Tag Archives: Christmas

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

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Time to take a mental break

fb_img_1480336165473.jpgwp-1480421506571.jpegew-christmas-lowell

 

Time to relax, time to live

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – In this busy holiday season I needed author Becky Stuit’s prompt to relax today and over the weekend. I’ve been running myself crazy around in circles or spirals as you will.

“When are you going to get the house ready?” asked my husband Ludek on Tuesday as he was stepping over all sorts of stuff laid out on the floor. That is my typical style of designing, laying out things on the floor, so I can see what I have.

I finally wrapped up client E-newsletters yesterday, with more to go on Monday. I have to do two interviews via Skype, which I am really looking forward to. I want to stream the WordCamp live from Philadelphia, since I couldn’t go. I have two stories to write today.

This week has just taken its toll on me.

I’ve never really been able to take a mental break, as advised by both Becky and my husband Ludek.
On any given night, I wake up around 2 a.m. and immediately think about all my projects from writing to design, to shopping, to living, repainting, redecorating and back to writing. And I forget to sleep.

I almost freaked out when I saw the fires in Tennessee followed by the tornadoes. My parents Ella & Vaclav were on their way to Florida passing by pretty close to all the nature’s fury.

Reading Stuit’s post, I realized I need to live more, believe more and enjoy life more. I am going to enjoy my granddaughter Josephine Marie Palova this weekend as much as I can. First early in the morning I will run to the Rogue River Arts Show at the Lowell High School, so I can get a photo of artist/hunter Linda Kropf Phillips (I am writing a story about her).

Then we will speed to the Horrock’s Christmas farm in Ionia with Josephine, take a horse-drawn wagon ride into the fields, cut a tree, have a hot dog inside, roast some marshmallows , decorate the tree and try to catch up with Santa on the Showboat in Lowell.

Relax, girl. It’s all in good time.

20150224_124921.jpg

And all along, I am trying to live up to the high demands of my surroundings. These include sometimes counselling, as if I know anything about numerology or reading people’s future.

However, my great colleague and friend Annie Conboy of UK ( I am writing a story about her blogging for the past 382 days) says you can do anything through your intuition.
“Just listen to your Guides.”
Well my “Guides” yesterday told me that someone out there needs my help.
I kind of know who it is. I pulled her out of obscurity from the past last spring using a non-conform technique.
“Please tell me something positive,” she begged this week.
“I always tell you positive things, but you never listen,” I said.
Down the road, when the time is right, I will write about this woman. That is once I can sort everything out and getting a mental break.

Guides, can I do all that?

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

Becky Due - Author

Today’s Challenge: Find some time to relax, maybe take a mental vacation.

Have a great weekend!

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Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving & Christmas traditions inspire creative work

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – From our family to yours, I would like to wish everyone a great Thanksgiving. Like many, I consider Thanksgiving a kick-off to the holiday season filled with joy and traditions.

Being the little kid that I am, I love to discover new things and start new traditions.

Last night, I watched the 90th Anniversary special of the Thanksgiving Macy’s Parade in NYC.

In awe, I watched the balloons flying seven stories high, and I wished I could be in one of the apartments watching the parade at the same level as the balloons fly by you.

“What is your favorite character?” was the question at large during the TV anniversary special.

Living here in the 70s, I loved the Peanuts, and pretty much I didn’t know anything else.

“Of course it’s Lucy,” I laughed.

“Mine is Popeye,” said Ludek.

Since, I am not from this country, I have only heard about the famous parade in NYC. I don’t know what I’ve been doing up until now, but I definitely haven’t been watching TV on any given Thanksgiving morning.

Like most women, I must have been cooking and getting the house ready for the guests.

But, last night’s anniversary special about the Macy’s Parade totally changed my perspective on Thanksgiving.

I got up early this morning to get a head start in the kitchen, so I could be ready by 9 a.m. to watch the parade and start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

“How come the communist parades in Czechoslovakia didn’t have these cool balloon characters or the floats?” I asked my husband Ludek.

“They did,” he laughed, “Don’t you remember the allegoric vehicles?”

“Is that what they called the floats?” I smiled. “What did they look like?”

“I don’t remember,” Ludek said.

That’s the problem with time as it passes by like a parade, you don’t remember all of them. But, some stick in your mind.

I am a natural lover of all parades. They inspire my creative work. A hometown parade in Lowell, MI in October of 2006 with a clown theme prompted me to write the short story, “Riddleyville Clowns” © copyright Emma Palova.

Three years later based on the short story, I penned the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” © copyright Emma Palova.

Along with the short story “Tonight on Main” © Emma Palova, these two original works have base in small town America.

“Mom, that’s a great story,” said my daughter Doc Emma.

“Really?” I paused in disbelief.

I have learned to love dearly this piece of Americana; that is the traditional parades.

And I rejoiced, as I watched the 90th anniversary Macy’s Parade special when I found out that the Rockford Marching Band will be in the 2017 Macy’s parade.

I live 10 miles southeast of yuppie Rockford.

The two towns, rural Lowell & suburban Rockford, have engaged in an unfair competition in everything ranging from sports, bands to MEAP scores and more. Lowell steadily wins the sports competition not just with Rockford, but in the entire West Michigan region, under the tutelage of coach Noel Dean.

I suppose one day, coach Dean will be in one of the allegoric vehicles or honored as an oversized balloon floating high above the crowd.

Lowell will hold its night Christmas parade next Saturday on Dec. 3rd. Even though it’s a lot of vehicles sounding off sirens on Main, I still love the flavor of the parade with the marching bands and the Grinch, and finally Santa and his wife, Mrs. Santa.

“I would love to have an exuberant parade,” said Lowell Chamber director Liz Baker. “We have the village theme this year.”

My favorite is the Lowell Area Historical society float with horses and period costumes.

The noontime Christmas parade in 1999 set off my writing of the novel “Fire on Water” ©copyright Emma Palova.

I remember writing notes on a receipt from the Meijer store, while I waited for my son Jake who played the saxophone in the parade.

After all these years with all the parades, I still love clowns and the characters from Peanuts.

Have a great holiday season.

What is your favorite character?

About the featured photo: Prague Christmas markets on Wenceslas Square. Watch for stories about the Christmas markets in Europe that coincide with the Advent Sundays.

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

Happy holidays

Holiday gatherings

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Ah, the holidays at our household. Even though I was born in former Czechoslovakia, I have a feeling we must have had Italian ancestors. I should check our family tree that’s more like a shrub.

Whether celebrated in the old country or in the USA, holidays are rough. The preparations are endless and exuberant. By the time you are prepared, you are exhausted.

Prague Christmas markets
Prague Christmas markets

It’s kind of like with security. You can never have enough preparations because something always goes wrong. And the good old saying “the more the merrier” works its magic.

For any gathering my parents arrive with my brother. They get out of the car already fighting.

Mom brings food and we make food. The food is a combo of Czech and American dishes. We eat with a fork and a knife. Mom likes to be the center of attention at any gathering. The focus must be on her.

Beware if not or don’t dare to invite other guests because she wouldn’t be able to show off. I made that mistake last summer that I invited other people than family to a birthday party.

Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.
Traditional Czech Christmas pastries.

We eat and drink. We eat more and drink more. Mom stands up from the table and gives a speech. Usually, it’s something self-centered.

“I was the most beautiful one at the party,” she said, “and she talked too much. She wouldn’t allow me to say a word.”

That was directed at a guest whom she invited to her home.

“She told me her entire life story and I couldn’t speak,” mom said.

My brother is getting increasingly drunk sneaking in an extra drink downstairs when nobody is watching. Dad doesn’t say much. He likes it that way.

Mom either hits on my brother or on me. Most often on both of us. And then comes the pinnacle in front of all:

“I should not have had either one of you.”

And we fight and we fight more. We raise our voices and mom cries.

Depending on the occasion of the gathering my husband joins in. He laughs out loud. Our son is the peacemaker. He should have been a diplomat.

If it’s Christmas, our son plays Czech carols on the saxophone, I play the piano. My daughter-in-law is also low key. She’s not a Czech.

On top of all of this we’re supposed to have a super moon as if family and alcohol were not crazy enough.

We depart in peace, only to do it all over again.

Happy holidays and a great new year 2016 from Emma Blogs, LLC, Fallasburg Today and CJ Aunt Jarmilka’s Desserts.

 

Copyright © 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Holiday moods

Christmas in the Grand Rapids area

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Following is a picture essay of the holiday season in the Grand Rapids area, Michigan. From big events such as the annual Christmas party for the ABC Undercar employees in  Amway Grand Plaza counting 400 people to a small pioneer one-room school house in Fallasburg Historic Park. That all happened in one day on Dec. 13, 2014. I was overwhelmed by the disparity of both events. One was like a magical kingdom, the other inviting like a tiny cottage in the woods. Enjoy.

Holidays in Grand Rapids
The lobby of Amway Grand Plaza was decked out for Christmas.

The humble one-room school house, home to the Fallasburg Historical Society.

Fallassburg Park
The annual Christmas fundraiser for the Fallasburg Historical Society.

Watch for the big story ” 25 years in the USA” Copyright (c) 2014 Emma Blogs LLC, All rights reserved

Gold Sunday in Czech Republic

Gold Sunday ushers in Christmas

Note: This is the last part in the “Three Sundays of Christmas” series.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Gold Sunday is the  last Sunday before Christmas which this year falls on Dec. 21. By then all good housewives have their baking & cleaning done according to Czech traditions. Before I started writing and blogging,  I could make up to 10 different Christmas desserts including vanilla crescents, “nutty baskets,” chocolate “rohlicky” and” Ischel mini-cakes.”

As a student at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin, we would even get time off for baking.

“As long as you’re keeping the tradition going,” Russian language professor Chudarkova used to say.

Czech nutty baskets
Christmas nutty baskets

That reminds me of the opening day of the hunting season here in Michigan where some schools get the day off. I always baked long into the night, and I filled the pastries on Christmas Eve. Back in the old Czechoslovakia I had no helpers. Many years later in the USA my son Jake assisted me by rolling out the dough standing on a foot stool.

Gold Sunday is time to get your Christmas fish for the big evening feast known as “Bountiful Eve.” The town squares in Czech Republic are home to merchants with live carp. For years during Christmases of the past I went shopping for the best carp ever sporting a net bag, so the carp can breathe.

The Christmas fish in Czech Republic is carp
The Christmas fish in Czech Republic is carp

Large wooden vats carried carp from ponds in Southern Bohemia. The carp trade dates back to feudalism and to the royals who granted the rights to do this. I regret that I’ve never seen the carp ponds in Bohemia.

The live carp and then the butchering of it on the morning of Dec. 24 have been the subject of stories, legends, photographs and calendars much like the day and the evening itself.

Christmas at home
Lighting of the town Christmas trees in Czech Republic Photo by Jan Smejkal

I will remember one carp story forever. One family got so attached to their live carp, they could not bring themselves to butcher it. They took the live carp to a nearby brook and released it into the shallow water. The carp probably didn’t make it, but they felt better and from then on they purchased fish filets from a well-know store in hometown Zlin and that was Rybena.

I think my uncle John butchered ours. The family usually placed the carp in a tub. One year I put the tub outside on the apartment balcony. When I went to check on the fish next day, it almost froze. I had to smash the ice and resuscitate the fish.

So, the Christmas Eve menu in Czech Republic consists of breaded fried filet of carp, potato salad, mushroom or fish soup and the great cookies.

In later years, non-carp lovers substituted the carp for salmon filets. We stick to the tradition and I buy either cod or other white meat fish. I make tons of potato salad with our own pickles.

Stay tuned for the big story ” 25 years in the USA.”

Happy holidays.

Copyright © 2014 Emma Blogs LLC, All rights reserved

Silver Sunday traditions

Silver Sunday ushers in Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Silver Sunday is the second Sunday before Christmas that literally makes the Christmas holiday fever rise by several degrees even though it is usually cold outside at this time of the year. It is also the third Sunday of the advent in the catholic religious year.

Outdoor Christmas markets in most European cities on major squares, are in full swing by now, and they will be open until Dec. 23rd & some on Dec. 24th. The rush is on for everything from nuts and poppy seeds for baking purposes, wooden toys and other crafts, apples and dried fruits, ornaments and keepsakes.

Christmas markets in Czech Republic
Christmas markets in Czech Republic. Photo by Adela Kobylikova

It’s also time to get a Christmas tree. Although back in Czech Republic most families decorated their tree on Christmas Eve, here in US our family has adapted to the custom of putting up the tree at least two weeks before the magical day.   Christmas Eve is a magical day, but a lot has been lost in the translation of the feast of Adam&Eve that falls on Dec. 24th in the Czech name day calendar.

In Czech language, that magical day is called “Stedry Den” which translates exactly as Bountiful Day. Families open a bounty of presents in the evening. I will write more about the customs of that day next week as we draw closer to Christmas.

And even though, I miss deeply some of the customs in Czech Republic, I have replaced them with new ones here in USA.

We cut our Christmas tree early and decorate it before Christmas Eve. Last year we took Ella with us to carry on the new tradition.

Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery
Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery

I couldn’t remember where the tree farms in the area are, so I looked it up on Google Christmas farms in Ionia County and found Horrocks Nursery Farms just north of the city of Ionia.

This year we don’t have our tree yet and I haven’t baked yet either. But my daughter-in-law Maranda Palova made our traditional nutty baskets with filling. I plan on baking chocolate flutes and chocolate mini Ischel cakes. Some Czech and European recipes come with a history. This one comes from the spa town of Ischel in Austria. The story has it that the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef used to frequent the bakery that made them in Ischel.

As with many recipes there are many variations of the mini Ischel cakes. My grandma Anna used to love them, so I always made them for her. I like to keep that tradition going.

Czech nutty baskets
Christmas nutty baskets

Now is also time to send and get cards even in the era of the web. Over the 20+ years here on the American continent, I’ve received hundreds of them, but kept only a few.

One of the few precious ones, a definite keepsake, is a card from Brno with a nativity scene and a score to a Christmas carol. One of the most precious cards that I had sent out was made from a photo at the Meijer store in Cascade.

Although I can’t find it now, I remember precisely what was on it. We were picking blueberries as a family on a farm near Ludington in the 90-degree heat. We’re all holding blue pales and shielding our heads from the scorching sun with funny hats. My daughter Emma was wearing a t-shirt with a Polar bear on it.

“Happy holidays,” the card with mistletoe clip art and snowflakes said.

Speaking about passing on traits and such; both my daughter and I have the same sense for juxtaposition.

For more information on Horrocks Christmas Tree farm go to http://www.horrocksnursery.com

To be continued with Golden Sunday

Copyright © 2014 Emma Blogs LLC All rights reserved

Three Sundays of Christmas

Bronze Sunday

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Joyful season starts right now.
Joyful season starts now.

The third Sunday before Christmas in Czech Republic is bronze Sunday. On that day all stores open their doors to shoppers, and the Christmas markets begin on the major squares in towns. The town squares shine with decorated  Christmas trees to the nines.
The timing coincides with the four weeks of Advent. I’ve noticed the same trend here in the USA. Area communities  such as in Honey Creek, Cannonsburg decorate and light their Christmas trees  around the same time, so does  Lowell in Michigan prior to the annual Santa parade held this year on Dec. 6th.
Small stores like the nickel and dime store Springrove Variety in Lowell are open on Sundays starting  Dec.7th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Springrove Variety in Lowell will be open for the next two Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Springrove Variety in Lowell will be open for the next two Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Typically, this is the time when you get your mistletoe coated with white or gold for Christmas at the markets. The parasite plant that brings abundance and love is a must in European households.

Kissing under the mistletoe.
Kissing under the mistletoe.

To stay warm, the markets offer mulled wine with cinnamon sticks, grog or rum with tea, and hot beer. At this time of the year, I bought some of the most beautiful crochet linens.

But, probably the biggest of all Christmas traditions is the holiday baking that starts around this time.

Winter in Michigan
Frozen kingdom

The most famous pastries with almost a sacred quality are vanilla crescents and Linz sweets. Baking takes place at least two weeks ahead of time so they soften by Christmas.

Famous vanilla crescents.
Famous vanilla crescents.

The aroma from baking with vanilla and nuts fills the homes with that special holiday atmosphere. And as my facebook friend and real life cousin Marta Krajcova posted, and I quote:
“I love the smell of vanilla as it bakes in the crescents, it fills the house,” she wrote. “We’re almost done.”

I will feature the recipe on the new Travel & Food page  on http:// etravelandfood.wordpress.com

Follow me next week for Silver Sunday

Copyright © 2014 Emma Blogs LLC All rights reserved.

http://etravelandfood.wordpress.com

Christmases of the past

Christmas Eve traditions

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Journal

Christmas Eve in Czech Republic is a colorful tapestry woven with legends, stories, myths and superstitions that originate in folk beliefs long before television or the Internet.

Many people believe that magical things happen on that day. No one should be sad, aggressive or squabble on that day, because it would stay with them until next Christmas.

Coming from a Catholic family, we always fasted on that day. The tradition has it if you don’t eat anything until the festive dinner, you will see the “Golden Pig.”

“Emma, don’t eat anything or you won’t see the golden pig,” my grandfather chuckled behind my back.

Christmas Eve traditions KJ Erben's poem
Christmas Eve traditions KJ Erben’s poem

Then one Christmas Eve, as a kid, I caught him doing the pig with a flashlight. I remember the disappointment was almost the same, as when my friends in Sudan, Africa told me that Jesus is not the one who brings presents, but my parents do. I used to write letters to Jesus, and put them inside on the window sill. I was always so happy when they disappeared. Santa Claus does not exist in Czech traditions.

Some disappointments come early.

We always had real wax candles on the tree. One Christmas in Africa the tree caught on fire. I guess my dad extinguished it. The same happened in former Czechoslovakia at least three Christmases. Then, we finally switched to electric lights which are nearly not as romantic, but a lot safer.

People also visited on Christmas Eve to wish merry Christmas to taste desserts and do some shots. Usually people had their favorite cookie. One year all the chocolate beehives disappeared. A relative ate them all. The same thing happened last night, when my brother Vas ate all the vanilla crescents.

Letters to Santa at the Lowell Post Office
Letters to Santa at the Lowell Post Office

The beehives were a catchall dessert. They’re not baked because they’re made from already baked dough that just didn’t turn out well. You add rum to the dough, and put it in the form and it comes out like beehive or a tall hat. Then it’s filled.

There should be an even number of diners at the table or Mrs. Death will take the odd one within the next year. You can also fool Mrs. Death by setting at least one more plate if there is an odd number of people at the table. No one should leave the table during dinner or they will die.

Apples also come into play on that magical evening. You cut an apple in half and if it has the perfect star-shaped pit in the center, you will be healthy. If it’s rotted, the person will be sick.

A healthy apple brings a healthy year
A healthy apple brings a healthy year

You should place a scale from your festive carp and a coin under the plate for wealth. Those who are really motivated can put an entire wallet under it.

Also you’re supposed to throw behind you a shoe. If the front of the shoe faces the door, you will leave the household or get married. My mom always did this one wishing her shoe would turn out so she could leave former Czechoslovakia  be reunited with my dad in Hawkins, TX. She waited four Christmases before she  received her emigration visa.

Other tales call for sharing the leftovers from the Christmas Eve dinner with the nature, animals and birds. We open presents after dinner and go to the midnight mass.

One tradition that disappeared are the carolers and musicians playing under the balcony in hometown Zlin. But, once a year, I play the piano and my son plays the saxophone Czech carols.

Gold Sunday

Gold Sunday ushers in Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings Journal

Gold Sunday is the first or last Sunday before Christmas which this year falls on Dec. 22nd. By then all good housewives have their baking & cleaning done according to Czech traditions. Before I started writing and blogging,  I could make up to 10 different Christmas desserts including vanilla crescents, “nutty baskets” and chocolate “rohlicky.”

As a student at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin, we would even get time off for baking.

“As long as you’re keeping the tradition going,” Russian professor Chudarkova used to say.

That reminds me of the opening day of the hunting season here in Michigan where some schools get the day off. I always baked long into the night, and I filled the pastries on Christmas Eve. Back in the old Czechoslovakia I had no helpers. Many years later in the USA my son Jake assisted me by rolling out the dough from a stool.

Silver Sunday is time to get your Christmas fish for the big evening feast known as “Bountiful Eve.” The town squares in Czech Republic are home to merchants with live carp. For years during Christmases of the past I went shopping for the best carp ever sporting a net bag, so the carp can breathe.

The Christmas fish in Czech Republic is carp
The Christmas fish in Czech Republic is carp

Large wooden vats carried carp from ponds in Southern Bohemia. The carp trade dates back to feudalism and to the royals who granted the rights to do this. I regret that I’ve never seen the carp ponds in Bohemia.

The live carp and then the butchering of it on the morning of Dec. 24 have been the subject of stories, legends, photographs and calendars much like the day and the evening itself.

Christmas magic in Steamboat junction combines sound, light and motion
Christmas magic in Steamboat junction combines sound, light and motion

I will remember one carp story forever. One family got so attached to their live carp, they could not bring themselves to butcher it. They took the live carp to a nearby brook and released it into the shallow water. The carp probably didn’t make it, but they felt better and from then on they purchased fish filets from a well-know store in hometown Zlin and that was Rybena.

I think my uncle John butchered ours. The family usually placed the carp in a tub. One year I put the tub outside on the apartment balcony. When I went to check on the fish next day, it almost froze. I had to smash the ice and resuscitate the fish.

So, the Christmas Eve menu in Czech Republic consists of breaded fried filet of carp, potato salad, mushroom or fish soup and the great cookies.

In later years, non-carp lovers substituted the carp for salmon filets. We stick to the tradition and I buy either cod or other white meat fish. I make tons of potato salad with our own pickles.

Watch for more Christmas Eve traditions

Copyright © 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova, lead photo courtesy of the Internet