Pierogi Oplatki Kapusniak Wigilia I had no idea what those things were until I married into a Polish family and celebrated my first Christmas Eve with them. "We're having soup? And the broth consists of cream of mushroom soup, sauerkraut juice and vinegar?" I didn't know you could buy cans of just sauerkraut juice. Years later that juice is tough to find, which is disappointing because I love the soup! Oftentimes marriage offers us the opportunity to experience new cultures with their different foods and traditions. We are of course richer for them.
I thought of that yesterday while listening to fellow writers during a public reading. Eight of us read and the sampling of work included snippets from two memoirs - one about a woman growing up in Tahiti, a children's story, a suspenseful short story, two humorous pieces and excerpts from two novels - one a Sci-Fantasy.
Before I'd 'married into' my two writing groups, I would have never picked up a book of Sci-Fantasy. Now I can't wait to hear what my friend Ed's characters are doing, and I have a greater appreciation for the genre. Listening to Pat read the stories about her mom, the South Sea Islands are no longer flat dots on a map but vibrant colors, sweet tastes and sensual movements and language. It's good to be regularly fed with something other than what we typically write or read.
A friend of mine reads only romance novels. There's nothing wrong with them, and with its many sub-genres she has plenty to read. But for me, reading in just one area would be like eating nothing but potatoes. I like them and can fix them a slew of ways . . . but they're still potatoes.
The 'family' of my reading group also tempts my taste buds. Because we actually read and discuss books, (I know of book clubs that don't do either!), I'm led to read books outside my normal reach on the bookshelves. I've grown as a writer, a reader and a person because of it.
As we look toward the New Year, I issue two challenges:
1. If you don't share your writing or reading with anyone, either a group or even just a friend or two, give that a shot this year. See what new worlds open to you.
2. Grab a book either in a genre or on a topic you've never thought to explore. You might be surprised where it leads you.
Oh, those words at the beginning? The sauerkraut soup is kapusniak. Oplatki is a wafer we share when exchanging blessings for the coming year. The wigilia is the meal and traditions of Christmas Eve. And pierogi are pockets of dough . . . stuffed with potatoes.