Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

At Grandma Berg's House

Merry Christmas!
I'm with my family . . .
So here's a repost!

My Grandma and Grandpa Berg
Who loved me.

Christmas excitement at the Stringam house was always two-fold.
There was the anticipation and joy over the gift-giving.
And getting.
And then there was the Christmas trip to Grandma and Grandpa Berg's house (hereinafter known as 'Grandma's House').
My Mom's parents.
I'm still not sure which was more exciting.
After the frenzy of unwrapping had dwindled and the euphoria and excitement of yet another Christmas morning had waned, it was time to pack the car for Grandma's house.
Yes!
We were allowed one suitcase.
So I had to carefully choose what gifts to bring along.
Much wrinkle-browed thought was put into what would accompany me.
One had to keep in mind that it would be many days before one could play with all of the other new toys, so the decision could not be made lightly.
What clothing and necessities went into the suitcase, however, were hap-hazard at best.
And most of the time . . . no less than sketchy.
It wasn't unusual to find that I had forgotten such necessities as . . . underwear. Pajamas. Shirts. Pants. Socks. Toothbrush.
In fact, as my Mom pointed out on at least one occasion, "Diane, what did you pack? Because there certainly aren't any clothes in here!"
I would look up at her.
Oops.
She would sigh and go to ask Aunt Eva or Aunt Louise if their kids had any clothes I could borrow.
It didn't matter. I was happily playing with my numerous cousins.
None of whom cared what I was wearing.
And that was just the start of the fun at Grandma's.
My older sister and I got to sleep in my Mom's old room at the top of the grand stairway.
In a bed with a delicious feather tick.
Perfect for a little, warm sleeping nest.
There was also a little, hidden cupboard
Deeply secret.
No one knew it was there, except Chris and I.
And of course whoever hung the old clothes and other stuff stored inside, but why quibble over details?
Just outside our room, against one wall in the hall, was a ladder.
Leading to the incredible, top secret attic.
My brothers spent hours up there, reading old comics and stuff left by my mother's brothers.
I was never allowed to go.
'Cause I was a girl.
Whatever that meant.
The large bedroom across the hall from mine was where my brothers slept. It was full of treasures. Books and games from my Mom's childhood.
Or at least from her brothers'.
I imagine they happened about the same time . . .
At the bottom of the staircase in the warmly shiny, plank floor was a square vent.
Just wide enough for Sharon, Julie, Susan and I to sit on.
Or lay on.
Or play . . . you get the picture.
All during Christmas, it blew warm air.
Just for us.
Hour after hour, we cousins and siblings would crouch together on the slatted steel. Warm and toasty.
Paradise.
There was plenty to eat at Grandma's house. Food that left her large, sunny kitchen in great, delicious quantities.
And just as quickly disappeared.
And the all-important cookie tins.
Grandma always baked many, many different kinds of cookies.
All delicious.
Then put a selection into several tins and placed them throughout the house.
It was like a treasure hunt.
Except that, invariably, the Smaarbucklesa (spelled phonetically because it's Swedish and none of us kids knew what she was saying . . .) disappeared immediately.
From every, single tin.
Rats!
Even the furniture at Grandma's house was an adventure just waiting to happen.
When Grampa Berg wasn't sitting on it, there was always his chair, sitting innocently beside the great living room window.
The chair that vibrated, if one turned the dials.
Like the rest of Grandma's house, it was magic.
And there was always the carved, wooden feet under the dining table to sit on.
And hide.
Although, looking back, I really don't know how effective my hiding was.
Especially when someone would ask for Diane and someone else would say, "Probably under the table."
Sigh. 
Secret agent material, I wasn't.
But the most exciting part about being at Grandma's house was the little sun room on the side of the house.
A sunny little place.
That had a tenant.
Hanging silently on one wall.
Just waiting for the most daring cousin to dart in and . . . touch it.
And run away screaming.
Okay, okay, so I was always the one who was scared to go in and screamed on the way out.
Sheesh.
But you have to admit that a stuffed moose head is really scary.
Okay, you don't.
But it was.
When I was four.
At Grandma Berg's house.
The best place on earth.

14 comments:

  1. It's so easy to be there with you. Love your writing styles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for being there with me. It's such a sunny, warm place . . .

      Delete
  2. I'll never forget the trips to Grandma's house, especially before Highway 36 was paved and there was no bridge across the Bow River. The ferry was beached for the winter making us drive across the river on the ice. Back then there was real ice but it was scary because you could see numerous stress cracks in it. But it never caved in. Incidently you weren't allowed up in Grandma's attic because there was a spook up there...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally missed the cracking ice beneath the car wheels. Probably a good thing. I would have been wrapped so hard around Mom's neck, they would have had to peel me off like an orange. Huh! So THAT'S why girls couldn't go up. You were just keeping me safe. I never knew . . .

      Delete
  3. Oh I bet. I used to raid my grammas pantry too. She always had stuff my Mom didn't lol

    Merry Christmas to you again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you LL! Grammas always have neat stuff. Is this the moment to admit that I LOVED her pickled herring? Probably not . . .
      Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  4. Such beautiful and fun memories... I remember going to my grandmothers for Christmas, she always made the best stuffing that we would all sneak bites of when no one was watching :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sneaking bites is the best thing about being at Gramma's! See? You get it!

      Delete
  5. Your Grandma's house sounds so perfectly perfect! All the stairs, the attic, the sunroom. Just wonderful.
    I never went to my grandma's house, it's kind of a long way from South Australia to Hamburg Germany.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But how truly wonderful it would have been! Mmmm. Germany for Christmas! That's my fondest dream!

      Delete
  6. I hope Christmas is a long and magical for our grandchildlren, as well.

    ReplyDelete

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