|| I was pretty
lucky when I grew up in the 60s in Germany since I had both sets of
my grandparents. The ones I lived with for a while had a farm, bakery and
vineyard while my other grandparents on my dads side lived in the city
well, small town would be a better description. But I considered it
the city since it did not resemble my small village.
It was pretty exciting to visit my Oma and Opa on the weekend, because not
only did they live close to the small train station, but Opa also had a pretty
cool garden nearby that we went to visit a lot during the summer months.
My grandfather worked for the railroad, so he knew a lot about trains and
engines, the times the trains arrived and departed and all the other neat
stories that only train people know.
My grandparents rented a good size apartment on the outskirts of town in
a building that looked like a large villa. The hallways were long and narrow
with squeaky floors. It had a peculiar smell of linoleum and bees wax and
fresh green beans. There was a patio at the end of the hallway covered in
glass with lots of sunshine streaming in throughout the day.
One of the main rooms as in most German households was the
kitchen. It had its usual wood-burning stove, a big table in the center,
a buffet and a sofa so Opa can take his afternoon nap.
There also were some interesting wall plates hanging above the sofa which
later became my focal point when I could read. One in particular stuck out
because of its interesting saying. It read:
Alle Tage ist kein
Alle Tage gibts kein Wein
Aber du sollst alle Tage
Recht lieb zu mir sein
Its English translation
would go somewhat like this: Every day there is no Sunday, every day there
is no wine, but every day please be kind to me.
Every time I remember this saying I think back to the days I spent with my
grandparents in the city and enjoying the traditional Sunday
It was a nice get-a-way to go to town and shop with Oma at the butcher store
for fresh meat on Saturdays. My brother and I would always get a piece of
sausage for a snack. Then wed stop at the bakery store to get our usual
bread, rolls and pastries for us kids. Sometimes she even took us to a café
where she had her coffee and my brother and I had a delicious hot chocolate.
Cafés are really neat and quaint. The hushed atmosphere can be relaxing.
People talk and visit but with quiet voices. Coffee is served on a tray with
a doily in small coffee cans and cups and saucers. Cute little milk cans
and wrapped sugar cubes make the whole presentation seem like a little
girls tea-time set.
If we got lucky and we ended up at grandma's on Friday, we would go to market
and see pigs, ducks and chicken being sold right next to a fruit or vegetable
stand. It was a colorful and noisy day, and my grandma would run into
acquaintances at one point or another during her shopping experience to show
off her grandchildren.
Saturday is cake day. I dont think there was a single household in
Germany that didnt bake their Sunday cake on Saturday. With eager
anticipation my brother and I waited for Omas signal to let us lick
the sweet dough off the wooden spoon with an extra finger dip into the bowl
when she wasnt looking.
Part of Sunday preparation was sweeping the streets, mopping the floors,
dusting or washing windows, which was all done on a Saturday afternoon. Most
shopping for the weekend had to be taken care of on Saturday as well, since
stores are closed on Sundays.
When bedtime came around I usually ended up in the middle of my
grandparents bed. Oma always had the same ritual of telling me the
fairy tales of "The Wolf and the Seven Goats" followed by "Little Red Riding
Sometimes my grandfather would put in his own commentary and change up the
story a little, which always made us laugh so hard. Later on I realized that
even though I enjoyed the stories told to me, it was the voice of my grandmother
that sounded so soothing and reassuring to me.
After the stories we had to say our good-night prayers and I had to recall
every relative and family member for a special blessings. My grandmother
made sure we wouldnt forget this important part of our nighttime ritual.
I liked their bedroom, because the flowery curtains she had on her windows
looked like faces to me, and I always tried to find a new face in the patterns.
Very entertaining indeed when one lies there waiting to get up for breakfast
on Sunday morning.
She also had this beautiful picture on top of her bed that looked like it
was from the 40s era with a baby lying on a pillow while the mother
lovingly gazes at her curly-haired child. Two small cherubs peeked through
the dark silk curtains in the background with smiling faces.
I loved that picture so much. I dont know what happened to it in later
years, but the impression this picture had on my young girls mind lasts
to this day. I could only see total adoration and love in the eyes of the
Sundays are special throughout Germany. Most people dont work on Sundays.
It starts off quietly, since hardly any cars or trucks are out on the street
in the morning. Oma would fix us hot chocolate and serve her regular bundt
cake. It was quite a sweet awakening considering the amount of
sugar we got, but it was after all a Sunday, and had to be different than
the everyday Monday through Saturday where bread, butter and jam are the
We all dressed in our Sunday clothes. Opa and Oma both would wear hats to
church, and I remember that I even had a hat once myself. Sunday Mass is
different than on regular workdays. There is a festive feeling to it.
It was also nice to visit another church occasionally. The figures and statues
on the side altars can take a while to discover all of their fine details.
Especially for a kid it was great to look at the paintings, since I had no
clue what the priest was preaching on. I used my time by checking out my
surroundings and as always used my imagination to picture the life of the
Saints and Jesus Himself; and I was always mesmerized by Marys beauty
By the time church was over, we had to rush home so Oma could check on her
roast. We usually had roast with potato dumplings and creamed Chinese cabbage
or green beans and salad. Opa would turn on the radio to listen to brass
band music, while I tried to help my grandmother with her potato dumplings
(I still havent figured out how to do them right).
After dinner we often took a walk through the town or in the park, and if
family or friends werent coming over to visit, shed still set
the coffee table with a tablecloth and her fine china. I loved the smell
of coffee brewing. Sitting down for cake and coffee in the afternoon is one
of the most relaxing experiences in Europe. I consider it almost an art form
and it is similar to the English Tea Time.
People invite each other over for visits on Sundays to catch up with each
other while sitting around the living room table (used probably only on Sundays)
with fine porcelain cups, saucers and a white tablecloth, candles and sometimes
Sundays are certainly a day of rest when I was growing up. I was able to
distinguish the difference between work days and rest days. It brought a
break into the mundane everyday life. Even the food that was being served
that day would be different and special.
I lost this sense of a holiday for a while when I came to live in the US,
but have since then regained a fresh understanding of what a holiday represents.
Its divine law as outlined in Genesis that man is to rest on the seventh
day has found a new meaning in my present day life.
I now consider traditions and rituals as a form of silent communication.
Their actions seem to transmit a message to mans spirit that can bring
forth a profound depth and understanding to his everyday existence if grounded
in the truth of a law that furthers the betterment of his character.
The Sabbath law is wisdom in action.
I have seen in my personal experience that adversity is hard labor. All six
workdays are a struggle to extract a living from the soil. Both of my
grandparents and parents had their hardship in their lives, but on Sundays
they regained a new perspective on their lives and were able to enjoy the
fruits of their labor. Its observance celebrates life and overcomes the daily
challenges of the week.
I have finally recognized that a divine law does not restrict but brings
forth a growth in man that leads to maturity. Adversity is part of this process.
Yet, I seem to notice how many laws in the books are dead and lifeless. They
represent no meaning, because their creators want to eradicate adversity
and diversity. I see these laws as babysitting the immature. They want Sundays
everyday rather than labor for six days and use adversity and differences
as a tool to bring out the best within themselves.
I challenge any lawmaker to evaluate their laws to see if they restrict man
and snuff out every bit of liberty or if they further growth.
My grandmothers wall plate expresses a true statement in a sense that
every day cannot be a Sunday, and every day cannot be wine, but kindness
and love should rule the life of men. The labor of every day is needed as
much as the day of rest to accomplish this balance.
I appreciate the understanding Ive gained through this experience,
because daily adversity has brought alive the important meaning of respect
and honor for self and others. A good law can create good character in all
people. But most of all, it allowed me to value life with its ups and downs.