Category Archives: Christmas

The scents of Czech Christmas

A Czech Christmas in America

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I landed at JFK on this day 28 years ago to live permanently in the USA with my family. We had two days to get from NYC to Big Rapids to be home for Christmas. My dad Vaclav Konecny, former math professor at Ferris State University, did all the driving through New York City and on the treacherous turnpike to Michigan.

I will never forget this road trip in mom’s station wagon with frozen formations on the windows across five states.

My mom Ella in anticipation of our arrival from former Czechoslovakia did all the prep work in the kitchen. This included the traditional Christmas Eve dinner that consists of a mushroom soup,  fried fish with potato salad and traditional Czech pastries.

Czech mountains Radhost.

I knew immediately what I missed. Since everything was ready,  there were no smells in the suburban house, no scents of Christmas. I associate Czech Christmas with the aroma of vanilla crescents, hot chocolate that tops all filled pastries and browned mushrooms from the soup.

Since the Czechs put up their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve, you also get the smell of a fresh-cut pine tree.

After 28 years, I try to keep up with all the traditions of a true Czech Christmas. The only one that I had permanently dropped is putting up the tree on Christmas Eve. Other than that we adhere to the ritual of fasting on Dec. 24th  in order to see the golden pig on the wall according to an old legend. Mom bakes kolache for the Christmas Day breakfast, daughter-in-law Maranda and “recreate” traditional Czech pastries like chocolate covered “baskets” and Linzer cookies. We open up  gifts on Christmas Eve and we go to the midnight mass with carols.

Our son Jake plays Christmas songs on the saxophone, I accompany him on the piano. On Christmas Day, we mostly eat and drink, just like everyone else. around the world. We do the visiting on Dec. 26th which is the official second holiday of Christmas known as St. Stephan Day in the old country.

With this rather brief account of a traditional Czech Christmas, I would like to wish everyone a truly peaceful holiday season.

I have to run to bake some vanilla crescents, so I have the scent of a Czech Christmas in the house. Plus Jake called that they ate all the Christmas cookies Maranda had made.


A sincere thank you to all my friends and fans.

Merry Christmas.

Emma Palova

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book a friend

Books are perfect gifts for any age. They put a smile on a child’s face as they hold their first book in their little hands for the first time.

They also put a smile on your friend’s or grandma’s face s they glance at another new novel yet.

There’s still time to buy a book this week as a last minute gift. Just in the “Nick” of time.

Featured photo: Illustration of the nativity scene by Czech illustrator  & writer Josef Lada.

via Book as a friend

Traditional Czech holiday baking

Traditional Czech holiday baking is a lot of work, but the tiny desserts are delicious. They are not too sweet, and quite often they are filled with apricot marmalade & cream, chocolate or vanilla.

My cousin Marta Krajcova made these. Kudos to Marta.

For recipes and more info go to CJ Aunt Jarmilka’s Desserts at

You can find both on Facebook.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.

Traditional Christmas

Traditions alive in Fallasburg

By Emma Palova

Fallasubrg, MI – Old-fashion Christmas in the Fallasburg historical village is reminiscent of a bygone era with only horse-drawn carriages.

First you have to cross the Covered Bridge at the speed of no more than 5 miles into the village with the landmark Fallasburg Schoolhouse.

The schoolhouse is decked out for Christmas. The food buffet features everything from several types of meatballs to casseroles, appetizers and desserts.

The music is by Hawks & Owls band. The featured drinks are wine and spiced grog. The community known as the “villagers” annually flocks to the schoolhouse to celebrate Christmas in style.

A large bonfire caps off the event. Come and join us.


via Christmas in Fallasburg

In Retrospect 2016

Looking back at the second half of 2016

Note: This is the second post on the Daily Post theme “Retrospective” on

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- The second half of 2016 rocked and we rocked with it. We rocked the Milky Way as we elected the 45th president, Mr. Donald Trump by the vote of the Electoral College.

We’ve seen stars rise, shine and fall; both on the human scene and in the sky. Most recently we marked the death of Carrie Fisher better known as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Her mother Debbie Reynolds, the star of the 1952 “Singin’ in the Rain” musical died one day later.

They joined a string of deaths of famous personalities in 2016, starting with David Bowie in January and Prince in April.

We proudly watched the summer Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

We lived through nature’s wrath at us in tornadoes and fires, as we ran human stampedes in malls seeking deals after Christmas.

Finally, we were so disappointed after the much coveted “Hatchanimals” that didn’t hatch.

It was a year to remember, personally and nationally.

Things lost, things found in 2016

Summer breaks rediscovered 

In July, I rediscovered the magic of the summer break as our granddaughter Ella Chavent, 6, of Fixin’, France spent her first summer on our three-acre ranch in northeast Kent County.

Starting in July, every morning I took her to the St. Pat’s summer school in Parnell, MI so she can improve her English.

“Grandma, tell me one of your stories,” she asked.

During our brief ride, accompanied by the music of Queen, I told Ella about “that dude with the fancy Corvette,” who almost ran over a boy.

Together, we celebrated Christmas in July after I bought Santa and rocking horse ornaments at an estate sale in Fallasburg for quarter a piece.

“Who died?” I asked at the sales tent which featured lovely items like a black J. Marco Galleries dress with a perfume bottle pattern.

“Our sister did,” said the lady at the dress tent. “We miss her.”

We went to the Picnic Pops concert in Canonsburg to listen to the music of Queen. We beat the heat on the beach in South Haven and explored Ella’s first fairs: the Ionia Free Fair and the Kent County Youth Fair in Lowell.

We gardened and picked red currant to make currant pies, we bought tart cherries at H&W Farms in Belding and made tart preserves and syrup.

Ella went on her first field trips to local farms.

Motivated by Ella who was going to a catholic school, I returned back to church after a 10-year long sabbatical.

And a new journey has begun. I still have on the fridge Ella’s paper star with these words:

“You were made for greatness,” Pope Benedict.

August, Burgundy revisited

 Ella and I headed back to France in mid-August. I had her on a leash and she carried in her backpack a collection of stuffed animals.

“They are my tain tains,” Ella said passionately. I could only feel what tain tains mean.

“Grandma, hold on to me, I need you,” she said.

We held on together as we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris after a sleepless flight.

“Nice to meet you,” said a woman in a short skirt.

“Selene, this is mom,” Doc Emma introduced us. “Mom, this is our friend and au pair, Selene.”

Selene was the first of a colorful set of characters, I was to meet during my third stay in Burgundy.

From my studio on Rue Magniens in the peaceful wine village of Fixin’ I wrote about the “Climates” aka vineyards in the aftermath of the Bastille Day killings in Nice.

September, things new. .Podcast platform

 Upon my return from France, I dedicated my studio time to new accounts, such as the Americas Community Voices Network as we headed into the election.

It was a feverish time of exploring and discovering on both the WordPress and Podcast platforms.

The fall at the Pala ranch means preservation of pickles and tomatoes. Why? Because you have to answer to winter when she asks.
“What did you do in summer?” so goes the old Czech saying.

October, things old, things new

October delivered a bang in many different ways, on many different levels. My cousin Brona Pink of Stipa, maintenance manager for Zoo Lesna, visited the USA for the first time. He stayed at my parents’ Ella & Vaclav Konecny in Big Rapids.

Today, I wish we had spent more time together.

We also celebrated our wedding anniversaries, Ludek and mine, along with our son’s Jake & Maranda.

On Oct. 21, the Rockford Ambulance took me to the Metro Hospital on M-6 aka “Hotel.” I passed out from exhaustion and dehydration, and I started a new path to better health and wellness.

November ushers in president-elect Trump

 In spite of my better judgment, I voted for Mr. Donald Trump on Nov. 8th. As a lifelong Democrat I voted Republican for the first time. Doc Emma missed the election by one day.

“Good, at least she couldn’t vote for Trump ,” my mom Ella said angrily.

Tired of old Washington tactics, much like the rest of the nation, I was ready for a change.

A spiritual and physical change in everything.

I started with myself; I did a thorough inventory of my mind and my physical belongings.

I have fiction manuscripts collecting dust on the shelves in my studio. They’re good stories. I was the bad one.

I stopped the rut of yo-yo dieting and overeating. I cleaned the shelves of my pantry and threw out a lot of old things.

If perfection exists in this world, the family Thanksgiving 2016 was next to perfect. As a family we got together, we didn’t fight, nobody got drunk and we didn’t burn the turkey.

After the holiday, my parents left for their winter stay in Venice, Florida, as fires blazed in Kentucky and tornadoes whipped Alabama.

December whips and shakes

 Dec.7, 2016- On the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I tied yellow ribbons of hope around our ranch.

On Dec. 7th, I  published the first installment of the 2016 IW Inspiring Women series featuring artist Linda Kropf Phillips of Lowell at

Dec. 8- I started marketing a brand new account for Costa Rica on ETravel & Food at

Dec. 10- Together with the Fallasburg Historical Society, we celebrated the biggest “Christmas at Fallasburg” party ever, thanks to the power of the social media.

“Thank you Mr. Zuckerberg, your Facebook helped me make the party a huge success.

No pun intended, but it was a party for the “history books.”

On Dec. 17, I passed the Czech Christmas baking tradition on to granddaughter Josephine Marie Palova, 3. She joins the gallery of the Palova bakers spanning generations of traditional Czech baking.

Yesterday on Dec 28, I mourned the loss of my doggie friend, Annie. Annie was the neighbor’s dog who filled in the gap after my dog Haryk died almost three years ago.

“We’re heartbroken,” our neighbor announced Annie’s death.

“I loved her like my own dog,” I responded in tears. “Goodbye, Annie.”

As we close on this year, and the red dogwood twigs in Christmas bouquets have new shoots, the yellow ribbons are still hanging around the house.

Dec. 29- Today is my brother Vas’ birthday. He has completed 55 trips around the Sun. May he enjoy many more.

“Happy birthday, Vas.”

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Czech Christmas

Czech Christmas at the Palas

Note: This account of Czech Christmas contains excerpts from my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” © about the family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA dedicated to my mother Ella.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I carefully set my foot on the American soil for the second time on Dec. 22, 1989 at the frozen John F. Kennedy airport in NYC. I had two children by my side: daughter Emma, 10 and son Jake, 2.5.

With a shaking hand, I signed off on the US resident’s green card long before (Transportation Security Agency) TSA came into existence.

The night had already set in on the city with its million lights and bridges.

Before we headed out west like the early settlers, we stayed overnight at my parents friends’ house for some respite from the travel across the Atlantic.

In the meantime, my husband Ludek was waiting for us in Montreal, Quebec. He received immigration visa to Canada, while I received mine to the USA.

After two days on the road in a frosted car on the deserted turnpike, we arrived at our destination: the college town of Big Rapids in Northern Michigan on Christmas Eve.

Mom Ella had already prepared everything ahead of time as we picked up brother Vas in Roger’s Heights for my first Christmas.

Later, in the early years around holiday time, I would drive to the Gerald Ford International Airport in Kentwood and nostalgically dream about hometown Christmas in Czechoslovakia with all its magic under the chestnut trees. That meant treasures bought at the Zlin Christmas market. I brought a piece of that Christmas magic with me to the new country in 1989. This included the hand-crochet yellow doilies for afternoon high tea and tablecloths made by ladies from Slovakia.

Whenever I get homesick, and I still do, I pull these treasures out of their drawers at our Pala homestead in Lowell. I try not to use them so I can preserve them forever. I usually have a story attached to whatever I keep, and my adult children and friends can attest to that.


I think of that time long ago at the market under the chestnut trees. It must have been that first bronze shopping weekend in Advent when I walked past the booths with silver and golden coated mistletoe all piled up into these pyramids.

I was immediately drawn to a lady dressed in a folk costume called “kroje.” She was always there also on Saturdays throughout the year. I wish I had asked for her name.

“I am looking for a Christmas present for my mother,” I said.

“What does she like?”

That made me think; what does my mother like? Do I know her?

I picked up the yellow hand crochet doilies set and admired the craftsmanship that would become lost art. I looked up at the woman with an old wrinkly face from the sun in the Slovakian highlands.

“How much are they?”

“Your mother is going to love them,” she smiled as she held up the biggest met for the coffee table.

I was a student at the time, and I didn’t have a lot of money.

I remember exactly, they were 220 Czech crowns which was a lot of money for anyone to pay for a fancy fragile cloth.

“I’ll take them,” the lady wrapped them in a brown paper.

At our Southern Slopes apartment, I hid them in a closet. The Sunday after we came home from church, my mom made festive dinner and we sat down for desserts in the living room. We reserved Sunday afternoons for guests. Mom, like most women in the old republic, always baked for the weekends, not just around Christmas.

“You’re such a bake nut,” aunt Anna always laughed at mom because she was jealous.

I noticed the old worn-out coffee table met.

“Mom, I got something for you,” I said.

“Why? What is it?” she asked.

I came back and gave her the Christmas gift wrapped in brown paper three weeks early.

“That’s beautiful, but why?” she pursued. “It’s not Christmas yet.”

“Because I can’t wait for you to have it,” I said smiling. “I would die waiting. Please, please take it.”

That little episode still brings a smile to my face. Mom Ella knew how much I loved that set. When she moved permanently to the USA to join my father Vaclav in 1980, she left the yellow doilies set at home.

“Mom, you forgot your yellow tea crochet set,” I said in a phone call months later.

“I know, I left them for you.”

Merry Christmas 2016 and a sincere thank you to all my followers.

May peace prevail on Earth.

Czech Christmas to be continued……….Excerpts from the “Greenwich Meridian” © 2016-2017

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Finding peace in Christmas

Dreaming of a peaceful Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- As we draw closer to this Christmas, which here “up north” in Michigan, is white and cold, thoughts of peace resonate inside me.

In spite of the world’s aches and pains including my own, I have been able to put myself in the Christmas spirit.

Every year, Christmas for me is different. I can’t say that I have a consistent attitude toward this time of the year. It actually runs the gamut; from being tired of the ubiquitous commercialism and exploitation of the Christian holiday to embracing it in its entirety without fighting something I cannot change.

That is human nature.

Peace in Christmas
Hometown Christmas in Lowell.

I cannot change that parents are desperate because they can’t find the latest fad in toys the Hatchables, and that some woman hoarded them somewhere in her closet.

I am sure that problem will have been resolved in the next 10 years.

I cannot change that people are dying in Aleppo and that people died in the Berlin shooting at a Christmas market on Dec. 19. I cannot change that the Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated in Ankara on Monday. I cannot change that electors have indeed confirmed president-elect Mr. Donald Trump as the next 45th president of the USA in spite of the ongoing protestors who are in denial of reality.

Christmas bouquet with cutout ornaments.
Christmas bouquet with cutout ornaments.

I cannot change the consequences of the above mentioned actions because I am not in any place that would slightly resemble power.

Except for one: the power of the written word.

Historically, the power of the written word and its transformation over the centuries into different media platforms has influenced the thinking of most.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the most read book in this world, and that is the Bible. According to accounts, many authors took part in composing this book.

This year, some motels and hotels took the Bible out of their room furnishings not to offend anyone. Money talks. After all travelers are of all religious denominations and atheists.

But, I took offense. What if I only wanted to read the Bible for comfort of a weary traveler or for inspiration of an inquisitive writer? Thank you for reminding me, I know I have my cell phone, tablet and a laptop with me in the various hotel rooms. I can also get the Amazon or Google talking “Bubble.”

Christmas peace
Hometown Christmas by the wood stove.

After all some stories in the Old & New Testaments are very violent.

The next thing that comes to my mind are the Greek mythology mega-works such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey that have inspired a myriad of films. I deeply love all of them for the magic minds behind these works.

Some stories in Greek mythology are very violent.

The third thing that comes to mind in the powerful word trio are the works of Italian poet Dante Alighieri and French novelist Honore  de Balzac.

Dante’s “Divine Comedy” with depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven has inspired generations of artists.

Balzac wrote about the human experience  in “La Comedie Humaine.”

Some stories in these epic accounts are very violent.

While perusing through modern works of art or living them, I arrived along with millions of others to the following conclusion:

Hometown Christmas.
Hometown Christmas “Up North.”

Most stories in modern works depict prolific violence and human suffering.

“Why,” the public asks, “are all the stories even around Christmas violent?”

Because of the never-changing human nature.

“All the people around the world are the same,” my dad Vaclav says.

According to accounts from universities, my mom Ella’s and my own observations, my dad is a very smart man.

The overwhelming saturation of violence in the media has come to a point where some networks instituted an inspiring finale story that leaves us all with an overall good feeling that erases the previous footage of horror.

“Hail to them, because it works.”

I’d rather leave for bed with a story about a gentleman who finally got his degree at 80 or the Hungarian socialite Zsa ZsaGabor dying at 99, than with a story about a wedding party being trampled over by a tree or Kanye (the husband of Kim Kardashian)  having “some kind of a mental breakdown.”

The social media and the Internet have designed a class for a group of people who influence others: the Influencers.

Go figure.

Although, we cannot ignore the realities in this world, it is our choice what we focus on.

As we head both into the happy and sad time of the year known as Christmas, I have to quote my Gemini friend:

“Life is for the living, we’re only ants on logs.”

Live your life, don’t consume it.


Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


This post is in response to the Daily Post Friday prompt Anticipation.


So, Santa. We’ve been waiting and waiting for you to come down our chimney. We’ve swept and cleaned, and baked and shopped.
We’ve been good in our own way. You know, the kiddie way you love. We wrote letters to you to the North Pole @NorthPole, and you never responded. Your elves told us that you were too busy making gifts.

I Josephine Marie Palova of Hastings have been named the person of the family for 2016.
I asked grandpa Ludek why?

“Because you didn’t bug me,” he said. “You left me alone.”
I Ella Chavent of Fixin, France was also picked for this 2016 Anticipation series even after I told grandma Em that she annoys me.
Why was I picked?
“Because you made your first stay with us in the USA this summer very special and we anticipate another one,” Ludek said.

Dear Santa, we all believe you will come.

We anticipate Your coming.

Do you believe and tell us why?

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

White Christmas in Fallasburg pioneer village

Experience an old-fashioned white Christmas at Fallasburg tonight

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Fallasburg, MI- Come and chat with an old friend tonight during the annual vintage Christmas party. The topic will be “Christmases of the Past” at the historical village of Fallasburg.

Create some memories forever. Thank a volunteer from the Fallasburg Historical Society. They make things happen your round at the sleepy hamlet northeast of Lowell.

The FHS mission is to preserve Fallasburg history for future generations.

Visit Fallasburg tonight at 6 p.m. for a memorable white Christmas . Experience a white Christmas of the past inside the old 1867 Fallasburg one-r…

Source: White Christmas in Fallasburg pioneer village

Sea in Me Unravelled

Christmas time unravels epiphany

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI-This morning, I was fortunate enough to come across the “saidsimply” blog about artistic ventures. And the labyrinth-like colorful painting inspired me to write this epiphany piece.


I looked at the photo of the “Sea in Me” painting and the following took place in my head:

This is how I feel about writing when I don’t write for a while; I am lost in a labyrinth of thoughts.

Yesterday, my friend Kitty from the Netherlands really encouraged me. We ran into each other  in the snack aisle at the Lowell Meijer store.
I needed to get some yellow lemonade, ribbons and nuts for undisclosed reasons.
We chatted about Christmas and getting old. We both agreed that Christmas is more about getting together with friends and family than about gifts.
“But, we can do that anytime right?” I asked for assurance all frazzled at this time of the year.
“Sure, that’s what it’s all about, we don’t need Christmas for that,” she laughed.
Kitty has re-posted the Christmas bucket list on Facebook with comment:

“My kind of Christmas.”

Here is the Christmas bucket list

1-Be present instead of buy presents
2-Wrap someone in a hug vs. wrap gifts
3-Send love vs. send gifts
4-Donate food vs. shop for food
5-Make memories vs. make cookies
6-Be the light vs. see the lights

“I am already tired of people asking if the shopping is done and if we are ready for Christmas. Flying the coop again,” Kitty commented.

Kitty told me she was leaving for the holidays for a cruise somewhere in the Caribbean. I was jealous.
“Keep writing, Emma,” she smiled and off she walked with her shopping cart that wasn’t fully loaded with goodies.
And I left the store with warmth in my heart, two yellow Fanta lemonades, hecho en Mexico, a yellow ribbon and some trail mix nuts.I was determined to keep on writing.
Thank you, Kitty and  the saidsimply blog for all of the above.

For the  simply said blog go to:

About the featured tiled photo mosaic:The big photo on the right accompanies post “Secrets, we all have them.”

Small photos on the left from top to bottom:

1-Me at Sea…at the Gulf of Mexico

2-“Glass Flowers” (c) Emma Palova, a manuscript with hand blown pink glass flower from the castel Karlstein in Czech Republic. This was a gift from my daughter Emma.

3-The Wedding Tree at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL.

Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Simple Thoughts About Life & Stuff

A new acrylic on paper.  It has literally been months since I’ve had the paints and brushes out and I must say it was glorious.  I could not resist the impulse to let my inner painter come out and play!


View original post