Monday, December 29, 2014

TOK FM Christmas special extravaganza

The woman from the Polish talk radio TOK FM contacted me again sometime before  Christmas. She explained that she was doing a holiday special,  to explore if and how people who left the old country celebrated the season wherever life has thrown them. What they remembered and what they miss. I must say it is not a joy-filled couple of weeks for me and I doubt I was the best person to speak on the subject, but still I agreed to a Skype interview. I explained that back home Christmas was the time you always spent with family. The food, the tradition, the togetherness. It doesn't have to be religious. So much so, that during my first year here I did all I could to be with my cousin, his wife and son. Because he was family and Christmas is about family. Yes, Polish traditions, the Christmas Eve dinner, the food, the dishes that every child back home recognizes, the Christmas tree, the presents. Yes, it's something that you grow to miss. And it's probably one of the few days in a year when you wish you could physically be somewhere else. The suffocating and ever present Christmas decorations that pop up the week before Thanksgiving used to really get to me. Something about the carols and the snow, being home for Christmas and the plastic commercial holiday spirit would make me feel so isolated and alone. It's not that I was bored or looked for a way to kill time. Having nowhere to go and no one to see simply wasn't a good feeling. And yes, you can rationalize it. You're here, your family isn't and this feeling will pass. But then, Christmas should be something you sleep through. So I celebrated with my cousin a few times. But him living a few time zones  away in the middle of a Nevada desert doesn't really help us being in touch or making any kind of plans. So, I answered quite truthfully, that when I was in school I'd make plans to go somewhere because I had a few weeks off. Now I just focus on where I need to be and what I need to do the day after Christmas. Focusing on my Foundation and where I want it to go is more important to me than jet setting off somewhere so I can kill the blues and feel like I belong somewhere for a day. Yes, when there was a Polish group in town I felt a part of I'd celebrate with them, but there isn't one at the moment. I'm sorry my life isn't glamorous enough, but I'm not too concerned. Ten years into this journey that is America and you learn to develop a thicker skin about these things.  And when I was revisiting my inner Grinch or perhaps realist, another transplant from Poland was having her first Christmas in America, four hours plus of a car drive away, down in South Florida. Jazzy, as we came to call her became the creative Director for my foundation earlier this year when she responded to the volunteering ad we posted on Linked In. She didn't know I was Polish, she says she doesn't even usually look through opportunities yo give her services to a cause. But something clicked. I wasn't even the one who picked her, isn't it amazing how sometimes things have a way of working out? Though we met randomly we speak almost every day. And we have more in common that we ever imagined. So I told the radio journalist to speak to her next. She has that enthusiasm and determination a she was planning to have a traditional Polish Christmas Eve for all of her American friends. And I'd guess it be fun to see the hay under the table and the traditionally served carp and all the vegetables that she had to hunt for in specialty stores. And of course I was invited. But she lived four hours away. The journalist asked me if I was thinking of going. Yes, I was thinking and I wish I could have gone. But I knew it didn't really make much sense for me to attempt it. My life isn't some Christmas TV show special where the character makes it back home for the holiday dinner. There's a lot to do the day after, back home. And moving my causes further means more to me than eating herring or borscht sharing a few laughs or carols.

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