Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To all of Europe

Christmas in Poland will be a memorable one for me for many reasons, and it's not just because it was my first white Christmas - or even the first Christmas where I wasn't wearing shorts and flip flops. No, it wasn't even the joy of falling down a mountain on skis or soaking in a hot tub at the "Terma" water park down the road from our hotel in the mountains. Nor was it the insanity of Sylwester (Polish New Year's Eve), popping bottles of champagne on the Rynek with my brother and thousands of our closest friends.

So what was it? Rather than bore you with a story of my Christmas vacation, here are the memorable moments spoken by those who said it best:

"No, we do not have a wine list. So, what country do you want your wine from?"
-A waitress at a Krakow restaurant called Kuchnia i Wino (translation: Kitchen and Wine).

"No, Eric, don't drink the water! And no, I can't tell you why!"
-A well meaning Polish friend.

"To your health, and all of Europe!"
-A Polish gentleman, who after hearing my family speak English, kissed my hand and wished me luck as according to the Polish Wigilia tradition by breaking off a piece of my Christmas wafer. Wigilia is Christmas Eve dinner that has 12 courses, centered around carp. Ours also featured a traditional highlander band and a very underfed Santa Claus giving out presents.

"And I thought it was going to be Russia!"
-My culture shocked father, who even after being impressed by how un-Soviet Poland was, could still not understand the continuing fatherly presence of the one-man voiceover for foreign sitcoms on TV Polonia.

It's not Russia - it's home.

For now.