherished traditions ensure that the selfless legacy of St. Nicholas will continue in Polish homes around the world.