Enova Sabbatical Series: Joanna Burgraf

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By: Joanna Burgraf, Production Team Lead

Continuing our Enova Sabbatical series this week is Joanna Burgraf, Production Team Lead. Joanna has been with Enova for over eight years and spent her well-deserved sabbatical with her family for a very special occasion.

What do you do when your basket-weaving you tube sensation, decorated World War II veteran of a Grandfather turns 90 and you have a four week sabbatical? Fly to Poland for a party with 40 of your closest relatives, of course.

The majority of my family lives in Poland, so when it came time to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th year, I convinced my mom to take a two week trip to her home country. The majority of her family live in northeastern Poland in a region called Mazury.

Growing up, I would visit my family overseas every other summer. As I got older and as our family grew, it became increasingly difficult to see everyone on these trips. While the majority of my family members live in Poland, a handful live in the U.S. and Germany. All but six of 42 were in attendance for this milestone occasion.

While we didn’t keep the fact that there would be a celebration from my grandfather, he had no idea what he was in store for. He was expecting a larger dinner, with maybe 10 people at my aunt’s house. Instead we started the day with a 5 p.m. mass dedicated to him at the local church. My aunt called in a special favor to have the organist come in on a Saturday. In a small rural village church (population: 510) that’s a big deal.

After the mass we chauffeured him to a lakeside resort where we rented the largest room in the area for a dinner party. All 36 of us sat at one long table. Throughout the night he could barely keep from tearing up. We had a five-course family style dinner and bottles of vodka on the table where we took turn taking shots with him. My cousin Ania, an artist, designed and produced a family currency called “Gajlewiak” and presented it to my grandfather as a gift. Everyone in attendance also received a coin as a memento of our time together. There was of course a huge cake. The celebrations continued with fireside singing, eating and drinking well into the night.

It’s a rare thing to celebrate a 90th birthday. I feel lucky to have had the time and the opportunity to take this trip for such a special occasion. Thank you Enova for such a fantastic perk!