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home : obituaries : ask the funeral director
June 17, 2019


12/12/2012 9:06:00 AM
Christmas Memories-Oyster Stew and the Little Red House

Pat Fahrenkrug
Community outreach director/funeral director


I have many fond memories of Christmas while growing up. As I look back, they aren't memories of presents I had gotten, (although I do remember a few "biggies" that I most likely didn't deserve) they are memories of just simply time spent together with family.



Christmas Eve's are the most memorable for me. We always went to 4:00 Mass before spending the rest of the evening split between both sides of grandparents. Usually our trip to church started out with everybody being mad at each other, Dad being mad because too much money was being spent, Mom upset because dad was mad, and us kids just teasing and fighting like kids do. By the time church was over, nobody was mad and it was all magically forgotten.
Our first stop was at Grandma and Grandpa Fahrenkrug's where Oyster Stew was the tradition, along with decorating the Christmas tree. It was a fun time, but more quiet and subdued. We always prayed the "Bless us oh Lord" prayer before eating the Oyster Stew and grandpa or grandma would always end with "And thank God we are all together"! The get together at their house usually ended with a Tom and Jerry or two for the adults. Then it was off to Grandma and Grandpa Van's who lived in The Little Red House, where we spent the remainder of the evening. My mom's side of the family is rather large, but somehow we were all able to pack into this little house even as the family continued to grow through the years.
We used to joke about how somebody driving by was sure to see the sides of the house moving in and out because there were so many people inside. When you saw an open seat somewhere, you sat down and that's where you stayed if you wanted to keep it. There was chaos and laughter and everybody was talking at once and it seemed nobody heard what anybody else was saying. Sometime throughout the evening the traditional ham and fruit salad were brought out. We usually arrived home around midnight, tired but "wired" from all the Christmas candy and cookies. As soon as we walked through the door we were abruptly sent to bed so Santa could come.
These memories grow fonder as I grow older. Part of the reason is because a lot of the people who created these memories for me, like my grandparents, have long since, died. However, for me, these memories are what keep them alive. My grandparents are still with us on Christmas Eve because we still have the tradition of eating Oyster Stew and drinking Tom and Jerry's.
We still enjoy the "Christmastime Only" cookies and candies that grandma made, like fadamin buckles, pfeffer nuts, chocolate covered peanuts and peanut butter balls. And we still eat the Christmas Eve ham and fruit salad. Christmas time can be a sad time for a lot of people because of loved ones who are no longer with us. But, truth be told, they are always with us in our memories of them. I write this as I hear my grandpa saying "And thank God we are all together." And for certain, by keeping these memories of our loved ones alive, we truly are..."all together."













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