German Thanksgiving and Dad’s 98th Birthday party

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Dad turned 98 years old on November 15th. He is having more problems. But we got together as a family and celebrated a combined celebration which we call German Thanksgiving. We didn’t make a turkey dinner. Instead using mom’s recipes, I made all of dad’s favorite German foods featuring Sauerbraten, dumplings and red cabbage.  Crystal and I, our girls, and grandkids definitely share the excitement dad and I once had when mom made them for us. It was a wonderful thanksgiving combined birthday celebration, commemorating dad’s nearly one century of life.

 

For me, it was also a time of reflection. Until recently I hadn’t realized that dad was born exactly two years and four days after the Armistice was signed ending WWI. His life and my mom’s began in Germany under the shadow of that ‘war to end all wars’. Even though I don’t remember much history, a subject I hated studying when I was young, I do remember learning about the horrors of trench warfare and the extremely punitive nature of the Treaty of Versailles which followed.

 

My parents have both witnessed to me about the prolonged years of oppression and poverty suffered by the German people. This led directly to the call to nationalism which led to a second ‘war to end all wars’. Of course, according to Hitler, the demise of the homeland was largely the fault of a minority group of which dad was a part. It didn’t help that dad’s family had been in Germany for over 300 years or that many had died fighting for Germany. Two of dad’s uncles died in WWI. None of that mattered.

 

Fortunately, after dad and his family escaped to America, they were safe for a couple of years. Many of dad’s relatives weren’t so fortunate, killed outright or dying in the concentration camps.

 

Of course, dad joined the American army and returned to Germany where, after the war, he met mom. That eventually led to me. So….happy ending?

 

The point I wish to make is that, in a long and full life, my father has seen so much change. As we recently celebrated Veteran’s Day, I wonder if any of today’s youth in this world of Amazon and smart phones can really picture that time.

 

I was recently reminded of an old poem which might help.

 

In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

I want to take this occasion to thank my dad, Crystal’s dad, and all veterans for their sacrifice and the gift of our freedom. If we fail to guard it, it will be taken away.

 

From all of our family ages 1 year olds, Ayla and Addy to Dad, at 98 years old,

Happy Turkey Day!

Dad opening presents 11/17/2018

Dad’s Grandfather Herman Meinstein and his wife in Dad’s hometown of Zirndorf Germany circa 1900.

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