This past weekend my dad's family gathered to celebrate Christmas.
Each year since Grandma Calvelage chose to go into a nursing home we've gathered there to celebrate Christmas.
Up until about ten years ago the Calvelage clan would gather for each holiday at Grandma's house. It's always nice to see my aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone's extended families.
This weekend brought back a lot of memories about my grandparents.
Grandma and Grandpa Calvelage lived within one mile of my former home in Fort Jennings which allowed me to form a close bond with them as a child.
Grandpa was a "work-a-holic" and your typical farmer. Nothing would keep him down and when he was resting he was worrying about his farm. I loved to ride with him in his cab tractor as he plowed his fields or planted his crops and his chicken noodle soup was a cure all on a "sick day" from school. I will always remember his teasing when I had chicken pox. "You're going to turn into a chicken," he told me.
My sister and I begged mom and dad to "spend the night" at Grandpa's house with the biggest perk being the smell of eggs frying in the morning. To this day, Grandpa's fried eggs have not been duplicated to me. I'm not sure what he fried them in, but they were perfect. The yolk was a little hard on the edges and the whites had a golden brown edge to them. Couple the eggs with some toast, bacon and orange juice (drank from the juice glasses) and you had the perfect breakfast.
Grandma rendered some great memories with her homemade cookies. I have her chocolate chip cookie recipe that includes Rice Krispies. She would add the cereal to make the batch go further and when she baked them she had just the right touch to make the cookies melt in your mouth. Grandma loved to bake cookies and had the perfect cookie jar on her counter filled with them at all times.
At Christmas time her and Grandpa would work hard to prepare cut-out sugar cookies to decorate. I loved going over to their house to help and then enjoy the cookies at our big family Christmas party.
Grandma Calvelage is my only living grandparent with Grandpa Calvelage passing away when I was in high school, Grandma Lammers passed away when I was in the first grade and Grandpa Lammers passed in 2002.
I don't have many memories of Grandma Lammers. Oddly the only one I could come up with for this column is one where she got me to like red grapes.
Grandpa Lammers was another fine grandfather.
He hated being called Grandpa and always urged his grandchildren to call him Grandpa Norm.
I loved the fact that he would call me on a weekly basis just to chat.
"How's your love life going?" he asked one week.
One of my finest memories of Grandpa Lammers is of his 1960 something yellow mustang convertible. I loved that car, he sold the car to someone out of state a few years before his passing and I wish I knew where it was.
Grandpa Lammers built a new house in the Ottawa area and put a pool in the backyard. The funny thing is, he didn't know how to swim. Grandpa built that pool for his family.
He hosted the best family parties and when he played cards his trademark was the "thud" on the wooden table from his ring being slammed when he would throw his playing card.
As the manager of a beer distributor you had to be careful of what your beer tastes were which is probably why I like Miller Light. I guess it's better than Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is what he first distributed.
I can remember when he would visit, mom would wash a glass out with salt water so his beer would form a nice foam head.
Although I find it hard to see Grandma Calvelage in a nursing home, I am comforted by the countless memories I have of her and my other Grandparents. Memories that will last forever.