Christmas is a time for family and my parents are coming to Poland for the holidays for the first time ever. It’s also their first time in Poland in winter – remember they’re Floridians – but their third time in Poland overall. We’re really looking forward to having them here (and in our house for the first time) so they can experience a Polish (and maybe a white) Christmas. We’re going to share Christmas Eve and the first day of Christmas (also called Christmas day in America) with my husband’s family, only one of whom speaks English. Want to come help translate?? Oh, the joys of a binational family.
Luckily, my parents and parents-in-law have met before. And actually it went really well. We just translated for them and they basically spoke to each other without much issue. Both sides seemed to enjoy it and all was ok. I’m sure it will be the same this Christmas but I have some worries. What exactly?
Winter. Generally it’s not the best time to visit Poland because the weather is pretty abysmal most of the time. I’m sure my parents are crossing their fingers that it’s bright and sunny and not white and frosty. I believe they have coats but good enough for full-blown winter? Highly unlikely. Do they own winter boots? Of course not because even if it’s cold in Florida, there’s never ice or snow. So it’s going to be fun for them.
The food. This is kind of the most important thing on Christmas, isn’t it? I think the food is good but you’re expected to try everything, at least it’s polite, but I’m not sure how that’s gonna go down. My parents are pretty picky (Sorry mom, don’t be upset. You know it’s true. love you!), especially when it comes to new food or things that look a little strange. For Americans, nearly the entire Christmas menu is a bit strange looking – at least in our family. Siemieniotka? Moczka? Cabbage with mushrooms (Americans don’t really eat it)? Makówki (again, poppy seeds aren’t the most popular)? Compote z suszu? Forget it.
Opłatki. This is kinda awkward for everyone, isn’t it? I just say the same thing to everyone but when you don’t understand the wishes that someone tells you and have no idea what to say in return, well that’s the height of discomfort. This year actually will probably be better for me cause I won’t be the most confused person at the party. What a relief!
Time. Typically our Polish family meets each day of Christmas and sits together for around 6-7 hours. You know what we do cause you probably do the same. We eat, talk, eat more, talk more, listen to Christmas music, maybe watch something on TV… but mostly we just talk. It’s hard to talk when most people present don’t speak your language, so that’s one thing. I can translate but it’s not the same level of comfort. You can’t listen to other people’s conversations and add something, you either have to start your own conversations or just sit there. Trust me, I know that pain well. In addition to that, my family isn’t the type to sit for hours and hours at the table together. I think I’ll recommend turning the TV on this year.
Anyway, I know despite those little things, it’s super cool that our families are willing to spend time together and that they have the chance to meet and get to know each other a bit – even if they can’t speak to each other directly. And I’m sure everything will turn out better than expected. Wish us luck!
Has anyone else ever had a similar situation? How did you manage?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year you guys! Wesolych Świąt i Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!!