We had more than one Christmas dinner in our family while I was growing up in the 1950's and 60's. I think a lot of families did back then. Mama had dinner at our house for her family, usually on the Sunday after Christmas. Christmas Eve was reserved for the Oeser family.
On Christmas Eve, Daddy and his nine siblings would all gather at their parent's home. Mama and Papa Oeser lived at 1022 Pennock Ave., for most of their married years. We lived across and down the alley, and we always walked to their house. Daddy was named Ernest for his father. Daddy had six brothers, Robert, Herbert "Corky", Paul "Peanut", Jimmy, Orville and Ronnie and three sisters, Ruth "Sis", Margaret and Dot. Our last family Christmas before Mama Oeser died, was in 1963. I believe 24 of what would eventually be 31 grandchildren, had been born by that time. My sister Ann, was the only grandchild who had married at that time, and she had two children. There would have been about 49 immediate family members and probably a few family friends. Ruth Allen, who had been a next door neighbor, in years past, sometimes came with her son Don. Cousin Evelyn Sharer and her husband Vernon were likely to drop by. The house was a small Queen Anne Victorian, with a wrap-around front porch. The house had two entry doors from the porch, at the front and around to the side. There were five rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom and it was here that the ten children had grown up. The living room was L shaped, with a mantel and fireplace. On Christmas Eve every room was filled with aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandmother, my mother, and aunts prepared a feast. Turkey and dressing with every accompaniment imaginable. On the side board there was Spice Round, and Mama Oeser's special potato salad, green beans, fried corn and what seemed like endless bowls of this and that. There were plenty of desserts, including Mama Oeser's fabulous jam cake and a beautiful coconut cake. There was always homemade fruit cake. And of course boiled custard, served from the crystal punch bowl.
When I was young, we exchanged gifts among all the cousins but as the grandchildren multiplied we started a tradition of drawing names, a few weeks before the big night. The ceilings in the old house were high and Mama Oeser always had a tall tree, and under the tree was a winter village. My uncle Robert made lighted houses and a church for the village. There were miniature cars on the road in front. The tree skirt was covered with cotton and looked like snow. In the middle of the village was a frozen pond made from a mirror with ice skaters. It was a magical wonder to a little girl. It was a wonderful time from which many cherished memories are stored.
The younger cousins, may not remember Christmas at Mama Oeser's. After she died in 1965, our aunt, Margaret Oeser Allen took upon herself the tradition of Christmas Eve dinner for the Oeser family. Many wonderful and cherished memories from Christmas at Margaret's home. We are all getting older and we have our own growing families, with children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. We no longer gather as a large family on Christmas Eve. But sometime tonight, I am sure that memories of Christmas with the Oeser's, will cross the minds of many.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Wishing a Merry Christmas to all my Steele cousins.
|Pawpaw Steele sitting at center.|
When I was a child we had a Christmas dinner every year at our house with Mama's family. Her dad and any siblings who were Nashville at the time, along with their families, would come together, usually on the Sunday after Christmas. Mama was the best cook and we had so much good food to share. Mama's family was scattered across the country and we didn't see all of them every year or even know some of them very well. We knew that the ones who could not be present, were with us in spirit, and that Mama thought of and missed each one of them, especially at Christmas time. We were fortunate to spend many Christmas seasons, with Mama's dad, Wilmoth Steele. He was our Pawpaw. His sister's Neva and Ila, had Christmas with us also. Pawpaw's wife Minnie, died before any of her grandchildren were born, but she was always in Mama's thoughts and we loved her through the stories Mama shared. This Christmas, as I take time to remember Christmas past, I think of the many family members who are no longer with us. At Christmas, I really miss my Mama and Daddy and my brother Ernest and my nephew Paul. My uncles, Ed Steele and wife Elsie, Paul Steele and wife Elaine, Felix Steele, Bob Steele, Gerald Steele and wife Phoebe, Walter Steele, and Aunt Neva's husband, Wallace Hunley. Also my aunt Lorena Steele Clingan and her husband George Marion Clingan. This past year we lost our uncle Raymond Larry Steele and our aunt Mary Steele Gifford Cole just one week apart. They are all in my thoughts. At this time of year, I always remember Mama's baby sister Ila Ruth, who died when she 14 months old. Mama was only seven at the time but she never let Ila Ruth be forgotten. Only Neva is left now, out of twelve children.Thinking of Aunt Neva, all of my cousins and all of their families, near and far, those who are still with us, and those who have passed on.
|Steele family 1972|
Click the link to read more about the Steele family - One of Twelve