…is to find Babu’s 1934 diary – and any others! Call me greedy. I want to never run out of this work. Aaaannnddd who doesn’t love a holiday special? Here are three years of Wigilia entries:
Tuesday December 24, 1935
Had X-mas supper with the Olbrychs at our house. Got no presents but don’t mind a bit. Johnny wanted a Christmas kiss but I demurred. I said I didn’t believe in, I don’t. Caveman sent me a lovely card. Got one from Joseph Dudek.
Thursday December 24, 1936
Baked all afternoon. Got a satin slip from Johnny Krol and a 5 lb box of candy from Jaime. Went down street and bought Johnny K some Genny perfume. Auntie Helen and the family came and then Alice and Jimmy. Got a tennis racket from A+J and a dance set from Aunt Helen. After “Vigilia” they all went to church and left me with the kids. Baby Mary began to cry and I had to try many means of quieting her. Walking up and down was the only remedy. Finally she and I slept in a chair. Then at night I left Mom and Dad snored so I slept on the rug in the parlor.
Friday December 24th 1937
Ernie came in this afternoon and we exchanged gifts. Jeb was waiting for her. Jaime sent the usual chocolate but a very beautiful box this year. Mom gave me skating socks and gloves. Larry took us to Aunt Nelly’s and we had “Vigilia.” Attended midnight mass. Benny sent me a card from Maryland so I presume his home. Slept with Mary and Aunt Nelly.
I never read out of series order, but this year I wanted a dose of as much holiday as I could get. Therefore, some of it is a mystery. Several patterns jump out besides the fact that every year Jaime gets her a 5 lb box of candy! Hey, I guess there is something to be said for consistency. The first common thread was all of her beaus. Adam and I giggle about that but of course she had interested parties. She is gorgeous! The second is family. It’s fun to imagine so many family members crowding into a house so that people had to cram into beds with each other or sleep on the rug. I bet the noise was bombarding and the house warm from food and body heat.
Midnight mass was a strong Wigilia tradition in her family and I’m not religious, but that seems like the most beautiful of the Catholic traditions. Full of food and probably some wine, allowing the drone of solemn priests to soak through a sleepy haze. I can imagine the echos rising to the vaulted rafters having a quality they never had at any other time. It would be easy for anyone to believe the church had real magic.
Our evening together was beautiful along with all the other things family gatherings always are. Adam’s grandfather from the other side of the family was there and ten years her junior yet she is clearly doing far, far better than he is. He had a stroke and he is still moving through that fog, that darkness, taking a long processing time to answer very carefully laid out questions with only the simplest of answers. I said hello to him when I arrived and asked him if he remembered me. After a long pause he said: “Of course,” and I wonder if that was true and I wondered how much he did understand. However, things were different with Babu. As we were leaving she made her slow hunched over beeline for him and held his hand and spoke to him. He was quicker and understood her perfectly as if they had a connection no one else in the room had. She kissed her finger tips and reached out to him and he kissed her hand. My sister spoke from behind me: “Well that’s beautiful.” And it took all I had to hold it together.
The other day Babu was having a spell and Adam and I got her through it. She held my hands and I became very aware that the number of times this would happen were numbered. We returned home from Wigilia and I held her hand into the house completely full of knowing and glad the knowledge hasn’t left. I’m so full of gratitude for all the time I have left with her.