In honor of our German ancestry, this year our Laemmlen family celebrated Christmas with a delicious German meal. Everyone contributed. We had Schnitzel and Brats, Spätzle, salads and warm homemade pretzels.
I brought a loaf of Grandma Elsa’s persimmon pudding (the bread loaf) and Riana brought an assortment of German cookies.
After dinner the grandkids each opened a book gift from the grandmas. Then before our adult gift exchange, Janelle asked me to prepare to take a few minutes to talk about our Laemmlen grandparents, Rudolf and Elsa Laemmlen. She said, “We didn’t know them, and we want to learn more about their lives.”
It’s funny how you assume that everyone knew Grandma and Grandpa, but in reality, only Paul & Leslie and I knew both Rudolf and Elsa. I described them and showed several pictures in a Power Point presentation, showing a quick overview of their lives and how they came to America.
As I talked about Grandma, I read this description from I letter I once wrote years ago describing her:
I spent time with Grandma Elsa almost every day all of my growing up years. She was my closest neighbor and friend. And she was the first I visited every time I came home all the years after I graduated. I loved being with her. She was simple and kind and loved to hear about everything going on in my life. When I was younger we baked together on Saturdays, napped together in the afternoons (I was always amazed at how loud she would snore–I’d giggle behind her back), we sewed together, she taught me to embroider, knit, crochet, she made my doll clothes, we stemmed raisins together, we shelled nuts together, we went on walks together, and we often just sat together and she told me stories about my uncles as little boys. My favorites were the bear stories. I knew every button in her button box, every game upstairs on the shelves. I knew every quilt she worked on and played in her fabric scraps. I knew where the Chicklets and chocolate bars were hidden. I even knew every corner of the scary cellar. In later years, when I’d come she’d sit in her rocking chair (which was the one thing on my list of keepsakes from Grandma when she died) and I’d sit in the warmth of that front room just enjoying being with her.
As I got older and came to visit whenever I was back in town, we’d catch up on all the things going on in my life. And every single time, when it was time for me to go home, she’d walk to the end of the driveway with me and stand and watch me walk home–waving every time I turned to see if she was still there. As she got older, I started to worry that each visit might be my last. I remember time after time walking home in tears thinking about that. We never spoke of it, but I think she thought about that too. I didn’t ever want to turn and find her not there. She was a very dear friend to me. I’m so glad I got to live next door and spend so much time with her. I wish all of the cousins could have known her the way I did. I keep her picture here by my computer, and see her smiling at me every day. I really love her. She was a perfect grandma for me. I really look forward to seeing her again one day.
Then I talked about Grandpa, describing what he looked like and showed pictures of their young family of handsome boys, and some of their older years. I told them about Grandpa in WWI and showed the 3+ minute video BYU did with the Men’s Choir about the Christmas Eve Truce and when the soldiers stopped fighting and they all sang “Silent Night” and greeted each other on CMS Eve in 1914. Grandpa was 15 that year. He was 18 when he was enlisted.
We love our Laemmlen heritage and tonight we felt grateful for the blessings of family and the blessing of being here together, remembering those who came before.