Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Countdown and Brian's Trip to Germany

December is a crazy month.  For us it was especially crazy this year because Brian was in Germany for a week with his work.  He left on the 8th and came back on the 15th.  It was a long eight days here at home, but we did some fun things (finding the Christmas Vacation houses here in town, reading Christmas-themed books, Grandma Peggy came to visit).  The work stuff Brian did while he was in Germany would bore you, but! he also did a little family history on his last day.

Nuremberg Castle

Main entrance to the Nuremburg Castle.
There is a famous Christmas Market in Nuremburg during the holidays.  They sell handmade crafts and drink blueberry mulled wine and eat bratwurst with sauerkraut with mustard on buns.  We recreated that meal when Brian got home for our German Christmas Traditions night of the Countdown.  We used Martinelli's blueberry and apple fizzy drink.
Brian was able to visit the Frankfurt LDS Temple on his first day in Germany.  He also went back in time thanks to his parents' camera.
There is a mystery surrounding Brian's great-great grandparents.  His great-great-grandmother was not married (apparently) when she had great-grandpa Herman Emil christened in a church in Polditz, a small town in East Germany.  Herman Emil and everyone who came after him kept his mother's maiden name.  There was a godfather at the christening, according to the documents Brian's parents have been able to obtain, who was not related to anyone in Brian's great-great grandmother's family.  The mystery is, who is Herman Emil's father?  Could it be the godfather who was there witnessing the christening?  We're sure there is more information in the church records, but they've been reluctant to give more help.  
That is Herman Emil to the right of the 50th anniversary cake... and to the left of the jar of pickles.  Brian's grandfather, also Emil, is the man standing furthest to the right.
Anyway!  Brian arranged to drive to Polditz and at least see the church where his great-grandfather was christened.  (The documents Brian's parents have come from the church, so Brian had the address.)
There it is!  The very church where Brian's great-great grandmother took his great-grandfather to be christened.  And it was locked.  Brian and one of his co-workers walked around it, went to see if the pastor who lives next door could help, but he wasn't home.  They went across the street to what looked like a pre-school or a daycare.  Brian doesn't speak German, so they had a hard time communicating with the woman who came to the door.  She suddenly seemed to understand what Brian wanted, but she ran off and Brian thought she wasn't coming back, so he started to shut the door.  She hurried back to the door and handed him the key to the church.
We don't know if this is THE urn(?) that was used to get the water to sprinkle baby Herman Emil, but it does look pretty old.  Something about walking where you know your ancestors have been...  I loved hearing about it from Brian.  
This organ is the pride and joy of this church.  That was locked.  I have a feeling the daycare teacher didn't have a key to it. :)  Brian didn't learn anything new, but he did get to see a little bit of the town where his ancestors lived.  Which is pretty amazing.  His experience has also deepened our resolve to find out as much as we can about our family history.

While Brian was gone, we did a few countdown activities that I didn't photograph since mine were the only two hands on deck.  I did finish the lone star wall-hanging for Allyn and Aron while Grandma Peggy was staying with us.  It's an homage to Great Grandma Rhoda Paskett Lee - the lone star was her signature quilt.
Pink was also in most of the quilts Great Grandma Lee made.  Probably because she used fabric from dresses to make her quilts.  Brian pointed out to me that there are more boys than girls in Allyn's family.  Hmmm.  Sorry, men.  The back was just for Allyn.
I also took Bridget to see the Nutcracker in Provo the day before Daddy came home.  It was beautiful.  I think in a few more years Bridget will like it as much as I did.

We took the kids to This Is The Place Monument Park for a Christmas experience again this year.  The boys were on foot and they took off down every street.  They were very still when we rode the train, though.  ("It's happening!  I'm IN a train!")  The live nativity was my favorite part again.
Emil has to push anything with wheels or on a track.  He is OBLIGATED.
Candy store Christmas tree
This is the little house where Bridget wrote her Christmas wishes and put them in the fire.  The boys did laps- bedroom, parlor, kitchen, bedroom, parlor, kitchen.
We saw Father Christmas at the Dance Hall.  That's funny now that I see it written down.

Bridget and I did luminaries again.  We were smarter to do most of the work indoors.  Sheesh!  They got snowed on, but were still so pretty on Christmas Eve.

I haven't even gotten to the big family Christmas party!  BAH! Another post. For the boys birthday we took them to Jump On It, but I didn't take my camera.  No need.  Too dark and we needed to play man-to-man defense at that place.  It was a strange and wonderful Christmas season.  And today was perfect.  :-)


melissa said...

Merry Christmas! Brian's trip story gave me chills. What a wonderful opportunity! I love that the key is a huge old-school key. I also love the idea of having a traditions night on the countdown. So many lovely pictures. Happy! Happy! Happy!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Brian's own "Who Do You Think You Are" adventure. Wow! So beautiful. -Jen

Bump and Erin said...

My little sister, Tera, lives in Weiden Germany. It is really close to Nuremburg and they love that beautiful walled city. What a great experience for Brian!

Looks like you guys had a really great Christmas!!