Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Carols' Christmas

Christmas circa 1955 - Carol 10 years old

My dad was very Polish what with his parents being born there. Not only did he speak the language, his family lived near a Polish Catholic church in the Delray section of Southwest Detroit.

While we lived in the suburb of Lincoln Pk and went to a small, plain church, St. John's was gorgeous, a mini-basilica to me. We went to midnight mass every Christmas Eve and I actually looked forward to it. My cousins and I, along with our parents and other people, walked thru the neighborhood in the dark and thru people's backyards, to get to the church. That was exciting! Scary, and I couldn't understand how we could just walk thru people's yards. I mean, I was from the suburbs.

I'd walk into the church awe-struck. SOOOO pretty. There was a dome over the altar with a mural of saints flanking Jesus on a throne. There were statues everywhere. The altar was a mile high, inlayed with gold. The mass was in Polish, the choir sang in Polish, and the sermon was in Polish.

Sitting with my cousin Sandy, and being kids, we would fool around a bit. The times we didn't, we dozed off. One year there was a woman in the pew in front of us wearing (I don't know how to explain it but I think they were minks, each critter biting the tail of the other one forming a stole around her shoulders and they all had eyes.) That same night Sandy was wearing new mittens made out of some kind of fur. My god! Being kids, we took one look at that stole and her mittens and while we we're supposed to be reverent, as if we were into the Polish mass, we died trying to NOT laugh. We'd look at the minks, we'd do things with her mittens to mimic them, we'd whisper stuff and start to choke, trying so VERY hard to not burst out laughing. That night is my most fond Christmas memory. It was so much damned fun!!!


Anonymous said...

Carol, your story cracked me up! I can visualize the entire event the way you told it. The lady next door to us wore one of those beady-eyed fur pets for YEARS! It's probably for sale now on eBay!

One thing, though, growing up in Seattle, I always wondered when we visited my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, in Michigan and Wisconsin why there was a Polish church, a French church, a German church....

Anonymous said...

Out of us six kids, I was the only one who routinely got the "lecture" from my dad when we traipsed off to Mass. "Keep your hands off the furs!" If we sat -- no kneeled (kneel, kneel kneel!) behind a fur coat, I couldn't resist sneaking a touch.

I was also the kid who just had to touch the March of Dimes Cake to see if that was real frosting.

Anonymous said...

Public universities chase excellence, at a price

Hmmmmm. I wonder.

Anonymous said...


Send an email to Harry Reid's chief of staff and tell her what you think about the cockamamie scheme for the troop "surge."


DEN said...

Great stories!

Still four days left before X-mas!

Need more X-mas stories!

You don't want me to post a story, too depressing! HA!

O'Reilly said...

Carol, Oh the excitement of Christmas Eve! Is full of the big “A” - A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N. Like you said, when you get to be old enough, you get to stay up late and go to Midnight Mass. I too remember the church decorated in advent colors, prepared for the baby Jesus - the coming of Christ. The organ cranked up loudly playing at every interlude and as accompaniment for most prayers. The choir singing, father singing, and in the excitement of the moment, just about everyone else singing, even people who wouldn’t be caught dead singing in the shower. (Which by the way, happened too – someone was caught dead singing in the shower but that’s a story for another time.) Mass, which usually takes 45 minutes, (30 when Father Jim says it) lasts over an hour and fifteen in the wee hours of the morning on December 25. Oh come let us adore him, O come let us adore him… All the while, visions of “sugar plums” if you know what I mean, danced in my head.

Your story brought me back to a time I haven’t thought about much lately. Because there were no catholic schools in my town, I took the Sacred Heart/Saint Michaels school bus seven miles to attend catholic school two towns over, grade 1 through grade 6. Many of the catholic school kids were polish like my buddy Jimmy Kaminski and Tina Slabinski. There were some Irish kids, like Sharon Dunn and Tommy Dunn and German kids, like Billy Metzger, who taught me how to whistle (two different ways) but the majority of the students were from polish families. Boy did we have fun. Again, that’s another story.

Thank you for sharing a delightful story about your Christmas past, Carol. You got me in the spirit and I’ll never look at a mink stole with critter heads the same way.

Anonymous said...

Come on O'Reilly! Submit a story to Den!!!!!!!
What you just posted is a great story! But you indicate you have others! Tell us!

Carol, Bill loves your story, too!

Anonymous said...

Robert Gates makes "surprise" visit to Iraq today. His trip, like those of all senior American officials since 2003, was not announced in advance for security reasons.

THIS WOULD BE A MEASURE OF PROGRESS IN IRAQ: The day when "senior American officials" can travel to Iraq without keeping it a secret.

Anonymous said...


bush said today..."As we work with Congress in the coming year to chart a new course in Iraq and strengthen our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must also work together to achieve important goals for the American people here at home. This work begins with keeping our economy growing. … And I encourage you all to go shopping more.

Anonymous said...


Q Good morning, Mr. President. Your former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, advocated for a lighter, more agile military force. Have you now concluded that that approach was wrong?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I strongly support a lighter, agile army that can move quickly to meet the threats of the 21st century....However, that doesn't necessarily preclude increasing end strength for the army and the Marines. And the reason why I'm inclined to believe this is a good idea is because I understand that we're going to be in a long struggle against radicals and extremists, and we must make sure that our military has the capability to stay in the fight for a long period of time. I'm not predicting any particular theater, but I am predicting that it's going to take a while for the ideology of liberty to finally triumph over the ideology of hate.

A long war indeed.

In his own owrds...press conference transcript

º¿carol said...

O'Reilly, thanks for sharing a story with us. Very nice to hear something personal from you.

We went to St. John's every Easter morning, too. During that mass they had a splashy procession of several priests, scads of alter boys in red cassocks, the boys and girls in their first communion clothes and incense. Ah, the incense. I loved that smell.

Merry Christmas to you, O'Reilly.

º¿carol said...

Micki & Bill, thanks!

I've got another story from a couple hours ago. I was in the kitchen wrapping presents, Bob walked by with peanut butter for Izzy and they went in the LR.

I was listening to my audio book and wanted to make a comment about the story I was listening to so I turned off my Walkman and went into the LR and no Bob. Just Izzy licking peanut butter out of her Kong.

Thinking he went to the computer room, I walked down the hall. No Bob. No Bob in the john. No Bob in the bedrooms. Huh?

I walked back to the LR and asked Izzy where her grandpa was, then walked into the kitchen and there he was, standing by the fridge with a smile on his face.

Apparently, he was by the sink when I left the kitchen to talk to him. He stood there the WHOLE time I looked for him, listening to me calling his name. Sheesh. We had a good laugh over that one.

º¿carol said...

That dope in the WH told us to go shopping. How ignorant is THAT! I swear, this country is like living in Bizarro World.

Jeanne said...

Wonderful story. I grew up in Fridley (Den's stomping grounds) and Columbia Heights. A lot of the kids in my school were first and second generation Eastern European. There is a big church there too. There are those kind of churches all over the Twin Cities.

I went to midnight mass once. That was all I could stand. It went on forever.

Jeanne said...

Do you remember when George Sr. was trying to help the economy by going to the store at Christmas time? He set such a wonderful example. He bought a 2 pairs of socks. And he didn't even know how to buy them. Actually purchasing something was foreign to him.

Jeanne said...

I shouldn't say anything but did you notice that my house is the biggest? Thank you Den.

{ò,ó}arol said...

Jeanne, Den gave me a pioneer shack without indoor plumbing!!!

DEN said...

HEY! wheres the X-mas spirit?

I gave all the option bringing your own pics, so no complaining yous girls, or I'll, I'll,.....LOL!

Where the heck is Carey?

Since no one else sent me their story, I am forced to reveal the deep depressing childhood that I once had, WAWAWAWAWAWAWA!!!

Stay tuned for more!

Anonymous said...

Den gave me a house that's gonna be flooded.

Anonymous said...

Someone should call Carey. I bet she has great stories!

erling krange said...

Still no snow for Oslo
Temperatures in Oslo dipped below freezing as the week began, but meteorologists quickly dismissed any hopes of a white Christmas in the capital. The weather was due to warm up again by Christmas Eve.
The hills above Oslo are usually covered with snow in December, but not this year. A heavy frost and some spectacular sunrises helped raise holiday spirits for snow-starved Norwegians this week, but it wasn't due to last long. Cloudy skies and some warm winds from the south were set to plunge Oslo back into a mid-winter gloom. "And there's no sign of any major change in the weather after Christmas, either," state meteorologist Jan-Erik Johnsen told newspaper Aftenposten. It's not all that unusual that temperatures rise the week before Christmas. Legend blames all the ovens that are running in full operation as families bake all their holiday cakes and cookies. If that's true, though, this year's baking will run well into January given all the forecasts for a continuation of this year's unseasonably warm weather. Official long-term forecasts suggested that only residents of northern Norway and some areas of the mountains can expect traditional snow and sub-freezing temperatures through December 26. Mild temperatures are in store for the rest of the country. Snow fell heavily in the mountains of Møre og Romsdal on Monday, though, closing some roads and contributing to some car accidents. Even snowplows were involved in some of the accidents, perhaps because they were out of practice.

Aftenposten English Web Desk


Today is the shortest day of the year. Only a little over six hours of daylight. Further north, the sun does'nt raise at all. A lot of people are depressed this year due to the fact that there's no snow. At least, the snow makes the landscape looks brighter, instead of dark and gloomy. We've had a lot of rain this fall as well, but this is a good thing for the hydro electric power stations, their basins are now filled up. (Low power bills for the households!)

Gerald said...

Gerald’s Christmas Past

Dear Posters:

As I read your memories of past Christmases, I recall many of my Christmases. For Christmas I was blessed with a shirt or a pair of pants. Occasionally, I would receive a shirt and a pair of pants.

My father would hang up the stockings. He would place in each stocking – an orange, an apple, some unshelled nuts, and some rock candy. Going to the stocking was very exciting.

In our home I remember that we had no hot and cold running water. We would take a bath after the water was boiled on the stove and mixed with the cold water. On schooldays I would wash up in cold water.

Since I was born in 1939, we faced WW II with the rationing of goods. We had a water tank put into our home when I was about twelve or thirteen. We had to continuous light the pilot light for hot water and if you forgot to light the pilot light, you would only have cold water for washing up.

We had a coal furnace and the coal would be delivered. It took years to replace the coal furnace. Coal was rationed during WW II. If you ran out of coal, it was too bad. Coal was placed in the furnace to last until about 1:00 am. Since my father was off to work early, he would put the coal into the furnace. My mother worked an evening shifted at an airplane plant. Since my father had poor vision, he did not serve in WW II. There was talk in early 1944 that he would be drafted on an as need basis.

My parents bought my pants with the idea that I would grow into them. The legs were longer and so the extra fabric was there to patch up the seat of the pants and the knees.

Shoes were also a size or two bigger so I could also grow into the shoes. Money was scarce. I recall that through the years I would wear out the soles so bad that I would put cardboard inside the shoes until my parents could afford to put on new soles and heels.

We never had much in our home but it did not matter because my father had a great sense of humor and we had ample laughter in our home.

Yes, those were the days. I did not realize that America had sniveling brats until I was older. Having to want is not always a bad idea. Same holds true for delayed gratification. Nazi America is a nation of spoiled, sniveling brats. Nazi Americans are also into immediate gratification. We are also a very selfish people. The wrath of God will someday be directly aimed at our nation and her evil ways.

I guess growing up with humility has prepared me for any bad times that awaits our devil incarnate nation.