Family Gatherings are the Time to Reminisce

Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting most of the day with family.  The drive down to my mom’s house was a pleasant one as my husband, Casey, and I talked while I worked on a crochet project (he drove).  This year we had decided to split our time with our respective families.  I was a little sad that we didn’t get to spend it together, but we both felt strongly that we needed to be with our families.  So once he dropped me off at my mom’s house he went on to his parents’ about an hour away.

Dean Duplain and Aunt Kait Campbell
Dean Duplain and Aunt Kait Campbell

At mom’s house I was able to help mix up our carrot pudding (it’s like a baked souffle with shredded carrot) and also corn pudding that has a similar consistency.  Once we got those in the oven the kitchen was smelling delicious.  My nephew Dean was a bit under the weather with earaches and a cold.  His head was all congested, but he was still in a pretty decent mood.  I enjoyed watching him play on the new baby blanket that my mom had made for him.  It has different kinds of ribbons sewed around the edges in loops that he can touch and explore.  Dean is crawling now so it was fun seeing what sparked his interest and he would crawl enthusiastically over.

My youngest sister, Kait, and her husband, Gabe, arrived a little while after I did and it was good to see them.  I don’t see her as often as she is working on her PhD at Miami University and lives in Oxford, Ohio.  I get to see my middle sister, Ariel, often since she lives in Columbus and we try to get together once a week.  When we all lived in the Columbus area I was spoiled to get to see them both on a regular basis.  Now it’s rare that all three of us are together for any amount of time.  So this was a real treat.

Jen Alford with stepdad, Kevin Uppstrom and mom, Jana Morse
Jen Alford with stepdad, Kevin Uppstrom and mom, Jana Morse

We were all able to sit around and chat about what was going on with us and alternately helping mom with cooking and setting things up.  Kait and I were both crocheting and we talked about what we were working on.  Eventually it was time for family photos so I changed into a pretty green lace dress that I had picked up in October.  After various combinations of people sitting together we relaxed again and I watched as they played a game together.  I don’t really like most games so I tend to watch rather than participate.

When my stepdad’s parents arrived I made an effort to get them to share stories from their past.  Thanks to my stepdad he got them talking about their early years of marriage.  I am working on a special crafty gift for them that needs a little more information about all the places they have lived.  I quickly turned on the recording feature on my phone so that I could get the stories and information for posterity.  My step-grandfather was a Colonel in the Air Force and so he moved around quite a bit.  He had met my grandma in Wilmington, Delaware while she was in nursing school.  Soon they married and she moved with him all around the US and even a time in Thailand.

Celestia Ludtke and Richard Uppstrom with their great grandson, Dean Duplain
Celestia Ludtke and Richard Uppstrom with their great-grandson, Dean Duplain

Later I was able to get her to talk about her own grandmother who she lived with while she was in school.  Her grandmother, Bertha Lewis, was born in 1883 in Danzig, Germany. She met her future husband Richard William Ludtke and they eventually came to the Wilmington, Delaware area.  Bertha spoke English, but Richard did not.  Just before the first World War Bertha and her younger children went back to Germany for several months.  As the war began to break out Bertha took her children back to the US in order to be able to go back.  I need to listen to the recordings a few more times to get all the details down and do some research into when they traveled back and forth, but this makes some of the photos that I had scanned from her collection now make some more sense in how they fit together in the family story.

Dinner itself was a delicious time as always.  We enjoyed talking about the food and what we’ve all been up to.  Plus it was fun to see Dean’s reactions to pureed turkey (not really into it) and sweet potato.  He is getting his first teeth and so Ariel went and got an ice-cube and let him suck on it as she held it.  It was so cute to see him suck on it and he seemed to like it and got some relief.

Ariel feeding Dean
Ariel feeding Dean

After dinner we celebrated grandma’s 85th birthday.  She shared that she never thought she would live this long since her own mother died so young at 39 years.  Her special gift this year was a large framed print of a photograph taken by my stepdad.  In it grandma was posed with her two collies, Amy and Vicky.  Grandma has trained them both as therapy dogs and every week would take them to the local hospital for a visit to the different wards.

Finally, as we were having dessert Casey arrived. He had a nice time at his parents’ house and was able to visit with his grandmother as well.  We were both pretty tired by this point so once everyone was done eating we all gradually made our way to the cars to drive home.  Casey and I shared stories of the time we spent with our families and the food.  Next year I think we’ll try to spend the day together more, but all told we both enjoyed our selves. One of the funniest stories that Casey shared was a moment when his sister mistakenly thought that we were expecting a baby (we’re not). While it was quite a long day, it was an excellent time on all fronts and we made it home before midnight.

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