Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 Glimpses- Connections, Relationships, People

January- with children at a daycare in Runaway Bay Jamaica


February- with my brother-in-law Paul at a Mexican restaurant in Florida


March- with my husband Dave at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin

April- with my friend and manager Gerry at the MCC Thrift Store

May- with my niece Amanda, celebrating her university graduation

June- with my friend Meena from Hong Kong who was visiting us in Winnipeg

July-with my friend Marge at a social event for our husbands’ slow pitch team in Bemidji

August- with my husband Dave celebrating our 41st anniversary

driedger family at tipSeptember- with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law John and Linda, my niece Hannah and my husband Dave at Point Pelee National Park

me and aunt viOctober- with my Aunt Vi in Saskatoon

at wag with kidsNovember- with children telling stories at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

marylou and sonDecember- with my son at a Christmas Eve party at our house

Other end of the year posts……..

And What Have You Done?

Make New Friends But Keep the Old

Traditions To End and Start a Year

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But He Wasn’t Unbroken

unbroken_ver4We went to see the movie Unbroken. I had read the book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand and was disappointed that the movie omitted so much of the biography of war hero and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini.  The film directed by Angelina Jolie focused on two dramatic and exciting experiences in Zamperini’s life- his 47 days afloat in a life raft in the Pacific Ocean and his time spent as a Japanese prisoner of war.  

The film leads us to believe he came through those experiences an unbroken man.  The movie ends after the war when Louis arrives in the United States and is reunited with his family.

Just before the screen credits roll we are shown photographs and text that lets us  know after his safe return home Louis married, had children, and carried the Olympic torch at the 1998 Olympics held in Japan. What the movie doesn’t tell us however was that he returned from war a broken man who had constant nightmares, drank too much and suffered from mental health problems.  His wife was on the verge of divorcing him when he had a spiritual awakening. He looked to God for help and managed to turn his life around. 

The movie leaves the impression that military service in war-time does not result in traumatic life long consequences.  It portrays a strong soldier, a tough guy who survives with his pride intact.  He is unbroken.  That rarely happens in real life and it didn’t happen to Zamperini.  He credits his return to some normalcy following his war-time ordeal to his ability to forgive his Japanese captors. 

On the CBS Sunday morning show this week they paid homage to famous people who had died in 2014 including Louis Zamperini. The  quote used for his tribute was…..”If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate; you’re hurting yourself. It’s a real healing, forgiveness.”

Forgiveness allowed Zamperini to go on with his broken life and find healing and hope. The movie Unbroken didn’t really show us that. I think it would have been a better movie if it had. 

Other posts about movies…….

Winnipeg and Mennonites in Gone Girl

I Need to See a Happy Movie

Love in a Lunch Box

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I Love My Christmas Presents

I realize Christmas has become way too commercialized and I think movements like Buy Nothing Christmas have value because they really make us think about the necessity of purchasing all the things we do. That being said I absolutely loved so many of the presents I received for Christmas. 

dinosaur hatsMy cousin Lynne made Dave and me these matching dinosaur hats.  She also made one for our grandson who is absolutely crazy about dinosaurs.  On Christmas Day we had fun with our grandson pretending to be Driedgerasourases. memory bookMy friend Debbie made me this lovely memory book.  There are all these little tabs to pull out and pockets to put things in and pages to paste things on- each decorated just beautifully and uniquely.  I can hardly wait to start filling its pages with memories. 

van gogh socksBecause I have a job at an art gallery my friend Esther chose these Vincent Van Gogh socks for me.  I’ve already worn them and besides being artistic they are very warm.hand made file folder My friend Christina who is part of my writers’ group made this file folder which I received in a gift exchange at our writers’ group Christmas party. (Sorry Gabe for stealing it from you in the gift exchange game.  But it was just sooooo beautiful. ) It’s covered with interesting buttons, pages from books, lines of poetry, swatches of lace and material, architectural designs and definitions. It is the perfect place to store all those bits and pieces of information you collect when you are writing a book.  Check out Christina’s amazing creations at Whither Shins certificateOne of our sons and his wife gave us a gift certificate to a local games cafe where you can have a meal and enjoy spending time together playing one of the hundreds of games on the shelves. We’ve been wanting to visit every since it opened several months ago and now we’ll get to go and have a fun evening with our kids.  I’m looking forward to it. jeweled notebookI always keep a little notebook in my purse to write down ideas for articles and blog posts and to jot down reminders about interesting things I see and hear.  How did my friend Glenys know my latest notebook was full and I needed a new one? I tend to lose my little notebooks in my big purse but not this bejewelled one from India which catches the eye immediately. 

My husband gave me an I-Phone.  I’m aware of the fact that it makes me even more dependent on technology but I sure enjoy using it.  My old phone was a flip phone and texting was painfully slow.  I am already appreciating the convenience of being able to exchange quick texts with my children, my siblings, the students I mentor, my art gallery colleagues and best of all the enjoyment of being able to Face Time with my grandson from my phone.  The health application that comes with the phone is inspiring me to walk even more steps a day. I’m looking forward to using the GPS application to find neat spots to explore on our travels and the camera on the phone has taken so many impromptu photos with friends and family already just because it’s handy and available. picture frame made from old grain silosThis unique picture frame was a gift from our older son and his family.  It was made from metal recovered from abandoned grain bins in Saskatchewan.  Our gift included three family photos which fasten cleverly onto the frame with magnets. The photos were taken by our children’s friend who is a professional photographer.  

 I know gift giving can go overboard at Christmas but I love the gifts I got because they all have connections to people.  Looking at them and using them will be a reminder of the thoughtful people who gave them to me. 

Other Christmas posts…….

Christmas is Over

This Christmas Will Be

A Christmas Day in Hell

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A Flood of Books

My Dad reads to my sister and me. We are holding the dolls we got for Christmas.

I learned about the Christmas Book Flood on a website called December in Reykjavik

Iceland sells more books per capita than any other nation in the world, and the vast majority are sold in the lead-up to Christmas. In Iceland this is known as the Christmas Book Flood. The tradition in Iceland is that everyone must receive at least one book for Christmas to take to bed on Christmas Eve along with some chocolates. And so, beginning in November, hundreds of books are released onto the market and the talk is all about books – in the media, in the workplace, among family and friends, and at Christmas parties. And once Christmas is over and the books have been read, everyone’s a critic, giving their views and opinions of that latest tome and whether it is as good, or better, as the author’s last one.

My mom reading with her sisters around 1933.

I love the way time to read and reflect is built right into the holiday traditions in Iceland. I gave books to each member of my family this Christmas and spent lots of time reading to my grandson, but my own personal book flood starts tomorrow when we get in our car and head to Arizona.  

Me reading to kids in Jamaica

I have a large back pack absolutely stuffed with books and I plan to read every single one in our two months away from Winnipeg.  Many more are loaded onto my Kindle and more will no doubt find their way there. I’ll keep you posted as I swim through my flood of books. 

Mom reading to us. My sister and I in dresses Mom sewed for Christmas. You can see the stockings are hung.

Other posts about reading……

The Greenhouse 

The Changing World of Readers

The Future of Books

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High Drama at the Christmas Family Gathering

christmas 1961There’s certainly a story in this photo from the early 1960s.  My cousins and I are all at my grandparents in Gnadenthal, Manitoba no doubt getting ready to sing O du fröhliche or some other German carol like Ihr Kinderlein kommet for my grandparents before receiving our gifts. My cousin Charlotte on the far right is being difficult. She has a mind of her own and her mother, my Aunt Mary, is having a hard time cajoling her into joining the cousin chorus.  

Each cousin has a different reaction. I’m on the far left in the back row.  I’ve pasted a cardboard grin on my face to show the drama doesn’t affect me.  My cousin Bernie on the other end of the back row, in his dapper pin striped suit coat that matches the one his twin brother Al is wearing, appears to be the only cousin who finds the situation humorous. (Note the lovely velvety blue jumpers my mother has sewed my sister Kaaren and me for Christmas with just enough material left over for my little brother’s vest.)

My cousin Connie next to me is obviously aghast at her younger cousin’s behavior as exhibited by the hand to her cheek in an “Oh no!’ type of gesture. My little brother Ken is turned sideways just staring, totally absorbed in the drama unfolding before his eyes while my sister Kaaren and my cousin Al look straight ahead neither smiling or showing emotion.  They must be thinking, “This is a serious situation but it is best ignored.” Note that my cousin Robert in his bright red vest has a worried look on is face, and is clutching his tütje in his hand.  Will his cousin’s antics perhaps result in the loss of the tütjes which are a reward for a good Christmas performance for our grandparents? 

This was so long ago and now most of my cousins and siblings are already enjoying their retirement years. Today no doubt many of us in the photo will be attending gatherings and parties with our own families and new little dramas will unfold and play out.  Some will be forgotten and some, like this one, will be captured on film and become memories of family Christmases past. 

Merry Christmas to all my cousins.  We made some great memories together!

Other posts about Christmases past………

The Nuns’ Christmas

My Mother’s Childhood Christmas

Christmas Stocking Crisis

Tutjes- An Important Christmas Tradition

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Driedger Santas

dave santaDave dressed up as Santa in the 1990’s ready to go over to our friends’ Terry and Audrey’s to be Santa for their daughter Carly. dressing up like santa in hong kongMe in Hong Kong with two of my international school teaching colleauges having fun at a Christmas party in our Santa hats. santaDave in his Santa hat at a party we put on for refugee children in Hong Kong.

Merry Christmas to all my What Next? readers!

Other posts ………

Looking for God in the Wrong Places

Christmas Eve

Christmas Stocking Crisis


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Tütjes- An Important Christmas Tradition

Tütje is the German word for the paper bag of treats children used to receive after the Christmas Eve service in Mennonite churches. The tütjes of my childhood contained a Christmas orange, candy cane, chocolates and lots of peanuts. I mentioned tütjes in a Facebook post one December and received a host of tütje memories from my Facebook friends.

cousins at Christmas

Around the Christmas tree with my cousins at our grandparents in the early 60s

Margaret looked forward to the box of Cracker Jack in her childhood tütjes

Heidi’s tütjes included small cheeses.

Gabrielle remembers her tütje smelling of ginger.

Millie says the quality of the tütje depended on which man in the church had purchased the treats. If it was her father they were sure to have the best oranges and chocolate. If it was a certain Mr W they had to settle for sour lemon drops and pink spongy candy. Since not all tütjes were the same, Millie recalls fierce trading wars as she and her siblings swapped liquorice for ribbon candy or chocolates for oranges.

with my siblings around the christmas tree

With my siblings around the Christmas tree- age 10

As a child, my brother liked tütje time because it was the one occasion when the staid atmosphere of the church sanctuary erupted into noisy chaos. He remembers a church member who was a high school physical education teacher, throwing the tütjes across the pews and the kids having to catch them.

The fear of not getting a tütje loomed large. Helen recalls the year she had chickenpox on Christmas Eve and couldn’t attend church. Her main concern wasn’t her illness, but rather missing out on her tütje. She was so happy when her twin sister brought one home for her.

Dave around age 7

My husband Dave had a similar experience. One December 24th  just before his family was to leave for the Christmas program at church a piece of coal got stuck in the boiler pipe in his family’s greenhouse on their vegetable farm in southern Ontario shutting the boiler down. Since my husband was the smallest in the family he was designated to crawl inside the boiler to remove the offending piece of coal so the boiler could get going again and keep all their precious plants from freezing.  However in order for him to crawl into the boiler, first all the coal had to be shovelled out.  So Dave had to stay home with his Dad to shovel coal and fix the boiler while the rest of the family went to church. Dave remembers not being nearly as upset about the work he had to do, as he was about missing out on his tütje. Thankfully his Mom brought one home for him.

I thought tütjes were a Mennonite tradition but Kathy received one in the Dutch Reform Church she attended.

 Merle says it’s a tradition in the United Church too.  

Cindy who grew up in a Mennonite church was astonished at the comparatively lavish nature of the tütjes when as an adult she began attending a Lutheran church with her family.

Barbara, who used to live in Taiwan, said churches there used candy bags to bribe children to come to church on Christmas Eve since the services were very long.

Mary Anne said her extended family carries on the tütje tradition to this day with older grandkids buying the ingredients and family members getting together to assemble the bags, which are then placed beside each person’s Christmas stocking.

The tütje enthusiasm and nostalgia on my Facebook page made it clear they remain an important Christmas tradition. A special thanks to all my friends who shared their tütje memories. I wish I could have included them all.  

Other Christmas posts……

A Christmas Story Written and Illustrated by Ten-Year-Olds

A Christmas Carol Saved Our Lives

The Family of Jesus Portrayed in a Controversial Way





Filed under Childhood, Food, Holidays

A Curious and Troubling Nativity Scene

A Curiousity in Her Own Country by Phil MayI took a photo of this cartoon in 2010 when I visited the Museum of Sydney in Australia.  It shows an Indigenous mother and child dressed in European style clothing, seated on a city street. Non-indigenous onlookers are gathered around staring at them.  The cartoon called A Curiosity in Her Own Country is by Phil May and appeared in a Sydney newspaper called the Bulletin in March of 1888.  In 1888 Indigenous people in Australia lived in poverty on reserves or in camps on the fringes of cities. They were kept out of sight. Many people rarely saw them. So it is easy to imagine that when they did, they might have stared at them as if they were unusual or exotic.  Ironically in the 1800s, the word ‘curiosity’ meant a unique item worthy of a place in a collection. The cartoonist satirizes the fact that the woman is seen as a ‘curiosity’  in her own country. The woman and child are drawn realistically while the onlookers are caricatures. 

Australia by Martin SharpIn 2009 Australian artist Martin Sharp created a painting called Australia based on the 1888 cartoon.  It was also on display in the Museum of Sydney during our 2010 visit.  Sharp’s rendition reminds me of a nativity scene. The mother and child both have halos the way Mary and Jesus often did in Renaissance paintings.  The stars adorning Sharp’s painting remind me of the starry sky in Bethlehem that led curious onlookers like the shepherds and Magi to Jesus.  Was Jesus a ‘curiosity’ in his ancestral home?

Both May’s 1888 cartoon and Sharp’s 2009 painting make me wonder who we relegate to the status of ‘curiosity’ in 2014.   

Other posts about Mary ……….

She Was 13 Years Old

Only Five Star Hotels for the Holy Family

Thinking About Mary


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Grandpa and Me

grandpa and meMy Aunt Nettie sent me a photo last week that I had never seen before.  It is a picture of me and my paternal grandfather Diedrich Peters on my grandparents’ farmyard in Gnadenthal Manitoba.  I must have been around two years old. My aunt said she thought my Grandpa’s expression of pride and pleasure was priceless.  Looking at the photo reminded once again how incredibly fortunate I was to have grandparents who loved me and thought the world of me when I was a child. My grandfather’s joy in the future generations of his family didn’t wane as he got older. joel great gp - Version 2He’s got that same look of delight on his face as he holds my son, his great-grandson twenty-four years later. 

Other posts about my grandparents……

Remembering My Grandpa

My Grandparents’ Honeymoon

My Grandma Was a Guitarist


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Icy Inspiration

icicles on the Royal Albert Hotel Winnipeg

The city is caught in the grip of ice–
Trees, walls, snow, are as under glass

by Anna Akhmatova

hoar frost winnipeg exchange district

Job 37:10 By the breath of God ice is givencrossing seal river sawatsky statue  winnipeg

Winnipeg has been caught in the grip of ice for the last few days.  It is almost impossible to walk safely on the slippery sidewalks and yesterday we had a minor accident with our car trying not to slide into two other cars that had just collided on an icy street.  I thought it might be inspirational to remember that ice can be beautiful too. 

“Ice contains no future , just the past, sealed away. As if they’re alive, everything in the world is sealed up inside, clear and distinct. Ice can preserve all kinds of things that way- cleanly, clearly. ”
― Haruki Murakami

Other Inspiration posts…….

Thoughts About Children

Wild Flower Inspiration

Eagle Inspiration

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