No, we didn't travel to Bavaria, (at least not this year but maybe in a couple). We held our (maybe first annual) OKTOBERFEST this year at Lois' mom's home. Amid German beer, mostly authentic German food, German "Oom papa" music and combo OKTOBERFEST/Texas A&M-tailgate tent, we partied the night away with family and friends. I've previously written about how blessed we are to have an amazing group of friends and family and Saturday night's festivities certainly did not lessen that feeling! While we did not have an exceptionally large crowd, (actually one of the smallest parties, in number, that we've ever hosted) each person there was an especially important person in our world.
But I've gotten ahead of myself...
Saturday morning was perhaps the most awesome fall morning yet this year! The weather was "Chamber of Commerce" perfect. I met Chipper, Mallory and Carter downtown to walk through vendor booths and enjoy some small-town "trade day" activities. Carter obliged the adults by offering smiles and good humor until he saw the "Wiggle-Waggle Choo-Choo." At that point, he was a toddler on a mission! He was all about the train. Don't misunderstand, he was still very well behaved, however, he was very clear that his interest was on riding the train. So, after just a few stops to get a closer look at some of the offerings at the local artisan's booths, we were bound for the Choo-Choo. Mallory's mom, Lana, was with us as well. As us Grans watched Carter, we were both struck by the sheer joy on his face. Here was an example of what every child's life should be like...surrounded by loving, caring adults who would do anything in their power to make sure he is safe and happy.
My Great-grandparents and their brood.
My grandfather is third from the left in the back.
My mom's family is of German descent. My paternal grandfather's parents immigrated to the U.S. in about 1884 and settled between Shiner and Moulton, TX. They were farmers and raised a large family of children who, in turn, raised their children to put God first, family second-only-to-God, work hard, laugh much and enjoy life. I mention this because a few of mom's cousins and one of her sisters joined us for this inaugural OKTOBERFEST celebration...what a hoot these folks are! As you can tell by the picture to the right, my grandpa had several brothers and sisters. Most of them had children of their own. My grandpa, though he wasn't the eldest of his siblings, had the first (OK, my grandma actually "Had" them, but you know what I mean) "grandchildren." Then, since there is obviously a pretty big gap between some of the older of my grandpa's siblings and some of the younger ones, we are one of those families with second and third generation off-spring that are relatively close in age. (WHAT???). ANYWAY, some of mom's cousins are mostly within 10+ years of me in age so I have always felt closer to them than other "second" cousins might. Now their children are the same general ages as my own and some of us are experiencing the joys of toddler grandchildren together. After spending time with them last night and listening and sharing stories (until the wee hours this morning with Aunt Mary Louise...), I just kept thinking about how happy and how proud Great-Grandma Mary and Great Grandpa Joseph would have been.
I'm going to use my "writer's privilege" and include a "shout out" (when your writing, should the term be "type out"?----hmmmm), to two friends that joined us. As you know from previous posts, I have four biological sisters. Unfortunately, two of them were unable to make it down for the "bier und brats." I haven't told you about my friend Annette. Annette and I have known each other for 48 years and have been the best kind of friends for as long. We've survived Catholic school, high school, weddings, births, deaths of dads and many miles together. Although we live relatively close to each other, we rarely have a chance to see each other and visit. Her children are younger than mine and she is still getting them through high school and college and working full-time herself. I am so lucky and so thankful to have her in my life. She is my sister in every way that matters. It was so good to see her and her hubby, Robert Saturday night as well.
I have three brother-in-laws but no biological brothers. My dad enjoyed being the only male in a house with 6 women. He was as spoiled by the female attention as any man could possibly be. While I was never lonely as a child, (with four younger sisters, how could I have been?) I always wondered what it would have been like to have had an older brother. Well, when I was studying for my master's degree, I found one. Dick and I met at UTSA while we were working on our MAs in Ed. Leadership. After he got used to the back-row-sitting-loud-mouthed-Aggie-full-on-native-Texan (and damn proud of it, thank you very much!) we began teaming some "group" projects in a couple of classes. We brought another friend into our team and the three of us forged into a formidable group. Dick and I became great friends. He and his wife Laura's children are around the same age as mine and we love spending time with them. He really is my brother and no family get-together is complete unless he and Laura are included. (I am totally serious, when I lived in California, mom and dad were sure to include them in the annual July 4th parties whether I came home for them or not!)
There were other friends with us last night. Some were my mom's friends, others were my sister's, but all enriched our evening. The cold weather, other obligations, illness and other "life events" kept more friends and family from joining us but we are sure they'll be at the next Haime and Lois production. We feel truly blessed by the wonderful folks in our lives.