50 Things I Miss About Poland

A Polish Kiosk

My last trip to Poland was slightly more than one year ago, and sometimes I find myself reminiscing and missing my time there. Today, as I walked into a large Polish store in the Chicagoland area, I was struck with “the feels” for Poland. It was a full force collision with the nostalgia train, or, shall I say, the nostalgia pociąg.

In any event, I thought I would share short phrases of things I think about when I miss Poland.  I hope that some of you identify with a few of these thoughts as well. Although many are very specific to me, others are more universal. Even if you’ve never visited Poland, perhaps they  will trigger memories of your busha growing up or of those delicious pierogi your mom used to make.

Here are 50 things I miss about Poland (no particular order)

…my grandma looking out the second story window as I play in the backyard.

…Polish Nesquick cereal in the yellow bag

…the small kiosks on the street corners

…walking, instead of driving, to the town center

…encountering random stray animals

…Polish MTV

…a kotlet dinner

…having a different soup for “pierwsze danie” every day

…grandma listening to Msza Święta on the radio

20150901_143144…medieval churches and cathedrals

…picking cherries in my grandma’s yard

…picking raspberries in my grandma’s yard

…picking red currant berries in my grandma’s yard

…picking gooseberries in my grandma’s yard

…picking plums in my grandma’s yard

…shelling peas with my grandma

…walking in to visit neighbors or relatives at a moment’s notice

…neighbors or relatives visiting me at a moment’s notice

…taking the bus to town

…grandma bringing me a large, delicious loaf of bread, freshly baked, before a long trip

…helping my grandma walk to the kiosk down the street


…deciding whether to watch TVP 1, TVP 2 or Polsat

…feeding chickens on my relatives’ farm20150903_170803

…having a goat try to eat my clothes

…walking all day

…riding in my uncle’s Fiat

…homemade pierogi

…buying fresh vegetables from an old lady on open market day, aka “na targu”

…Kinder eggs with the surprise toys inside

…watching Dobranocka before bedtime

…walking up the stairs of an old kamienica (tenement)

…being struck by how beautiful Polish girls are

…listening to that Polish narrator that seems to dub every foreign film

…homemade naleszniki

20150907_170915…watching the rural countryside while taking a train

…seeing rolled hay on farmland

…lying in a hammock near my grandma’s garden

…that feeling  after exchanging dollars for złoty at the Kantor

…playing with the latest kitten at my grandma’s house

…buying a Prince Polo

…reading Kaczor Donald magazine

…hearing the legends surrounding a local castle

…freshly-cooked kielbasa

…watching the old Godzilla movies, dubbed in Polish, with my grandma at night

…getting up early because I couldn’t sleep but not being able to watch TV because it was still off the air

…giving and receiving gifts with friends and relatives

…Tymbark juice

…the reklama announcement before a set of television commercials started

…that moment I step off the airplane onto Polish soil

How to Tell if your Grandma is Polish

Grandmothers are awesome in general, and Polish grandmothers are among the most loving and unique on earth.

In case you’re not sure if you have a Polish grandmother, here are some tell-tale signs:

It’s 80 degrees outside, and she tells you to put on a jacket:

kid bundled upPolish grandmothers care for their grandchildren very much, and they don’t want them getting sick. This often results in an obsessive fear that it’s always “cold” outside. A light summer breeze will result in a chest cold, while a few drops of rain are sufficient to induce pneumonia. As a result, young Polish or Polish-American children are often overdressed for the weather. So the next time you see a child wearing a hood when everyone else has shorts on, there’s a decent chance he has a Polish grandmother.

You’re always skinny and need to eat more:

Are those ground pierogies?
Are those ground pierogi?

Even if you’re six years old and weigh 350 pounds, you’re still skin and bones for your Polish grandmother. The phrase “Jedz więcej” (eat more) is all too commonly heard by people with Polish grandmothers. She wants you to be healthy and strong, so as long as she’s watching, you’d better down those pierogi like it’s no one’s business.

You WILL be at church on Sunday:

A Polish grandmother cares for her grandchild’s eternal soul as much as she cares for his/her physical body. So you’d better be at church on Sunday, the earlier the better. If you’re not, hell awaits…when you see your Polish grandmother again.

She buys you clothes without any regard for style:

polish dress
Not a kid, but you get the point.

For Polish grandmothers, the main function of clothes is, well, to clothe. Style is irrelevent. Remember, Polish grandmothers grew up in communist Poland—where clothes wore you. The result of all this? Let’s just say a certain Polish guy remembers receiving very girlish-looking sweaters and long underwear as a little kid.

You mean the world to her:

They say that grandmothers love their grandchildren more than their children. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to Polish grandmothers. They’ll stick up for you no matter what. When you come home from the world’s stresses and problems, they’ll have a nice hot bowl of soup (or three) waiting, even before you manage to take your hood off.