Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with family and friends and stories. I asked my dad what sort of Dutch things his parents (my grandparents) did. He said, “They just went to a Dutch church and ate supenbrij.” I knew the Dutch church had one of its services in the Dutch language and that my grandmother often went to church service twice daily. I remembered I had found a recipe for supenbrai (“soop em bry”) online and told Dad I had thought about trying it out. “Don’t bother,” he scoffed, “It’s awful.” Being the curious type, I still might someday make this lumpy, congealed barley goo that seems related to oatmeal. Eating the food your grandparents ate is experiencing their heritage in a visceral way, right? I might be sorry.
My step-family came up with some funny stories. A cousin’s family decided to buy a real tree Friday night, a change from their usual artificial one. Stopping on the way home, they checked to make sure the tree was still up on the car top—it wasn’t! It was waiting for them in the dark several miles back on the side of the highway, in perfectly good shape. I told them about the time our real tree fell over onto our hardwood floor for no apparent reason, right in front of our eyes, shattered pieces of glass balls and broken ornament parts everywhere. The horrified look on our faces must have been priceless. A lesson in no use crying over spilled tree.
That night we heard about our step-niece’s family attending a 70th birthday party for a grandpa. Her little boy, the cutest two-year-old ever, suddenly did a projectile vomit – right onto the birthday grandpa. Because everyone needs a little barf on their birthday! What can you do but laugh. Reminds me of the time another young family member sneezed mightily onto the broccoli salad just as it started its passage along the table at a big family gathering. Germs, anyone?
So what do you do with your family stories? My friend Kim Wolterman and I will be at the Webster Groves Book Shop in St. Louis this Saturday, December 7, 2:00-4:00 p.m. to talk about that. December 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. Kim and I both have written and published lifestory books about our parents and WWII. Kim is author of From Buckeye to GI, about her father’s service in the China-India-Burma theatre, because not so much is heard about that. She also helps others discover the lifestories (histories) of their old houses with her Guess Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed(room) book for St. Louis detectives and her e-book, Keys to Unlocking House History for anyone in the United States. I am interesting in seeing her new Shutterfly book about her recent family history hunting trip overseas. Of course, I have Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, my mother’s story of surviving the Depression and WWII in Japan—because not so much is heard about that either. I will also bring along a few shorter and family-only lifestory projects I did for others. I’ll be creating a handout about ways to capture stories and will post it on this website under the Resources tab.
Hear any good stories over the holiday?