Christmas Eve on Ninth Street

Christmas Eve 1996: Pirohi is served

Christmas Eve dinner at my grandma’s house in Charleroi, Pa. always focused on pirohi. You name it, it was on the dining room table: potato, cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage and lekvar. Christmas is a time for family gatherings and the annual dinner always brought together my mom’s side of the family.

Along with my parents, brother and sister, also present were my Uncle Bob, Aunt Anita, Uncle Ron, Aunt Louise and six cousins. My other grandparents lived in Monessen, Pa., so Christmas was spent journeying back and forth actross the Charleroi-Monessen Bridge over the Monongehela River during my break from school.

I have such vivid recollections of Christmas in Charleroi. I remember the big Christmas tree next to the even bigger television set in the living room. Any last-minute Christmas gifts were bought at Fisher’s Big Wheel in the Chamber Plaza shopping center. Uncle Ron and his family were (and still are) big Penn State University football fans, so they sometimes coordinated their outfits, wearing matching Nittany Lion blue and white sweatshirts on Christmas Eve.

My parents, uncle and aunt all graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, so the scene always resulted in a bit of playful friction. Mind you, this was back in the 1970s and 1980s, when both teams claimed national championships: Pitt in 1976 and Penn State in 1982 and 1986.

But all rivalries were forgotten when we sat down to eat. Do you have memories of Christmas Eve dinners? I’d love to hear about them! If you send recollections andphotos, I will publish them in a future issue.

I’ll end 2018 as I did in 2017, with the final few lines of my favorite Christmas poem, “E.B. White’s Christmas,” published in The New Yorker on Dec. 20, 1952 and written by the author of beloved children’s books “Stuart Little” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

Again, it’s worth Google-ing to read the entire poem.

“And last, we greet all skaters on small natural ponds at the edge of woods toward the end of afternoon. Merry Christmas, skaters! Ring, steel! Grow red, sky! Die down, wind! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good morrow!”

Have a blessed Christmas and a healthy 2019!