Wow, how things have changed today when it comes to family get togethers during the various holidays, especially at Christmastime. Our family is like a great deal of other families today. We have gotten ourselves scattered all over the country. As a result, it is getting more and more difficult to see each other.
When I was young, growing up in Illinois, our family, our grandparents, our Uncles and Aunts, nephews and nieces, and others, always got together at least on Thanksgiving and Christmas at a minimum to celebrate. And what a great time we would have when we did. One of my most remembered, and happy, memories was with my Grandfather playing penny-ante poker. That included all his grandchildren and he playing with their own pennies they brought with them to our get together. My grandfather would laugh so much as he took all our pennies away from us! We couldn’t wait for each year’s holiday to come so that we could try to get our pennies back from him. You know, this is one example of how important grandparents are. We loved him so much. I spent as much time with him as I could.
When I was real young, he would take me on his ice delivery route delivering the ice to all the farm houses in the area for their “ice boxes.” For you youngsters reading this, I am talking about the first refrigerators before the electric ones became common. He also took me on many of his nightly trips to the Chicago Stock Yards when he delivered hogs and cows, etc. I can still remember the smell of the stockyards when we go there. I didn’t care for the slaughtering of the animals that I got to see. I am not one for killing anything! If I had to do it, I wouldn’t be eating any meat, I guarantee you that!
But the thing that we all looked forward to was the great meals that my Grandmother and Mother used to fix. My Grandmother was German and she always fixed German Potato Dumplings which looked like dirty snowballs. They were fixed with duck and with the duck juice they were heavenly!
We would usually have about 20 people on these occasions. What fantastic memories we had of those days. Today, it is so much different, for a lot of families. My wife and kids, regardless where we lived, Chicago, Joliet, Kankakee, Park Forest, Illinois or in New Jersey near New York City, Wausau, Wisc., or near Ann Arbor, Michigan, we always returned home to my folks or my wife’s folk during these holidays but that all changed once our children got married and moved away from home. Our son, Mark, and his family now live in Scottsdale, AZ which is a couple thousand miles or so away. Our daughter, Sherry, and her family, live in Lansing, Michigan, a little over a thousand miles away. And here we are in Albany, Georgia. As you can see, that puts us all a long ways away from each other and that makes it quite difficult to get together like we would like to especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is especially true as my wife and I get older and really too old to be driving those very long distances and with the cost of flying getting much more expensive.
So things are very different these days. No more fantastic dinners together. My brother, Tom, and I are the only ones left that love those German Potato Dumplings, anyway. No more penny ante poker. Today, it would have to be Dollar poker, I suppose, since money isn’t worth much anymore! And most importantly, my fantastic Grandfather and Grandmother are no longer with us. We are the Grandparents now but we will never compare to those Grandparents we had back then.
Yes, things have changed a lot. The Good Ole Days are long gone and I miss them a lot. But, heck, today we have the computer and all the things we can do today that we couldn’t then so I shouldn’t complain because I like using the computer so much.
Merry Christmas, as we Christians still say, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.