Christmas 1970 – Remembering a German Christmas in America

On Christmas 1970 I was only 3 years old… just old enough to get really excited about Weihnachten. The lights, the tinsel, and wonder of wonders… the presents!

You can see me on Mama’s lap… somewhat wide eyed (hard to see behind those glasses…. those days finding stylish eyeglasses for children was a difficult thing). Opa was visiting, as he came to do almost every year in Winter. And there is Papa… he’s not angry or stressed, he just never smiles for the camera! (It’s a family trait… his father, mother and brother are the same). Most likely he’s just thinking about getting the photo right (in those days, you didn’t take a dozen photos hoping to get one good one).

A little dog?… he must of just wandered in, because I have no memory of him at all!

But there is the Christbaum. Wide, with room for silver ornaments to hang, white lights (no candles on the trees in California!) and of course, lots of tinsel (evenly spaced, because Mama was in charge). Everything so beautiful.

This year I am in charge of Christmas, and Mama and Papa are coming here. I’m excited and nervous. After all, my German-ish tree isn’t what they expect. And although I will be cooking a goose, we won’t be eating it off her wedding china.

But, I’m sure, with Mama by my side in the kitchen, the food will be delicious. Papa will organize the drinks and the music. And the kids will get to have that same feeling of excitement on Heilig Abend .. waiting for the signal to come in and  see the room and  tree all lit up, surrounded by presents. Candles lighting the room, and plates loaded cookies and chocolates. Of course,  Glühwein for all. Maybe it won’t be a Christmas like in 1970… but I will do what I can to make sure it’s a Christmas that gives us all happy memories.

I just wonder if a little dog will wander in?

If you would like to introduce some German Christmas Customs and Traditions to your family this year… I’ve put together a list of ideas–> 
German Christmas Customs for Kids


6 thoughts on “Christmas 1970 – Remembering a German Christmas in America

  1. Love your stories. Served in the Army for nearly 10 years in West Germany in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It’s nice reading about German Culture and Traditions. Thank you for your posts.

  2. Wonderful memories and new ones to be made. Frohe Weihnachten!

  3. I love to read about Germans in the US. It is so true and I experienced everything the way it was written. Washing windows was so important. My mother visited me from Germany and said: I am here for 3 week and you never washed your windows. I still iron most of my cloth. Christmas Eve is my holiday. (No real candles because of fire) Now I am teaching my grandchildren some of the children songs and I tell them the story of Struwelpeter, I have to translate this, because they don’t speak German. They love the stories and I think they all have a meaning and you can learn from them. I told my grandchildren, if you don’t wash behind your ears grass will grow. Guess what, they wash behind there ears now. When I visit some friends I always bring flowers or chocolates. I love onions and liver but no one in my family likes liver, so I don’t have it to often. When my family was invited to some ones house (we were 3 children and 2 adults) we were allowed to take only one piece of cake and never more. When we were asked if we wanted another piece of cake we said :No thank you.
    Nice memories I have and will try to teach them to my grandchildren.

    1. those all sound so familiar! My dad LOVES liver and onions… the rest of us don’t … but when mom made it, we ate!

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