Christmas Away from Home

Nothing brings home the significance of Christmas traditions like spending a Christmas away from home.

Glühwein at christmas

Glühwein or hot spiced (mulled) red wine is a wonderful German tradition.

My first Christmas away from home was spent with a family in southern Germany. There were many parts of their family traditions that I enjoyed enough to adopt later. I loved their beautiful advent wreaths and calendars. However, I missed the big Christmas tree going up early in the season. Even the wonderful chocolate and cookies didn’t quite make up for that.

To be honest, I found their Christmas tree erecting tradition somewhat scandalous. One parent took the children out for a very long walk on Christmas Eve day. They came back to find a fully decorated tree brought to their home by no other than the Christ child. Continue reading

Somewhat Valuable Player Award

In 1979, I was admitted into the second class of women that lived on campus at the heretofore all-male Wofford College. The college was chartering a women’s basketball program and the coach wasn’t overly picky. She wasn’t desperate enough to take anyone with a pulse, but, as I had scored two baskets over three years of playing YMCA league, I made the cut. Continue reading

Tweets from Beyond

Tweets from Heaven As I gaze at the photo taken of my parents the week of their deaths, I imagine they’re in a Harry-Potter-esque animated photo. They’re happy and waving from the bow of the whale-watching ship. “The weather is beautiful! I saw a humpback before you! See ya soon!” Continue reading

Really Really Bad Salesman

Bad salesman in Garmisch

Image Credit Wikipedia Commons

When husband and I decided to buy a piece of furniture painted in the traditional Bavarian folk-art style, or biggest obstacle was a bad salesperson.

Living in southern Germany, my husband and I came to love the Bauernmalerei folk-art furniture style. We traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, situated at the foot of the Zugspitze Alp, where we hoped to select and order a hand-made Bavarian keepsake.

This was in the late 1980’s when a strong US-Dollar motivated hordes of American tourists to visit picturesque Germany. Beautiful Garmisch, with its painted buildings and cobblestones streets, was a popular destination.

We found a small store that had beautiful hand-painted armoires that we immediately fell in love with. Since the shop owner was studiously ignoring us, we sought him out and asked him, in our fluent German, what the price ranges.

“Teuer [Expensive],” he responded.

Matt and I looked at each other. Ok, so he didn’t particularly like Americans. He probably had tons come into his shop and leave again without purchasing anything. We got it. As ex-pats, we sometimes cringed at the behavior of busloads of US-tourists. Un-offended (or not very offended), we persevered.

“How expensive?” I asked.

“Sehr [Very].”

At this point, I was torn between wanting to giggle and wanting to stomp out. Luckily, Matt remained calm.

Bad salesman very Expensive Armoire “Could you be more exact?” he asked, pointing at an exemplar that we had particularly admired. “How much would one like this cost?”

“It depends.”

Yep. He hated American tourists, or possibly any tourist, or possibly anyone.

“Depends on what?” I asked testily, fully expecting him to tell me it depended on how much he hated the individual wanting a quote.

He grumpily pointed out features of carving and painting that influenced pricing. Finally, after pointing out the features we liked, we got a price out of the man.

Despite his misogynist temperament, we loved his work and decided to order an armoire from him. We still love it, twenty-plus years later. When visitors admire it, we enjoy telling them how it was “very expensive.”

© Laura Hedgecock 2013
Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, has tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.

What? Mom’s Family Never had a Turkey?

My Uncle says that my mom’s  family never had a turkey.

Doesn’t sound like devastating news, right? But to me, it is surprising.

Jack and Ellen

My mom and Uncle Jack playing.

One of the stories I’ve been told since I can remember was about my uncle and his “pet” turkey.  The story goes that a turkey imprinted on my uncle and followed him around everywhere until one day when the turkey didn’t make it all the way through the spring loaded screen door.

When he was here a week ago, I asked my uncle to fill in the turkey saga details. He claims that there was never even a turkey, much less a pet one. He doesn’t have any idea why my mother would pass on such a story. He did vaguely remember and goose and “neck snapping incident.” But the goose was no friend of his. It was begging for food as the screen door slammed shut.

He also remembered that my mother was afraid of the geese. According to my Uncle Joe, my mom bawled when the goose pecked her. In a show of four-or-five-year-old male machismo, Uncle Joe protected three-year-old mom from the assault of a goose by grabbing the goose by the neck when the goose tried to peck her.

According to my mom, my Uncle Joe cried and cried when the “turkey” died. I think I even remember some debate about whether they were going to eat him. (This was a poor family during the depression.)

So why does it matter? The stories have the same sub-text. Mom and her siblings grew up together on a farm, interacted with the animals, had adventures, and loved each other. When one of them cried, it was a noteworthy event.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Letter to a Mystery Man

Mystery Man Dear Sir:

You probably don’t remember our brief meeting that snowy night in February 1994. Dressed in overlapping hospital gowns, I was walking the back halls of Detroit’s Sinai hospital with my husband to “regulate” my labor. You were dressed in a black coat and brimmed hat, walking towards us with purpose, when the pain from a contraction took me to my knees. You stopped and waited until I could stand, made eye contact, and said, “I’ll pray the best for you.”

You said it with such authority. It wasn’t a platitude.

Often I think back on that chance meeting, wondering. Who were (are) you? A clergyman on a mission of mercy? Caregiver for a loved one?

I picture you in my thoughts—a tall statue of ebony skin and clothes. I wish I could tell you how comforting your words to a stranger were.

I wish I could tell you how often I pray the best for you.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

Want to write about your memories? Check out my memory-sharing website Treasure Chest of Memories.