As I sip my coffee this very morning of Christmas Eve, I am surrounded by nostalgia of my childhood. But, first, of course, I just finished up setting the table for tomorrow and helping my mother figure out the best way to seat 20 people in our kitchen. After moving some furniture, we figured it out. #winning
Taking a few minutes to reflect on this very blessed year, I simply sit and smile and think of all the tradition and happy memories that this one night brings to so many.
I am inspired to tell you the story of a very vivid Christmas memory from 1985. It turned into a fun a little poem. Every word is true. You may think it was an illusion, but I still believe.
May the magic of Christmas kiss each and every one of you tonight.
A Very Merry Croatian Christmas
by Diane Kolanović-Šolaja
*some words are in Croatian
About 30 years ago on this very night,
A little girl named Diane was on her way to mass at midnight.
With festive skirt on and Mary Janes on her little feet,
She was so excited that perhaps Santa she would meet.
She sat patiently in her pew and sang her carols aloud,
While her and brothers laughed at the old men that stunk of garlic and baccala in the crowd.
She counted the angels on the ceiling that added up to 13,
Which today reminds her of her big brother in heaven unseen.
After mass that night and getting through the NYC fashion crowd,
Her Dad carried her to the car with promises of Santa he vowed.
The memory still so vivid Diane still recalls,
The brisk December wind and the beautiful church and very big halls.
But, the drive home after took so long,
That Diane’s little eyes soon closed while singing carols and Christmas songs.
As they pulled up to the driveway in the Cadillac in blue,
She knew it was time to wake and open her eyes to something new.
Diane’s wishes all came true while she looked up at the sky,
A star shone so bright she couldn’t believe her eyes.
A shot through the darkness as a falling star tumbled in the air,
She knew, she knew that St. Nick was up there.
She jumped out of the car and said “Santa! Santa is there!”
While her mother said “Oh, my dear child, that is simply the Lord’s prayer.”
Whatever it was Diane didn’t mind,
She knew in her heart that it was special and divine.
It still sits with her today that very faithful night,
Where she knew she saw Santa, reindeer and Rudolph in flight.
A Christmas Eve memory which still rings true,
Although being adult is different it is still the center of you.
Christmas Eve is something so special some cannot describe,
But oh that feeling of joy is the greatest light and vibe.
I am proud of my roots as all of you may know,
I really do love being a first generation American-Cro.
A Croatian Christmas is more than just prayer,
It’s love, family and the intoxicating scent of frite in the air.
It is stories of old and history a new,
With thoughts and drinks for those who rest in peace that we once knew.
It kisses and arguments and discussions of politics,
Until the rakija comes out to take new photos with selfie sticks.
A Croatian Christmas is sarma and roasted pig and pasta that is handmade,
It’s also playing Briskula, drinking and celebrating the friends we have made.
It is a time to remember our parents immigrant struggle,
But, also a time to rejoice with family and a good snuggle.
It is mulled wine and spirits,
And, the hope that Sv. Nikola will visit!
A Croatian Christmas has Jaslice, wheat grass and seven fishes,
It’s also codfish, sipe and lots of Dalmatian wishes.
It’s cousins, uncles and aunts,
It’s eating so much that you need to unbutton your pants.
It is the best day of year that I know,
And, I will love it until the day I grow old.
It is too warm this year for snow and white on the ground,
But, the giggles of my nephews is a much better sound.
Let the magic of this time fill up your hearts,
It is much, much more than “add to cart.”
May the spirit of Christmas filled with love and blessings be upon you,
That is my wish for each and every one of you.
* * *
Merry Christmas, everyone!