Jimmy and I had a wonderful Christmas with our two daughters Tammy and Amanda, our son in law Robert and our grandson Layton and granddaughter Lauren. We broke tradition this year and spent Christmas away from home for the first time. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in a log cabin perched on a hillside in Sevier County, Tennessee with a view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Christmas is a time for making memories and a time for remembering.
My immediate family unit when I was born was Mama and Daddy, a brother and a sister. My daddy was Ernest Oeser and my mama was Lola Mae Steele Oeser. They had been married 15 years when I was born and I had an older brother (Ernest) by 13 years and a sister (Ann) 8 years older. But there was so much more to our very large extended family. The family has grown over the years as my generation grew up and married and had children, who grew up and married and had children, who grew up and married and had children and we are very close to arriving at the next generation.
Ernest "Papa" Oeser, my paternal grandfather, was one of 10 children and I knew and visited with most of them at Papa's home as I was growing up. I remember Papa's sisters, my great aunts, Maude, Ada and Hattie and his brothers, my great uncles, Ed and Percy. The others died before I was born or when I was very young but I have the stories passed to me of Aunt Minnie, Uncle Louie, Uncle Charlie and Uncle Owen. Daddy had several cousins on the Oeser side but I don't remember most of them very well. I knew Uncle Charlie's daughter Evelyn Oeser Sharer and her brother Douglas "Red" Oeser. I also remember Aunt Ada's daughter, Pauline Mason and Uncle Percy's son Jimmy. My paternal grandmother, Ruth Davis Oeser, was the only child of her father but her mother had several children from a former marriage. I have sort of fuzzy memories of my great grandmother Jennie Davis but my parents and brother and sister told me many stories about her. My daddy had several first cousins on his mothers side and grew up with some of them. I don't think that I remember any of Mama Oeser's siblings but I heard enough about them that it seems I do. I did know her niece Gladys Hicks Vickers and her family and her nephew Paul Hicks well and some of Daddy's Vick cousins. My Daddy, like his, was also one of 10. Daddy was the oldest of 7 boys and 3 girls. In order of age they are Ernest born 1917, Robert born 1919, Ruth born 1921, Margaret born 1923, Dorothy born 1926, Herbert "Corky" born 1928, Paul "Peanut" born 1930, Jimmy born 1932, Orville born 1936 and Ronnie born 1940. Ruth, Herbie, Paul, Orville and Ronnie are living. I have a bunch of first cousins on the Oeser side, most of them married with children and grandchildren. The oldest of my 28 first cousins on the Oeser side was Rusty Allen, born in 1945 and passed away in 2010 and my youngest cousin is Joey Oeser born in 1988. My brother Ernest, born in 1939 and sister Ann, born in 1943, were the oldest of the Oeser grandchildren.
Mama's daddy was Wilmoth "Pat" Steele but the grandchildren called him Pawpaw. He was an only son and had three older sisters. Only one of the sisters, Aunt Eleanor, had children and mama grew up with all three, Virginia, Bob and Bill Greenwood. I met her sons, Bob and Bill many times but did not know either of them well. Mama grew up with them, as they lived in their grandfather Steele's home and she visited there often. I have been fortunate to meet Bob Greenwood's daughter Dara Greenwood Howe and we are getting to know one another. We are near the same age and we each have two children, near the same ages. Pawpaw married Minnie Mai Hunt in 1915. Minnie had one sister who died as an infant and 4 brothers one of whom died in infancy. Her surviving brothers were Gerald, Norman and Larry. Mama's Hunt cousins were Lloyd and Katie, children of her Uncle Gerald and Bill and Nettie Rose, children of her Uncle Norman and she was close to all them growing up. Her Uncle Larry never married but he lived with Mama and Daddy in his last years and was a favorite of all the children in the family. Minnie and Pat had 12 children and lost a set of stillborn twins. Minnie died in 1936, 6 weeks after the birth of her last baby. The 12 children in order of birth are Edwin born 1916, Lorena born 1918, Lola Mae born 1919, Paul born 1921, Neva born 1923, Ila Ruth born 9251, Felix born 1926, Bob born 1929, Gerald born 1931, Mary born 1933, Raymond born 1935, and Walter born 1936. Neva, Mary and Raymond are living. My Aunt Mary Steele Gifford has 4 children and we grew up together. We
spent a lot of time at each other's homes and I was very close to the
youngest girls, Eleanor and Linda. Of my 34 first cousins in the Steele family the oldest was Dean Steele born in 1938, died in 1992 and the youngest is Angela Steele Kaukas born 1969.
Merry Christmas to all my family, to my husband Jimmy, my daughters, son in law and grandchildren, to my brother Ernest and all of his family and to my sister Ann and all of her family, to my aunts and uncles and their spouses and to all my cousins and their families. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year in 2013.