Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whad I Bring You?

The Christmas season is officially upon us now with the passing of Thanksgiving. I must admit that the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year with all the preparations that must be made as well as all of the fond memories I have of Christmas past.

One of my favorite Christmas hobbies is the collecting of Christmas music and traditions from different cultures all around the world. During the next few weeks, I am going to share some of these "different" songs and stories with you, which I think you will enjoy.

Being of Polish descent, I think it is appropriate that I start the holiday season off with some "Polish" Christmas music and an enjoyable Christmas story. Enjoy the Veggie Tales as they sing about the eight Polish Christmas Foods! Then, on the more serious side, enjoy one of the traditional Polish Christmas carols. Finally, enjoy a Christmas story from a story taken from a family at Downriver Christian Community Church.

The VanRiper Polish Christmas!

The VanRiper family came up with a great idea one year to celebrate the Christmas season through a new and exciting way. They decided that each year they would pick a different ethnic culture from different parts of the world, study that culture and its Christmas traditions, and then celebrate Christmas day with that particular culture's traditional foods. Great excitement filled the hearts of the VanRiper family as they set off on their new-found mission. Debbie, being "Polish," decided that the first year's celebration would be Polish! She contemplated how to educate her children about her wonderful national heritage and the richness she enjoyed as a young girl. She planned lessons, researched traditional Polish Christmas foods and songs, and set about to make the VanRiper Christmas a Christmas they would all remember!

On Christmas Eve, all the VanRipers and their relatives were gathered at the VanRiper house for their new traditional ethnic Christmas dinner! Debbie had taken great pains in her preparations for this meal. She had shopped at different Polish markets, looking for just the right authentic Polish foods. She even found some authentic Polish candy to decorate the place settings at the Christmas dinner table. The menu that Christmas Eve included sauerkraut - which had been cooked overnight - angel wings - which Katie obtained from elderly Polish ladies in the neighborhood -and "real" Kielbasa - which Debbie had bought at an authentic Polish meat market in downtown Detroit! The culmination of the special preparation was the making of homemade golambek (stuffed cabbage) and pierogis! All was painstakingly thought out and prepared with love and with anticipation of delightful appreciation!   

When the dinner was served that Christmas Eve, all the relatives were quite impressed with the spread. Smiles and talk of how impressive everything looked, smelled, and tasted flowed from the mouths of Debbie's relatives. She was caught up in rapturous joy of the moment. Unfortunately for Debbie, however, that joy would be short-lived! Debbie's husband and children were approaching the buffet line when they began experiencing culture shock and awe! "Where is the REAL Christmas dinner they all asked in total disbelief?" "This IS the 'real' Christmas dinner," Debbie countered, confident that once they tasted the food, they, too, would love the food! "Remember, we all agreed to have an ethnic dinner from a different part of the world each year." The VanRiper family managed to pick through the assortment of outstanding Polish foods available and find something. There were no words from her family as to how impressed they were with everything she had prepared, only looks of confusion and displeasure at the taste of new foods that they had never eaten before.

When the time came around the following year and talk began afresh about having a new traditional Christmas dinner, the VanRiper family decided unanimously that they were going to celebrate Christmas the old fashion VanRiper Way - ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and the same old same old.  If there was going to be a Christmas ethnic dinner that they could all sit down and enjoy, it would be the traditional "ethnic" VanRiper Christmas dinner! 

As we speed toward Christmas Day, take the time to enjoy this season regardless of the gifts, food, and busyness that can easily override the real reason we celebrate this season. May we enjoy the time with family and friends as well as the memories of Christmas celebrations that may not have turned out the way we planned, but left us with lasting and wonderful memories nevertheless. If you allow Jesus to really be the reason for the season, nothing will mean more to you during this great time of year!

Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia!

Stay Holy, My Friends!

Pastor Don

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