Category Archives: Family

Getting Nostalgic and Just a Little Sad

cousins peleeThis is my favorite photo from our family reunion weekend on Pelee Island in Ontario. One night as the sun was setting our children and their cousins made their way  down to the lake front to sit by a large inukshuk someone had built.  Watching them silhouetted against the sinking sun I got kind of nostalgic and sad.  I remembered all the happy times these thirtysomething adults had as kids… playing together, celebrating holidays and having fun on their grandparents’ farm.

Their grandparents have died now, all these cousins have families of their own, and several live in other provinces, so it will be harder and harder to bring everyone together. Our reunion this summer was a whole year in the planning. 

cousins peleeLater looking at this photo I thought of how lucky the Driedger cousins were to have been part of a family where they were loved so unconditionally by their grandparents and where aunts and uncles and cousins cared about them and were interested in them.  One of the purposes of inukshuks is to act as direction markers so people can find their way.  They are like northern compasses. I hope as our children look back on our many family gatherings over the years, they will have a sense that our time together served as a kind of marker or touchstone that helped them navigate through life. pelee island sunset

Other posts………

The Path of Life

The Driedger Amazing Race

Name That Driedger

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The Path of Life

I received a very unique gift during our Driedger family weekend on Pelee Island. I had created a photo collection of several hundred pictures to showcase our family’s life across the generations and had written a book telling the story of my husband Dave’s parents.  In appreciation my niece Stephanie presented me with a beautiful bracelet made by the Alex and Ani jewelry company. I had never heard of the company before so I did a little research. Founded by Carolyn Rafaelia in 2004 and named after Carolyn’s two daughters the company designs jewelry pieces that “adorn the body, enlighten the mind and empower the spirit.”  Since its beginnings over a decade ago the Aex and Ani company has grown into an international business worth billions of dollars. They donate 20% of their profits each year to a variety of charities prominently featured on their website and their employees serve as volunteers in various worthwhile projects for thousands of hours each year. 

The symbols on their jewelry have special meanings.  My bracelet has the Path of Life symbol.  The text included in the box that came with my bracelet said……..Life is a journey.  We each choose our own path and these choices create our future. Every twist, turn and miraculous detour has its purpose. 

It was such an appropriate gift for a family party during which we were celebrating the lives of my husband’s parents.  I realized as I wrote their life stories how the choices they made along life’s path to immigrate to Canada, to persevere through the depression, to maintain their faith and hope through all kinds of adversities had created a bright future for their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.  

I love my Path of Life bracelet. It will serve as a beautiful reminder of our family’s journey. It wasn’t a necessary gift though because I got all the reward I needed as I watched people looking at the book about our family history and talking about it. 

Other posts……… 

Engagement Memories

Earrings and Tombstones

A Forty Five Year Old Necklace

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Driedger Top Chef Junior

Spectators and contestants gather for the top junior chef hot dog contest.

Who would be the top chef? Another contest during our family’s Pelee Island reunion was designed specifically for the great-grandchildren. They each picked a mentor from the next generation to help them create and name a gourmet hot dog.

My husband Dave tests the Nacho Dog.

Our senior generation acted as judges which meant we got to taste each of the culinary creations and grade them on creativity, taste and presentation.  

The Hot Taco Doggie team wore sombreros and had Mexican music playing during their hot dog presentation

The junior chefs and their mentors had used hot dogs in so many different ways.  The Candy Crusher dog featured chocolate sauce and hard candies.  The EggsZactly hot dog was served on a waffle with a poached egg on top and the Big Mac hot dog featured macaroni and cheese. After each hot dog had been tasted and graded the teams appeared one by one in front of Judge Uncle Dave who provided commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Here the creators of the Raging Oma hot dog receive their feedback from the judge. In the end the Holy Chipotle team was the champion because the taste of their hot dog with its homemade chipotle sauce just couldn’t be beat. 

A team hugs as they await the judge’s verdict on their hot dog

The contest was lots of fun but also a great exercise in team spirit and cooperation as partners worked together in the kitchen to create their hot dogs, shared ingredients with other teams and cheered on their opponents. 

Other posts………..

The Amazing Race Driedger Style

A Dog Ate the Cabbage Rolls

Name That Driedger Family Game

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Remembering Auntie Margaret

margaret and marj (1)

Margaret as a young woman

Yesterday I said a final goodbye to my Auntie Margaret. My father’s ninety-one year old sister died on July 20. A memorial service and tea hosted by Margaret’s family provided an opportunity for people who had loved my aunt to gather and remember her passion for music, her interest in current events, her respect and care for the children she taught during her long career as an educator, her special relationship with her granddaughters, her love of good books, her skill as a hostess and cook, and her ability to engage in stimulating conversation on a whole variety of topics, the more controversial the better .

My Aunt Margaret second from the left enjoys a  laugh with her sisters as they dress up in some of their mother’s clothes

Margaret loved to laugh. Her laughter could fill a room. Once I was in a Winnipeg movie theatre packed with hundreds of people. The audience began to laugh at the antics of the characters on the screen. I could pick out my aunt’s laugh almost instantly it was so distinctive.  I hadn’t seen her before the lights of the theatre dimmed but I knew from her laugh she was in the audience and indeed I discovered later she had been.

My Dad with his five sisters. My Aunt Margaret is to his right.

My aunt was the first feminist I knew personally.  When I was a young woman she gave me a copy of The Woman’s Bible which provided reflections on every single female in the Bible. I had never heard of many of these women before because their stories had been so neglected or simply overlooked by mainstream religion.  In mid-life Margaret went back to using her maiden name, not because her commitment to her husband Dave was any less loyal, but I think to reassert her individuality and to show her appreciation for a mother who had taught her to ask questions and a father who had encouraged her to become as educated as she could despite her gender. 

Margaret’s obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press.

On my last visit with Margaret a few weeks ago my sister and I engaged in a lively conversation with her for nearly two hours about family, politics, theology and travel. I was in Ontario when I received word she had died and in the letter I sent her daughter Lynne that night I said I would remember my Auntie Margaret for her signature laugh, her eagerness to learn new things and embrace new ideas, and how easy it was to talk to her. I will miss her and so will the many people who gathered to remember her yesterday.  

Other posts……..

Cousins

Back Porch News

My Grandmother’s Epitaph

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Name That Driedger Family

dave and great nephew

My great nephew shown here with my husband Dave did a terrific job as one of the game announcers for Name That Driedger Family

Another one of the competitions during our Driedger family gathering was a ‘name that family’ story game.  There are four Driedger brothers and one representative from each of their families formed a panel of game players.  Each panel member had four photos on sticks to hold up, one photo of each Driedger brother. When a game announcer read a story like…….’when this Driedger was a teenager she stole a car’ or ‘when this Driedger was a little boy he saw a spider in the bathtub and didn’t take a bath for a month’ the panel members had to decide which of the four Driedger families that story came from by holding up the correct brother’s photo.   They got bonus points for correctly identifying the individual person within the clan the story was about. trivia driedger challengeIt was so much fun to hear all the crazy stories and we learned new things about each other as we listened to them. paul hugs

My brother-in-law Paul’s family won this challenge.  They were ably represented on the panel by Paul’s granddaughter shown in this photo to his left.  Here he gets a congratulatory hug from her as well as two of his nieces. 

Other posts…….

The Amazing Race Driedger Style

The Driedgers at Spring Training

Family Fun

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The Amazing Race Driedger Style

Posing with some of my Amazing Race teammates for the mannequin video challenge on a slip and slide mat

During our four days on Pelee Island with my husband’s family we participated in a number of fun events planned by two of my nephews and their partners.  One was The Driedger Amazing Race.  The more than thirty people in our family were divided into four teams and each was assigned a pick up truck to travel to various destinations around Pelee island. chloe team blueI was on the blue team and one of the first things we did was paint our faces to advertise our team color.  We got bonus points for our face art.  

champion swimmer

My niece is an accomplished triathlete so we were lucky to have her on our team for the distance swim.

Our first event had my niece swimming out to a buoy in Lake Erie to grab a plastic bag filled with puzzle pieces.  puzzle solvingThe three youngest members of our team had to assemble the puzzle before we could move on. 

justin ali and chloe word searchThen we were off to the Pelee Island School where we found a word search puzzle at the base of the flag pole with lots of words related to our family. We had to find and circle every one. 

icecream eating

My brother-in-law John the most senior team member working on his ice cream cone.

One challenge had the oldest member of our group downing an ice cream cone in under two minutes. 

bra tree photoPelee Island has a bra tree to promote breast cancer awareness and one of our challenges was to throw a bra up into its branches.  We decided to pose here as well for a team photo since we got bonus points for submitting interesting team photos. 

golf challengeThere was a golf challenge where we had to chip golf balls into hula hoops for bonus points cemetry runand a gravestone search in a cemetery where some of our Mennonite relatives are buried.

making zwiebachWe had a zwiebach challenge in honor of Dave’s Mom who made the best zwiebach in the world.  For my non-Mennonite readers zwiebach are buns that are two tiered.  We had to form them from play dohzwiebach toss and then toss them into a bucket some distance away. 

inuk shuk puzzleOur final challenge was fitting a big box full of painted pieces of wood into an outline to create an inukshuk within an alloted time.  solving the inukshuk puzzleWe figured it out with just seconds to spare. 

One of our other photo submissions was this one where we pretended to row a boat full of flowers

I happy to report that our blue team won the Driedger Amazing Race returning to home base a full sixteen minutes ahead of our competition. 

Other posts……..

I Did the Limbo on the Golf Course

The Driedgers Bike Boblo Island

The Driedgers Go Hiking in Arizona

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A Family Party

I won’t be blogging for the next week or so as we head off to Pelee Island where we will be staying in a place with no wifi.  We are having a huge family party with all of my husband Dave’s siblings and their partners, our nieces and nephews and their partners, our great nieces and nephews and our own children and grandchildren. Lots of fun family time awaits.

I’ve put together a book telling Mom and Dad’s life stories

The family party is in honor of my mother-in-law Anne Driedger and my father-in-law Cornelius Driedger who have both passed away, Dad just one year ago.  The party has been in the planning since we met for Dad’s funeral last June.

My father-in-law’s family on Pelee Island in the 1930s.

One reason it is being held on Pelee Island in Lake Erie is because my father-in-law lived there for nearly a decade after his family immigrated to Canada.  

This family party will honor Mom and Dad’s  legacy. I am really looking forward to it. 

See you in a week!

Other posts……….

Anne Driedger

Good Bye Dad

 

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