Polonia

When pressed for my ethnic background, I usually say something like, “Oh, I’m basically a 5′ 2″ embodiment of Milwaukee’s immigration history…” And if the person has a fondness for John Gurda, they laugh. If not, they walk away a little bit scared.

But my seriously lacking social skills aren’t really the point.

I’m Irish, German, and Polish. To be honest? I’m not very ethnic at all.

I maintain that any and all German genes were beaten into submission and wearing shamrock pins before the embryo that was my mom ever even attached to the uterine wall. (You’ve all met my grandmother, I presume?)

I love my father’s family and their heritage with all my heart; and while because I do Jewish studies and modern Church history I end up studying Poland a lot*, I mangle the word “oplatki” at Christmas and I pronounce my last name the nauseating American way.

(Once somebody pronounced it the right way. But that was an accident, and it hasn’t happened again. *sigh*)

And the Irish? Well, since I sided with the British my mother hasn’t really talked to me.

So ANYWAY. It’s not like my household is all decked out in red and white and we get the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper or something.

But every major holiday my dad cooks kielbasa. I don’t eat kielbasa. It, along with every other meat product in the sausage family, makes me want to throw up a little.

(This, incidentally, is ALSO my father’s fault as he helpfully explained the sausage-making process to me once when I was a little girl.)

But every holiday when I wake up and smell it cooking I feel like a kid and all holiday-ish and I want to embrace my heritage and start writing words with Ws instead of Vs. I even want to eat the kielbasa.

For about three seconds. Then other holiday memories that involve the phrase, “Well, there’s this thing called a casing…” come rushing back.

But for awhile there, it’s adorable.

*Which gets massively confusing. Because if you run into Poland in Jewish studies it’s a bad thing- “Seriously? do you have ANY righteous Gentiles? AT ALL?” Poland in Church history is generally happi…wait- what were we talking about? I was thinking about John Paul II and got choked up there for a minute.

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