Coughing into a Christmas in Pictures 2011

My brother John picked me up from the airport on Thursday. Bless his heart for waking at 5am to check my flight status.  This voluntary early morning pick up from a guy who once needed an air raid siren to wake up.  We had breakfast and then I got into my post-cold coughing jag.

 “You want me to stop at Rite-Aid, Typhoid Mary?” asked John.

“No,” I choked between coughing fits. “I’m fine.”

I coughed all the way into my parents’ house.  Greetings. Hugs. And within a few seconds, Ciocia Felicia thunked a small bottle of thick yellow liquid in front of me and handed me a tablespoon.

“You drink.”    

“What is it?”

“Spirytus, honey and lemon.”

Dr. Felicia says take a few tablespoons, if you start feeling woozy time to stop.

Home-made cough syrup.          

 It’s in a recycled glass bottle that once held something similar.  

Spriytus is 192 proof.  Who needs Nyquil with Red #5 when my 84 years old aunt mixes her own elixirs in the kitchen? I took 2 tablespoons and slept for 4 hours, a mix of red-eye exhaustion and the warm burn radiating in my throat. When I woke up, Felicia said in Polish, “I didn’t hear you cough once.”

“You want me to mail?”

“Um, Ciocia that’s like mailing gasoline.  I don’t think you can do that.”  

As I photographed the Spirytus bottle today at lunch my mom reminded me that you can dip a little on your finger and light it on fire. Hm.

Gasoline in a bottle. Clears sinuses and car pistons.

 Now the house is sizzling with oil and onions and fish. The overhead stove fan is causing extra deafness. The table set. We’re waiting for guests. Wesolych Swiat! Merry Christmas everyone! The rest in pictures. (cough. cough.)

192 Proof.

My brother waiting for Santa.

One of three fish on the table tonight.



Babki baking beautifully!

Bundt cake moving fast!


Ciocia putting curlers in her hair after the first wave of cooking

There was a lot of this in the fridge.

Mom and Dad

My brothers Adam and John.

My sister-in-law Kim and me


My niece and sister-in-law Martha


It's a Patriots family. My niece.

Before Family.


That's more like it.

13 comments on “Coughing into a Christmas in Pictures 2011

  1. April says:

    Wish we were there. Maybe next year!

  2. Young B. Kim says:

    Merry Christmas, Jannett!

    PS. Can you ask Ciocia Felicia if she has a Polish potion for lower back injuries :-)

    • Jannett Matusiak says:

      She said, “No potion. Exercising.” and is now proceeding to lay down on the floor and is showing me all her physcial therapy exercises for me to show you. :-) I think the cough medicine might work though- at 192 proof, I don’t think you’ll feel much after a shot or two. Feel better!

  3. Kelly Greenberg says:

    Love your blogs Janette!!! Keep em coming!!!!

  4. Adam Matusiak says:

    Ciocia had me try the elixir when I was sick last year. Worked like a charm! lol….

  5. Genoefa says:

    Wesołych Świąt!!! Miło widzieć Was wszystkich!

  6. Holly De Santis says:

    Your family hasn’t changed a bit other than the addition of wives and nieces. :) Merry Christmas!

  7. Tom Laferriere says:

    For your cough Spirytus Lemmon and Honey helps the cough what about the hangover?

    I hope these phrases are correct borrowed from Englist to Polish

    Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
    Szczesliwego Nowego Roku

    • Jannett Matusiak says:

      Good point, Tom! That made me laugh. I’ll have to ask Felicia if she has a remedy for that too.

      Yes, the translations you wrote were perfect! Thank you! I send the same wishes to your family!

  8. denise says:

    My grandparents used to argue which was a better remedy- Amaretto or black berry brandy, they usually gave me both and I always felt great afterwards. Love seeing all the homestead pictures- thanks for sharing so much our your Christmas holiday.

  9. Judith says:

    Oh, holy days… great Christmas with the Polish People…my people are also from Poland. The Yiddish speaking Poles (Jews), and I love you sharing your family’s traditions and remedies! My grandparents all died before I was born. boohoo

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