The Table Is Set

The food is prepared. The table is set. The guests arrive in a few hours.

It’s still an odd thing for me to celebrate Christmas. I grew up in a sect that held Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and assorted other holidays and celebrations to be pagan — as evil as Satan himself. (Notice I left Thanksgiving off the list: I wasn’t raised a Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for now, I’ll leave off the details.)

I began celebrating Christmas in Poland, during a stint in the Peace Corps during the late 1990s. It was an exclusively cultural experience for me.

In the end, I married a Catholic Pole and continue celebrating Christmas, aware of the spiritual significance it has for my wife. A Polish Christmas Eve meal is a Catholic celebration, with prayers and scripture readings. It is a meatless meal, and while the mood is not somber, it’s an evening of reflection.

Such a change from the commercialized nonsense the church of my youth railed against.

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