Ukrainian Christmas (Greek Orthodox) is today and I always remember my grandparents on this day even though they have been gone for many years. I can close my eyes and see the twinkle in Grandpap’s eyes as he joked and teased with us and Bubba (my grandmother) would kind of hold her hands over her belly and shake when she laughed. Christmas eve and Christmas day at their home was a great occasion. The really funny part of this is that neither of them spoke more than a few words of English and none of us (the grandchildren) spoke Ukrainian but we had such a joyous time with them and somehow we were able to communicate pretty well even without mom or the aunts translating.
The cooking was done on a wood-fired range and Bubba was an awesome cook. On Christmas eve the priest would come by and bless the food. Grandpap would light some incense early in the evening. None of us kids liked the smell and would turn up our noses. There was always sauerkraut and peas, pierogi’s, nut, poppyseed, and apricot bread, cookies and WAY more food than needed. At the time, I (and my parents) lived nearby plus two more households of aunts, uncles and cousins. Everyone would gather in that tiny house for food, family and camaraderie.
Times were different then, when families lived closely in small communities. Today, families are much more likely to be spread all over the country and while traditions still exist, families can’t always celebrate together.
Good memories – priceless!