Category Archives: Holidays

Let’s Have a Parade

parade 2


If you knew anything about me, then you would know that I am a huge history buff. And my favorite subject is the American Revolution. Just the fact that the thirteen American colonies, struggling for their independence from Great Britain, were able to hold their own and eventually triumph over the greatest army in the world (that being the King’s British Army) has always filled me with awe and a sense of American pride.

I have always felt that the Americans were fighting for the right ideals— that are all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They felt the need for independence, the right to be free and govern themselves, and freedom from the tyranny of King George III.

So therefore, “celebrating our nation’s birthday” on the Fourth of July has always been a special day for me.

We usually like to celebrate the Fourth of July with a family barbecue in our back yard, which is not unusual for the typical American family. There’s always plenty of food, great company, tons of games, and lots of laughter. Just being together as a family is celebration enough. And we always display our American flag at the front of our house with pride.

But one of the best Fourth of July celebrations that we ever had occurred when our oldest daughter, Sarah, was ten. She started a tradition for our entire neighborhood which lasted for a few years, and we were amazed by her creativity and the patriotic spirit which she displayed.

When Sarah was ten years old, she was thrilled with parades. We had been to see a parade only the week before the Fourth of July, and Sarah had loved every minute of it. Here favorite part was the marching bands. After seeing that parade, she became obsessed with them. She would march around the house, banging on anything she could find. She would even enlist the help of her younger sister, Stephanie, to be in her parade.

Then we went to our community’s Fourth of July Parade on July 3rd, and that is what inspired our little Sarah to begin a new neighborhood tradition. The morning after the parade, she came to me and said, “Mommy, why don’t they have a parade on our street like the one we watched yesterday?”

“Well, I don’t know. I guess it’s just not the route they wanted to take.”

“I think we should have a parade on our street.”

“I know, honey, but they just don’t want to use our street. There’s nothing we can do.”

With this, she went outside to ride her bike. She had just learned to ride her bicycle without training wheels, a fact which she was very proud of. I watched as Stephanie trailed behind on her tricycle. We live on a street that doesn’t get any through-traffic, so it’s a very quiet and safe street. About ten minutes later, Sarah returned to the house.

“Mommy, I wanna have a parade on our street.”

“I know, honey, but the parade doesn’t go down our street.”

“No, Mommy, I wanna have a parade down our street. Me.”

“You? What are talking about, Sarah?”

“I think we should have a parade with me and all the kids in the neighborhood. We could go up and down the street and have a parade, just like the big parade we saw last night.

I looked at my husband. He raised his eyebrows and smiled at me. You could hear the enthusiasm in Sarah’s voice. It was actually a pretty good idea.

“You know what? I think that’s a great idea! Maybe you could decorate your bikes. I have some crêpe paper left over from the birthday parties. . .”

“Yeah,” my husband interjected, “and we could decorate the wagon and you could put the cassette player in the wagon and have music playing. Then we could get the parents to sit on the lawns and watch while you kids parade down the streets.”

“Really?” Sarah squealed, jumping up and down. “That would be great! I’m gonna go tell everybody!”

So she rounded up all the kids in the neighborhood who had not gone out-of-town for the holiday. It was strange, but it seemed as though hardly anyone had left that particular year for the Fourth of July. I didn’t have enough decorations for all the bikes and wagons, so my husband went to the local K-Mart, which is always open, and picked up everything, including party decorations, because we were going to have a surprise party on our lawn for the kids when they were finished with their parade. The kids were occupied for a few hours, decorating their bikes and having fun just being kids.

Then it was time for the big parade. All the kids had notified their parents, and everyone in the neighborhood brought out their lawn chairs and lined the streets, sitting down to watch the big parade. The kids started at one end of the street and marched down, soon turning the corner, with the music playing. I had been amazed that I managed to find a tape of marching music.

Soon they came marching towards us, with Sarah leading the way. Our daughter, Stephanie, was right behind her because she was pulling the wagon which had the cassette player. The wagon otherwise was filled with stuffed animals and decorated with crêpe paper and balloons. There must have been almost twenty kids in the parade, all of varying ages, on bicycles and tricycles, roller blades and even skateboards. Some of them carried little American flags that I had given them, but all of them smiled as they paraded down the street, waving at the parents who had come out to watch them.

When they finished the parade, we invited all the kids to our house for root beer floats. We had set up the picnic table on our front lawn, complete with a Fourth of July theme table-cloth, napkins, and balloons. They had a wonderful time, laughing, giggling, and talking about how great the parade had been and who had done the best job decorating their bicycle or tricycle.

The neighborhood parade continued for three more years, until Sarah outgrew it. Then she grew weary of it, and sadly, no one else stepped forward to take her place as the leader.

But as a family, we still have root beer floats every Fourth of July, no matter what, and as we do, we reflect on those days gone by.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Leadership involves finding a parade and getting in front of it.” ~ John Naisbitt


A Grand Celebration

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I was happy to watch as our children paid “homage” to my husband, their father, on his special day. But in a way, I was sad, too, that I was not able to visit my father since he’s been deceased since 1971, and it also made me wish that my children could have met their grandfather. I remember how fond I was of my own grandparents, and I wish that my children could have known their grandparents, too.

If I could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, I think the familial feast that I would come up with would be Grandparents’ Day. Now, I realize that Grandparents’ Day has been recognized as a secular holiday in the United States ever since 1978 and as such, it is supposed to be celebrated on the first Sunday of September after Labor Day. Did you know that there’s even an official song for the U.S. National Grandparents’ Day holiday, written by songwriter Johnny Prill, entitled, “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa?”

The problem for me is that this celebration of Grandparents’ Day came too late because all of my grandparents had gone to their eternal reward by then. I wish I could have celebrated this day with them because they were amazing, unique, and wonderful individuals.

My Grandpa and Grandpa Kramlinger were my mother’s parents. They were both German and spoke with thick German accents. Every now and then their English would be sprinkled with German words like “liebschen,” “ja,” “nein,” “danke,” “bitte schoen,” and  “gut.”  Grandma and Grandpa visited almost every Sunday and would spend the afternoon playing cards with my parents.

Grandpa & Grandma Kramlinger

Grandpa & Grandma Kramlinger

Grandpa was quite a short man, a little hunched over, and he walked with a cane. Most of the hair on his head was gone. He chewed snuff and then would spit it into an old coffee can which my mother kept just for him. I remember he would always pull the snuff tin out of his pocket, open it up, and offer it to us as “candy.” Somehow we knew that it wasn’t really candy – it truly did not look that appetizing, anyway. He also called each of us “Tootsie”. Now whether that was a pet name or whether he just couldn’t remember all of our names, I will never know. Later in life, our Grandpa would come and live with us until the end of his days. Those days were special, too.

Now Grandma was a straight-forward sort of gal.  She spoke her mind and made no excuses. But I loved my Grandma. She was taller than Grandpa and she always wore a dress with a necklace, bracelet, and earrings. Her jewelry was costume jewelry, and the bigger the stones, the better. One of my favorite things was when she would give us her “old” jewelry and we would play dress-up with it. She always called me Cynthia.

At Easter time, they always brought these special rolls that Grandma always made called “groffins”. These were sweet rolls which had cinnamon and raisins in them. Whenever she came for Easter, she always brought a brown paper bag packed with these delicious rolls.

Grandma Devine was our father’s mother. She was a widow who lived alone two blocks north and then one block west of our apartment building.

Grandma Devine

Grandma Devine

She was a small woman with grey hair and a very soft demeanor, which was the opposite of my Grandma Kramlinger.  I loved both my grandmothers, but they were as different as night and day.

Every Saturday evening my mother would walk over to our Grandma Devine’s house to set her hair in rollers. Then every few months my mother would then give her hair a permanent. For some reason, and I am not sure why I was chosen, but I was allowed to accompany my mother to my Grandmother Devine’s every Saturday evening so she could set my grandmother’s hair in rollers. None of my other sisters or brother were allowed to come with; only me for some unknown reason.

I loved to go on these outings with my mother. It made me feel special to be the only one allowed to go my Grandma Devine’s. To me, it was an honor and a privilege to visit my Grandma Devine’s. My Grandma Devine was so gentle and sweet. While I was there, she also would give me a special treat of candy which consisted of the chewy green spearmint leaf-shaped candy which I grew to love. It became one of my favorite candies to eat while I was growing up. Now, every time I see those leaf-shaped green spearmint candies, it reminds me of my Grandma Devine.

I mourned the loss of each of my grandparents when the time came, and I wish they were here today so I could celebrate Grandparents’ Day with them. But most of all, I wish my parents were alive so my children could know their grandparents. I know they would have loved them dearly, and I mourn not only my loss of parents, but my children’s loss of their grandparents.

It is a lesson we must all not take lightly – life is precious. We must appreciate those we have here and now. We must let them know how much we love them while we have the opportunity to do so, and we must make every day a familial feast.


QUOTE OF THE DAY:  Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories, and love.”  ~ Author Unknown







Do You Remember Halloween of 1991?

The year was 1991. Our children were so excited for Halloween, and all they wanted was to go out and do some trick-or-treating. At that time, Joe was 8, Sarah, 3, and our baby, Stephanie, only 1. Let me remind you that we live in Minnesota.

“Mom,” Joe asked, “When’s Dad coming home? It’s starting to get dark already!”

“He should be home at any minute.”

“Good, ‘cuz I wanna get out as soon as I can.”

The next thing we knew, my husband Mike came through the kitchen door way.

“Daddy, Daddy!” Sarah put her arms around my husband’s leg. “Can we go treating now? Please?”

“First we have to eat supper, honey, then we’ll go, okay?”


It was difficult to get the kids to sit down and eat their supper that evening, but they did. Before we finished, the doorbell rang and some trick or treaters had begun to arrive.

“See, Mom! It’s time to go!” Joe said emphatically.

“Okay, let’s get ready.”

“Cindy,” said Mike, “It’s cold out there tonight. I think it’s cold enough to snow. You better dress them warmly, okay?”

“I know. Don’t worry. I’ve got covered.”

Joe was going to be the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz.  When I made his costume, I made it over-sized so he could wear plenty of clothes underneath. He looked like a very plump Tinman, but Joe was oblivious to that fact. He was just happy to be ready.

Then it was Sarah’s turn. I had also made her clown costume, and had made it over-sized for lots of layers. She was so happy because this was going to be her first time trick-or-treating. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

“What about Stephie?” Sarah asked.

“She’s too little.”

“Okay,” my husband said, “Is everyone ready?”

“C’mon, Sarah, it’s time to go!” Joe said.

Mike took Sarah by the hand and led her out the door.

“Have fun and stay warm!” I called after them. I noticed the air was quite chilly,and it had begun to snow very lightly.

There weren’t too many kids that came to our door that evening. It was getting really cold and the snow was coming down harder by the minute. Before long, you could barely see anything outside — it was like a blizzard. The snow was piling up fast.

After an hour my husband and kids came home. I will never forget little Sarah. The snow was almost to her waist. I watched them as they trudged through the snow. But they were smiling and seemed perfectly content to be outside. By the time they came back into our house, their clothes were covered with snow, which had begun to soak through to their skin.

“Oh, honey,” I said as I began to undress Sarah. “You must be so cold!”

“It’s okay, Mommy. ‘Cuz I went treating, and look at all the candy I got! One lady said I was the bestest clown ever! It was so much fun, Mommy! Can we do it again tomorrow?”

I smiled. Kids are flexible. They learn to make the best of any situation. That night I learned you must look beyond your troubles, and look for the silver lining — even through the snowstorm!

My Mother

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She makes sure I am safe each day, 
And leads me so I do not stray.
She is my helper and my guide,
I know in her I can confide.
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She tries to teach me right from wrong,
I know her love is there all along.
She wants the best for me; it’s plain to see,
I must try to be the best that I can be.
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She’s always there when things get rough,
And when I feel I’ve had enough.
She gives the very best advice,
Which is to the point and most precise.
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I know that when I’m feeling sad,
She’ll do her utmost to make me glad.
She ‘s my teacher, and she’s my friend,
And I will love her to the very end.
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Who is this person I’m speaking of?
The one that I adore and love?
There’s only one, there could be no other,
My beautiful, wonderful, lovely Mother. 
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