Christmas on Crutches

At this time of year I find myself looking back with fondness to Christmases of old. Some of the most memorable for me occurred during those transitional college years when Christmas became a true homecoming. On break between semesters, I would travel back to my parents’ home to be reunited with family and friends from whom I had been separated for the first time in my life.

One of the traditions (short-lived) became an annual football game played with my old high school chums who, like me, had returned to our hometown for the holidays. We would gather at a field and, as this was a time where our development was more brawn than brain, we would opt to play a no-pads, full-on tackle game. And this we did faithfully for four years, in snow, rain, mud, or bitter cold… until life sent us in so many different directions we began losing track of each other. Or perhaps it was just that our brains finally caught up to our brawn. But for a time, it was a holiday tradition we looked to with great anticipation.

All the regular rules of the game were in place with one exception. We didn’t bother with a clock. We played until it got dark or until someone got hurt.. and as I don’t remember ever playing till dark, someone always got hurt. And that someone was usually me.

Which is why, for the next four years, you would find me on Christmas Day sprawled out on a day bed in our family “rec” room, crutches at the ready, unsuccessfully trying to fight through the brain fog brought on by whatever pain pill was being prescribed in the 70s. Ah, those were the days.

Merry Christmas all and Happy Memories!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. And please take a look at our TEDxEustis talk and let us know what you think.



Back when my wife and I were raising children, we had the benefit of having her mom and dad living in the same city as us. Every day after school and every Sunday afternoon our sons could be found at their NanNan and Grandpa’s house. As a result, our boys developed a close and loving bond with their grandparents.

We certainly desired to have a similar relationship with our grandchildren but, like so many other families in today’s world, we were separated from them geographically. We did not have the opportunity of constant or regular contact. So we decided to invent a new family tradition. We asked permission of our kids to be allowed to take their children, one at a time, on a cultural adventure. When a grandchild of ours turns twelve but before they become thirteen, we promised that we would take them on a trip outside of the United States and introduce them to another country and culture of their choosing… a special Papa and Nana trip.

Our eldest grandchild, Morgan, opted for Italy. We spent a glorious fall with her, walking throughout Rome, enjoying paninis and gelato amidst one of the most amazing cities in the world. It was an experience shared just between us and one that we will always treasure.

And now the time has come for her sister, Elle, to have her special trip. She, perhaps influenced by the Harry Potter books she’s been reading, decided that she’d like to see what London is like. So we’re closing our studio for the next ten days while we jaunt off to jolly old England with a side trip to wee bonnie Scotland.

So hold onto your memories until we return. We’ll be back to help you preserve them on August 15th. We’re sure to have some new memories to share with you when we do.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotape, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Eat in the New Year


I don’t know about everyone else’s New Year’s Day menu, but if you were to dine with our Southern household, I know exactly what you’d be having for dinner tonight. It was the same every year.

Ham Steak, Hoppin John (a black-eyed pea concoction), yellow rice, corn bread, and an orange jello salad. We were told that such fare was a family tradition that brought health, wealth, and good fortune to those who partook of the meal.

Ours was not the only tradition that was played out at the dining room table around the world. There seem to be as many New Years Day food staples as there are cultures:

SPAIN:   If you celebrate the New Year in Spain, you’ll be wanting to bring twelve grapes with you. Their custom is to pop a grape with each chime as the clock strikes midnight.

NETHERLANDS: The Dutch will be looking for a local food cart for their annual portion of oliebollen (fried oil balls). These doughnut-like dumplings contain currants or raisins and are sprinkled with powdered sugar.

JAPAN:  As far back as the 1600s, Japanese families are accustomed to eating soba noodles at midnight to symbolize their desire for longevity and prosperity.

ITALY:  Italians end the year by celebrating La Festa di San Silvestro and partaking of the traditional sausage and lentil stew known as cotechino con lenticchie. The lentils are said to represent money and good fortune.

DENMARK/NORWAY:  You’ll see towers of cake in these nations as the residents celebrate with their traditional Kransekage (wreath cake). Concentric rings of cake are layered one atop another, decorated and oftentimes have a bottle of wine situated in the center hole.

MEXICO: Tamales, a favorite food at any time of the year, becomes even more prominent at New Years. It is often served with menudo, a soup said to be able to cure hangovers.

AUSTRIA/GERMANY: There will be plenty of pigs on the table in a German/Austrian household. Suckling pig is sure to be on the menu as well as Marzipanschwein, little pigs made of marzipan.

POLAND/SCANDINAVIA: Pickled herring is the go-to meal for New Years in these countries – often served in a cream sauce or with onions. A special treat called Sledzie Marynowane is make by soaking salt herrings in water for a day and then layering them in a jar with onions, allspice, sugar and white vinegar.

VARIOUS COUNTRIES: A tradition that spans multiple cultures is the baking of a New Year’s cake. Within the cake is usually hidden a gold coin or figure and the person who finds it in his slice is said to be destined for a prosperous year.

Whatever your tradition, eat heartily and have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories – even those found around the dining room table. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit