When I was young, my family and I spent Christmas Eve with my aunt and uncle. I can still remember getting all dressed up only to become a sweaty mess after running around with my cousins. Inevitably, I’d fall asleep on the car ride home, and my parents would carry me into the house.
As I got older, that tradition gave way to others. Being Catholic, my family and I attend mass on Christmas Eve (not at midnight, though—I can’t stay up that late!). We have a traditional Polish dinner called Wigilia featuring kielbasa (smoked and fresh), pierogi, sauerkraut, grilled fish, horseradish, and the breaking of the Oplatek. The Oplatek, or a blessed Christmas wafer, symbolizes unity of the family; each person breaks off a piece of the wafer while exchanging prayers and well wishes for loved ones, and then we consume our part of the wafer. We do this because, to us, Christmas is not a secular holiday, and it’s important to perpetuate the holiday’s true meaning.
On Christmas morning, we have leftover kielbasa and eggs for breakfast, and then we gather together to exchange gifts. Now, I don’t particularly like receiving gifts—but I do like giving them. In fact, my wife, Mary, has to talk me down sometimes because of my urge to give gifts before the big day. But what’s really special to me about Christmas is looking around on Christmas morning and seeing Mary, our four kids, and our grandkids enjoying each other. I’m so fortunate to have such a close-knit family. Nothing pleases me more than when we’re all together.
But while I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks, I’m also enjoying the days leading up to them. I love being at Plante Moran this time of year because, although people are busy, you can sense the anticipation that well-earned time off with family and friends is just around the corner. There’s something about this time of year that causes people to reflect—to be more aware of others’ contributions and to be just a bit more appreciative than usual. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.
So how about you? I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions. What are the things you look forward to, and how do you show family, friends, and colleagues your appreciation?