by Eliza Sarnacka-Mahoney
Soon the Christmas season will be with us again.
The abundance of lights, color, good spirits and above all, of course, “goodies” which we will shop for until we drop, until we can no longer remember what was it that we wanted to purchase in the first place, irritated by the crowds of other shoppers we return home, tired beyond the point of wanting to talk or smile or even look at those we share our lives with. And all that will happen regardless of how often we promised ourselves that this year none of that would take place. Like many other emigrants in this country who desire to preserve some of their native Christmas foods and traditions, I will face an additional excursion to a far – away Polish store where I would purchase some “real” sauerkraut, some “real” dried mushrooms and many other “real” foods without which my Christmas table would not be the “real” thing. And then, on just that one magical evening, I will be transported back to my Polish home the way it was years ago, and especially on Christmas 1982.
The good “Gierek times” when life seemed to be normal and people did not have to stand in lines in order to purchase basic life necessities exist in my memory only in flashes. Even so, I am not sure if my memories are real or whether somehow I wove them out of my parents’ stories I often heard as a small child. The times I can remember well are already those after 1980, when the persistence of the serious economic crisis turned everyday survival into a real challenge.