A Polski Christmas: On the Verge – Susan Marie Shuman

Susan Marie Shuman – Family Traditions

Brave & Reckless

It was a time when Polak jokes ran rampant and I didn’t want to be one of them.

As a kid, I found my Polish heritage to be a source of embarrassment rather than pride. Our neighbors were the Butlers, the Johnsons, the Millers and the Jacksons. My surname stood apart in its wild morphing of two incompatible letters from opposite ends of the alphabet—a “C” and a “Z”—guaranteed to slide the Mayflower-arriver’s tongue into spasm. And, to put the final shred of cabbage in the pierogi, my defiant last name finished up with a vowel which, mysteriously, seemed only tolerable if you were Italian.

My playmates had stick-straight blonde hair while I sported a mop of unruly dark curls. Myron Floren’s In Heaven There is No Beer and Too Fat Polka blasted loud and proud from our house in the suburbs, when The Polish Cousins came in from the…

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