I’m second generation Polish on my mother’s side. When I was a kid, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather at my grandmother’s farmhouse on Christmas Eve (Wygilia). We would have a dinner of traditional Polish “soul food” consisting of the following dishes, served one after the other:
Kapusta on boiled potatoes
Pea soup on boiled potatoes
Borszcz on boiled potatoes
After dinner, my grandmother and her daughters (my mother and aunts) would sing a few Polish Christmas carols. Then it was time for the oplatke. An oplatek is a wafer that has been blessed by a priest. Everybody takes an oplatek, then goes around to everybody else and gives them good wishes for the coming year while breaking off bits of the other person’s oplatek, then eats the pieces and kisses/hugs/shakes hands. Finally, we would start in on the huge pile of presents that were from the uncles and aunts to the nieces and nephews.
Now THAT was Christmas and I miss it very much. (Although I don’t miss the side effects of eating all that Polish soul food!)