What? Family party? Again?

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My Grandma’s brother and sister-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday night. Family from as far away as Phoenix and Kansas City, Kan. and across the ocean in Breddenberg, Germany gathered to congratulate my Great Onkel Hermann and Great Tante Marie Jansen on their golden wedding.

We met at the consummate western-Cincinnati-defines-class eatery Dante’s Restaurant. Seems we have zillions of family and other gatherings at the place. In fact, I’ve never eaten there unless it was in one of their party rooms, upstairs or down, whether that it was for an awards ceremony, banquet dinner or some sort of birthday, wedding or anniversary. Wonder what it would be like to just go there for dinner, like with just one other person?

My cousin George – Hermann and Marie’s oldest son – wrote a very funny and touching poem. You can read it – in George’s own handwriting. There are also photos.

Though my Tante Marie is in notably declining health, she has moments of clarity and seemed to enjoy most parts of the evening. That’s good. It’s hard to see her not doing so well. It not only saddens me for her and my memories of a younger, kind, intrepid woman, but it reminds me of the increasing frailty of all my aging family members.

Gatherings like these also make me proud. I’ve got a great big, great family that really enjoys to be together. Things that used to embarrass the holy living shit out of me now are so endearing that it makes me well up as I type this. I wonder what the other patrons who sat in the dimly lit restaurant – with little oil lamps and white tablecloths and neatly folded napkins on their tables – thought when the Germans on the other side of the thin walls started all singing German drinking songs in unison and yelled “Prost!” and “Suffa!” and then downed shots of Jaegermeister? Well, they probably thought we were unrefined, crazy, drinking Krauts with a penchant for bad behavior in a nice restaurant. And we were. I was so proud to be one of them.

Happy Anniversary, Onkel Hermann and Tante Marie. Here’s to many more…

Photo captions
Hermann and Marie get toasted by John (didn’t get his last name), who was a bricklayer for Hermann for 35 years. He shared some funny anecdotes about working for Hermann and how tough he could be, but said Marie was always there with a doughnut and coffee.

Germans, family and friends raise a toast to Hermann and Marie.

Family from both America and Breddenberg, Germany (Jansens’ hometown) gather for the after-party at Bob and Maryann Jansen’s home in Bridgetown (suburb of Cincinnati).

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