The Christmas tree that stands so beautiful and tall, adorned with ornaments as old as I am...belonged to my beautiful mom. I recently inherited her family room tree (artificial ) and ornaments. At first, it was difficult but as I continued to decorate for the holidays...I felt surrounded by her and all Christmas things she loved so much. I have to say, it feels good, and I think now the hard part will be having to take it all down.
I also inherited only part of her Thomas Kincade Christmas Village collection...there are many more pieces to the collection I hope to own someday. It's a beautiful village and each time I look at it...I smile and mom warms my heart and I know she is here with our family.
~ Happy Holidays and warm Christmas wishes to all of the genea~bloggers and your families ~ and to making many new memories in the New Year for generations to come . May all your genea~wishes come true ~ 2009 Christmas blog card ~
Today, my (maternal grandmother) Oma Lieselotte Kaiser-Saule Haf (1913 ~ 2010) would have been 97 years old. Oma was born in Zurich, Switzerland. What a wonderful day that was ~ Happy Birthday Oma, we love and miss you!
Oma grew up and resided in Augsburg, Germany all of her life - very close to the town hall centre shown on the Christmas card above and in this live web cam (Christmas Market is closed at the time of this posting) of the Rathaus Plaza and Christmas Market. Augsburg is nine hours ahead ~ when the market is open, it's absolutely beautiful to watch.
Photograph and cards owned and held by the author of this blog ~ 2009
I chose to use the "Grab Bag" day in the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories, for my handmade Ancestor tags, and share them with you here today. I have been working on them for several weeks now. Even though there are many more Ancestors to do, I am at a stopping point for this Christmas.
I have always had a little tree with a cute little burlap bottom for Christmas (purchased at my local craft store) on my kitchen counter for many years. I would adorn this little tree with Christmas cookie cutters and lights. Some of the Christmas shaped cookie cutters once belonged to mom and she had given them to me for the kids.
I loved it and it always made my kitchen bright and sweet...the kids would smile when they saw it! I plan on getting another little tree, continue my tradition and decorate the little tree with cookie cutters...giving me two sweet little trees in my kitchen.
Right after my maternal Uncle Adi passed away in 2004, I came up with the idea to put photos on tags of all my family members who have passed and would not be with us during Christmas. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do yet but I found paper photo tags at my local craft store and thought that they would work for the time being.
I didn't like the size or that "store bought look" but at least I could honor my loved ones on the tree right away. I had always wanted to make my own tags and last year I had shared the idea with a fellow blogger, Tammy, over at Rosie Cotton. Tammy liked the idea then, so this year she contacted me asking if I had done them and to check hers out. Tammy's came out beautiful and she motivated me to get started on mine.
It has been hard for me to get motivated this year because I now have to add my beautiful mom and Oma. I just couldn't get myself started but I knew I needed to. I got together with my neighbor Claire. . .she really helped me to push myself and get the creative juices flowing!
Between Claire and Tammy, I finally did get my tags done and I am very happy with them. So...thank you Tammy and Claire for supporting me in a project that I have wanted to do for over a year now!
I decided to place my Ancestor tree in my family tree corner which is very near my kitchen and can be seen from just about every angle. It's a perfect spot I must say.
The suggestion has been made to keep them up all year...I am tossing that idea around. I just need to come up with something to hold my tags and honor my Ancestors. Maybe a tree branch (finished and stained), I am not sure. If any of you come up with any ideas...let me know, I am open to suggestions! I think it's a great way to keep our loved ones who have passed, visually close to us all year.
Happy Holidays to all of my genea-friends and family!
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace. Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born. Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Stille Nacht (Silent Night) In Deutsch (German)
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
This has been and always will be my very favorite Christmas song! Stille Nacht (Silent Night) was also my mom's very favorite and she loved the Vienna Choir Boys...so it's perfect as to why I choose it for footnoteMaven's Tradition of Blog Caroling...thank you fM! And here's to you Mom...Schlaf Gut...Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!...I love you ~
Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December 2009 ~ Mom use to watch the Rathhaus video cam everyday, she grew up just down the street from this wonderful little center now alive with the Christmas market. Even though mom is not here with us...I continue to watch it each day too...after all, it's where I was born! My visit back there as described in this story...I remember the Rathhaus very well.
Aunt Gitta, Uncle Adi, my mom, Uncle Helmut, myself, Oma Lieselotte, Great Oma Margarete and Opa Adalbert Haf
Our arrival at the Munich Airport 1965
My wonderful and unforgettable memory of traveling was when mom and I flew back to Augsburg, Germany - a more than 2000 year old city. I was born in Augsburg and came to the U.S. when I was three. Mom was born and raised there. This was the first trip we made back together and to boot, we did it at Christmas time, the most beautiful time of the year to me.
Munich Airport ~ our airplane ~ Lufthansa
Our flight was about an eighteen hour flight from LAX to Munich. We flew via Lufthansa. I will never forget that flight. Because we were going to be in Germany for a little over three weeks, mom had all of my class work and homework pre-arranged to take with me. I remember doing my school work on that plane! I remember we would get these really neat smelling (lemon scent) wet wipes after eating a meal. To this day, I am reminded of that trip each time I encounter that familiar scent!
Once we landed in Munich, we would have about a one hour drive from Munich to Augsburg. Mom and I were quite tired but we didn't care, it was so exciting - I was in Germany! I remember how emotional it was to see my Opa, Oma and great Oma along with my two uncles and aunt Gitta at the airport. I hadn't seem my Opa since I had left and we were inseparable at one time. The photo above was taken upon that arrival.
The Autostrasse Sudtirol
I remember how beautiful the ride was to my Oma's home. Germany is gorgeous. It was snowing, cold and I didn't care. I was loving every minute of it! We went all over the place--to my great Oma Margarete's, to my uncles homes, shopping at the Rathhaus Plaza.
I have the web cam of the Rathhaus Plaza on each and everyday right now, the famous and traditional Christmas market is in full swing. It's a great feeling to see a place that you were born in all the way across the ocean on a web cam and still feel as if you are there! It's like I get to travel there everyday! They are nine hours ahead so the best time to watch is around eight or nine a.m. here in the states. Mom watches it everyday too and she knows each trolley and where it's headed! My Oma still lives just blocks from the plaza -she is ninety-six years old.
Opa, myself, Oma Lieselotte, and Mom, our trip to the Alps
Mom and I along with my Opa, Oma and my uncles traveled to the Alp's. The Alp's are breath taking. What an experience it was to visit such a beautiful and magical place. Most of all, I enjoyed Christmas with all of the family members and having a very traditional German Christmas. The family, the food, the joy of being together was unforgettable.
Mom tries to go back each year, my daughter went back with my mom when she was thirteen at Christmas time. She also experienced a memorable time that will last her a lifetime.
That really is the only "big" trip that my family has made during the holidays. We normally stay within our area. Mom lives about an hour and a half away. We will travel to her home and spend an evening with her to have our Christmas together. It may be a week or so before Christmas but with the kids grown and having their own families, it's much easier this way. Christmas Eve is spent in our home and Christmas Day the kids spend the day with their own families and in-laws.
Evidently I am having issues with Google Reader and Facebook!
If fellow bloggers are following me by way of Google Reader, could you please check to see if the last post to show up in your feeds was my 11-27 post of my granddaughters birthday.
If so, you may want to unsubscribe to Ginisology and then add me as a new subscription. When you unsubscribe you will be asked if you want to subscribe, when I clicked on that it did not work. When I did a copy and paste of my URL...www.ginisology.com...into the "add a subscription" box, it did work for me and continues to do so thankfully!
Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December 2009 ~ My love of cards increases each year! I have a wonderful collection of cards & post cards from Germany from family members.
This card is from my uncle Adi (1940 ~ 2004) and aunt Gitta 2002
This is the Rathaus Plaza, Augsburg, Germany. The clock tower, and the town city hall ~ the birth place of the author of this blog. Augsburg is over 2000 years old - each and everyday I watch a webcam of this plaza and right now the Christmas market is alive and bustling. It's like being right there! Keep in mind they are nine hours ahead, best time to view the webcam has been around nine a.m. California time. The Christmas lights, the street cars and the huge Christmas tree is a sight to behold. My Oma lives very close to this plaza. I remember walking around the shops on a trip back home. There are webcam's all over the world, it's amazing to watch them.
This card and tag, was made by my cousin Marion, we share the love of cardmaking!
I have had a passion for cards ever since I was a very little girl. I love making cards, sending them and receiving them. It's probably safe to say that I have an addiction to cards as much as I have to genealogy now! I have gone so far as keeping most cards that have been given to me. I have gotten better, and I pick and choose what I keep now. I have created a system so it is not out of control! I hunted high and low for a file box that was pleasing to look at, currently it's a Victorian floral. I use a file folder with a label for each person. Those pretty file folders are what holds each precious card I keep. I can go back, read and look at each card and letter anytime. It feels as if I am with that person for a little while.
Card on the right is from my Oma Lieselotte >>
Cards are very important to me. I can remember as far back as the third grade when I penned a thank you card to my best friend Sandy's mom for letting me spend the night. It is said that Nita, who is my second mom, still has that thank you note. I am going to ask her because I would love to see that one! I always gave a thank you card for the littlest things, or just a card to say hello ~ I am thinking of you ~ get well ~ any reason at all.
Christmas is the best time. Each day receiving a card is exciting and I look forward to opening it. I use a letter opener, never tearing the envelope! I write the date received on the card and when I responded. I know I am a bit weird, but I told you, I have a thing for cards.
I started out with store bought cards and added stickers, not the cutesy kind but Victorian die cut type of stickers. Then I went on to stamping and embossing, then I would do both! Now I try and make my own cards as time permits. I enjoy the "hands on" feel of the paper and personalizing the card to each person or event. I am slowly learning digi-scrapping as I would like to learn to do some cards on my computer.
Card on the right is from my uncle Adi and aunt Gitta and cousin Marion 1993 >>
This card is from my Oma (grandmother) 2005
I knew the ones I wanted to focus on were the ones from my Oma Lieselotte, my aunt Gitta, uncle Adi, and my cousin Marion ~~ all from Germany. As I was going thru the folders, I had many different emotions, I realized I hadn't visited these treasures in a long time, partly because my two twin uncles have passed, I miss them and life has just been busy. I am so glad I have kept all my cards.
This card was handmade for me by my aunt Gitta Sadly, I don't have the year this card was made.
It was very difficult just to pick a few. There are so many beautiful cards to share that I could be here for a long time!
Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December 2009 ~
Our tree always had traditional German ornaments, the most beautiful kind. Some glass, some handmade and very delicate. Mom still has many from close to fifty years ago. I have several heirloom ornaments that have a very special meaning to me so I have chosen a few to share with you. 2010 Update: Since this post last year, my Oma passed away the 5th of April 2010...these ornaments are truly a treasure more than ever.
My Oma, Lieselotte Haf, who is ninety-six years old, alive and well and living in Germany, made these walnut ornaments. Oma traveled every few years to California to visit us. During one of her visits she wanted to make some traditional walnut ornaments, the kind she made back home during tough times.
We bought a bag of walnuts, red yarn, and gold paint! Oma and I sat and carefully cracked open the walnuts so that we could glue the string inside, glue the walnut back together and paint them gold. That was 29 years ago this Christmas. I will never forget sharing this time with her, laughing as we would try not to crack the walnut shells into pieces! In mom's own words, German's like handmade ornaments, nature type ornaments. I have cherished the walnut ornaments Oma made me and proudly put them on my tree each Christmas.
My aunt Gitta in Germany is an expert at "Kloppeln". It's not embroidery, it's not needlepoint, or cross stitch - it's German Lace Making. Aunt Gitta has her own style, but I can tell you it's amazing. Aunt Gitta has spent many hours making these beautiful heirlooms and I cherish each and every one of them she has made for me.
She has made several items for me over the years, the Christmas tree ornament is truly beautiful along with this Kloppeln doily that I use under my mini memory tree in my kitchen. My mini memory tree has photos of loved ones and ancestors passed. I always have a mini tree in my kitchen, it use to have Christmas cookie cutters on it, now it holds photos as ornaments of those we want to remember and we miss so much.
Advent Calendar ~ Day 2 ~ Memories of our Holiday Foods~ Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December 2009 ~
Some of my favorite memories are of mom baking a ton of cookies. I remember that she would start baking early in November and then store them in tin containers until the Christmas holiday.
My favorite are mom's Spritz cookies - they are so good! In the last few years mom has added a few variations to the traditional spritz cookie. Knowing how much I love these cookies and chocolate, mom combined the two, dipping half of the spritz cookie in chocolate. Not only does it look good, but it is to die for!
Mom also made a moon shaped hazelnut cookie with powdered sugar on top, everyone in my family loves the hazelnut cookies. Another cookie that comes to mind are her buttery sugar cookies. All of these recipes and more are in German in her own handwriting. Slowly, mom is translating the recipes from German to English so that not only will I have them, but our holiday food traditions will continue to be handed down. Eventually I will be posting these wonderful recipes, they played such a large part of my childhood holidays, I want everyone to enjoy them as much as my family and I do.
Breads and Cakes~
Mom also made a German bread called "Stollen" which consists of: candied fruit, nuts, raisins and marzipan. Sorry, not one of my favorites but very traditional. Of course there is my most favorite, great Oma Margarete's 'German Marble Cake'.
Christmas Packages from Germany~
Once mom and I were here in the states, my oma would send us a Christmas package every year. It was always exciting because she would send foods that mom was used to and what I loved. Oma always sent the kidney shaped chocolate liquors which is a hard dark chocolate shell on the outside, filled with brandy on the inside, these are now available at stores like "Trader Joes". You had to pop the entire candy in your mouth or brandy would drip all over. As a child, I was only allowed one or two of these and I still remember how good they were.
I don't recall this dinner, however, mom said that the traditional holiday dinner that was cooked was a goose. What I recall of our holiday dinner was a roast with potato balls, smothered in her German gravy. For as far back as I can remember, mom has made the potato balls from scratch. Potato balls are very labor intensive so she now uses a German packaged potato ball mix named "Phanni". They are still very good, but not as good as mom's homemade. The store bought mix method is much easier on mom, this allows her to spend more time with family and I am all for that.
Even today mom still cooks this holiday dinner and bakes all of her wonderful cookies for all of us to enjoy, making our holidays memorable.
Please note: This post originally ran for the Advent Calendar of Memories in December of 2009 ~
Each and every Christmas tree I have ever had in my life has been decorated in true German tradition and always beautifully done by my mom!
Until mom and I came to the U.S. we never had our tree up until Christmas Eve because that was the German tradition, the tree is not put up until then. The "living room" in German homes is usually seperated by doors. On Christmas Eve, mom and oma would be up late decorating our live tree to have it ready for Christmas morning. Back then they even used real candles! Can you imagine doing that now. Once the tree was complete, the doors would be locked and not opened until Christmas morning! Sadly, I do not have any photos of those trees.
Once here in the U.S. mom became "Americanized". She would always put up a beautiful tall full live tree just after Thanksgiving and to this day this ritual continues. Mom is a master at decorating the Christmas tree as well as the entire house, her trees are amazing!
Until recently, we both have always had live 'Noble Fir' trees in our own homes. Now both mom and I have artificial trees, to see them you can not even tell they are fake, especially with mom's touch.
Mom's Artificial Tree and enchanting village2008
Mom has German ornaments that are close to 50 years old. Now they have been passed down to me and they are on my tree today. I have the last of the real lead tinsel from Germany. I don't use it on my tree because of our little grand kids, but the individual strands are very heavy! Each tree would have over 2000 lights with angel hair in-between the branches.
My tree this year 2009, not as pretty as mom's but still pretty - looks better in person than in this photo!
This year, right after Thanksgiving, mom and I put up my tree. I learn more and more from mom on how to decorate the tree, but I know my tree will never be as amazing as hers. Each year mom gives me more ornaments and my tree gets prettier and prettier! I will proudly be the 'keeper' of these heirloom ornaments. I do miss a real tree smell, but my artificial tree is just as beautiful and I can leave it up as long as I like. I don't have as many lights on my tree as mom has on hers, but that's ok, less to take down! We are all decorated here, ready for Christmas and enjoying the beauty of my Christmas tree.
I love going home to mom's for Christmas . She has two trees, one in the family room and one in the formal living room, I cannot wait to see them. Christmas is always special at mom's it makes me feel like a kid again and it's as if you are walking into a living room in Germany.
On the 21st day of March in 1933, my grandparents Adalbert Haf (1907 ~ 1968) and Liselotte Kaiser-Saule (1913 – 2010) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl --Elfriede Haf (1933 ~ 2010). That beautiful baby girl would one day become a most loving and gracious mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, that we could have ever been blessed with…that very special one in our family...my mom.
In daily life, everything mom did was to enrich our home and family life. She was good at so many things and always amazed me. Children usually don’t pay attention to the things that I did, but I always noticed the little things mom did to make my life safe, secure, and full of warmth and love. Mom made many sacrifices so that the quality of our life was that much better.
Mom was born and raised in Augsburg, Germany. Augsburg is a town rich in history that is over 2000 years old. As a young girl starting out, she worked at a dry cleaning service, and later she moved on to be a seamstress in a factory. She was an excellent seamstress and made most of our clothes for years.
Mom also sang in her Church choir and loved being a part of a high springboard diving swim team. She loved to travel and toured many countries throughout her life. I have postcards and photos that she collected and saved throughout her travels…that will be another post or even another blog down the road!
In 1957, my mother, stepfather and I, (he was in the Army) traveled on a military ship, the U.S.N.S General Maurice Rose, from Bremerhaven, Germany to the United States. I know it was difficult for mom to leave her home and start a new life. But the one thing about mom, she was adventurous, strong and very independent! She couldn’t wait to start that new life.
Modern day photo courtesy of Flickr
Once we settled, mom’s very first job was at the Bear Flag Restaurant located within the historic Cannery Row in Monterey CA. As I was searching for information about the infamous Bear Flag Restaurant, I came across this site “Cannery Row Photo Album” by Robert Lewis…I was blown away to find my most favorite photo of mom (I own the original and have posted it several times on my blog) at the lower left bottom of the page! This must be the gentlemen that took the original photo. There is very little information regarding the Bear Flag Restaurant that I have been able to find.
If you are a Steinbeck fan, Cannery Row was the setting for John Steinbeck’s novels “Cannery Row” (1945) and later, “Sweet Thursday” (1954) based on the life and times of Cannery Row. The Bear Flag Restaurant was based on an actual business…the Texas themed Lone Star Restaurant. Apparently, in the earlier days, the Bear Flag Restaurant was a “gentleman’s” place, owned and operated by Dora Flood (1923-1941)…way before mom’s time.
When her job ended at the Bear Flag Restaurant, mom started her career at ‘Montgomery Wards’ in Monterey, CA. As I posted in the Bound for Mom blogging mini series carnival, she started out as a sales girl in the Woman’s Fashion Dept. Later she went on to be the first woman to become a District Merchandise Manager in the history of ‘Montgomery Wards’. She continued to climb the ladder to a Corporate Regional Executive Manager’s position and was very successful up until her retirement 35 years later.
How my mom did it, I will never know, she was amazing. We didn’t live in the best of homes when we first arrived but mom always told me, “You make a house a home” and that is exactly what she did. Mom could make a shack look like a palace. She would make drapes for the windows, and along with table linens she had brought from Germany; she made our home warm and inviting. Not only was she good at decorating, she was good at cooking, and entertaining.
Mom was an excellent cook. She continued to make traditional German meals and deserts in our home. The two recipes that stand out the most for me is her Marble Pound Cake recipe that was originally made by my great-grandmother, Margarete Kaiser-Saule and handed down to mom, and her own German Spritz cookies. It always amazed me how mom would put on a holiday dinner and never stress about it. She just loved doing those things and did it with such great ease. She made it fun and enjoyable, you felt comfortable, welcomed and relaxed. As an adult, I always loved going home for Christmas and I would feel like a kid again, none of us wanted it to end.
Christmas stands out the most ~
Mom would start baking her Christmas cookies in early November. It’s hard to think that I won’t be having Thanksgiving or Christmas this year or tasting those cookies with mom but she did instill many traditions and memories in me. As hard as it is going to be, I want to keep them going in her honor. I would like to try my hand at her spritz cookies…and pass the tradition down to my grandchildren so they remember where the cookies originated and who always made them.
Mom made Christmas magical, amazing and true to the spirit of what Christmas is all about. One whole side of mom’s garage housed her Christmas decorations and it took her weeks to put it all up! When she was all done and you walked into her home…it was as if you stepped into an old fashion German home at Christmas time. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.
One of her favorites was her Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Village collection set. She started collecting this village quite a few years ago. Mom would painstakingly arrange the village in faux snow and bring it all to life. I could stand and stare at it for hours and I always wanted to just jump in and walk around!
Mom's Christmas tree was incredible. Up to last year, she would adorn the tree with old fashion tinsel from Germany that she saved along with ornaments as old as I am. I did just inherit some of those ornaments and part of the Christmas village recently after her passing away in July. I am going to try and set it up like mom did but it just won’t be the same. Mom would weave over 2500 lights on the Christmas tree! I don’t know how she did it but you never saw the wiring from the lights anywhere!
Mom was a true history buff, she knew everything about Augsburg and it’s history. She would tell me stories about this wonderful city and how you can still see parts of the moat that had surrounded the city during the medieval period.
Also, mom shared the time she was taken from her family for a year during the war and lived with a family on their farm…the beautiful Cathedrals and the countryside of the Alps, she loved her home and was very proud of it. She knew a lot about a lot of things and I loved sitting and chatting with her about Opera, classical music, Germany, and all the wisdom she had. She was a very wise and warm-hearted person. If need be, she would send me in the right direction after one of our talks!
Mom just made our world beautiful and unique. She made such a difference in so many lives that I know, not one single person she touched will ever forget her. That’s just the kind of person she was, my hero, mentor and best friend. She was an outstanding mother, wife, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend to so many. She taught us by example and left a legacy of love. It is with her that I learned the blessing of life. I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have been her daughter, in her life and to have been loved by her.
There will be an empty spot in our home and hearts this holiday season…it’s hard to want to celebrate but I want to do it for her and in her honor…I know she would want it that way.
Mom will be dearly missed and your daughter, the keeper of our memories, will always keep your memory alive...you were the one.