I've mentioned a few times that we were having a family get together yesterday. My cousin Uwe, his wife Monika, and their daughter Nathalie are on vacation here from Germany. They're splitting their time between New York, Texas (where Nathalie was an exchange student a few years ago), and Chicago. We had a lovely afternoon with them at my mother's house, including lots of eating:
and a visit to the cemetery to visit our grandmother's grave:
There was also a lot of talking (mostly in German, so I only caught a fraction of it - poor Steve and John were utterly lost!) and looking at - and taking - pictures.
On my mother's side, here in America we have a very small family. I was the only child. In Germany, the family is huge. My aunt, Inge, had seven children, and at this point they have had 13 children. Add spouses in there, and every gathering is enormous! I've only seen members of my German family a few times, but I miss them all very much. Facebook has made it a lot easier for us to keep in touch with them, but it's not the same as being able to touch them and sit in the same room with them. Goodness! I'm starting to tear up about it.
I turned 16 in Germany, and during my trip, Monika was on vacation and took me sightseeing to a number of different places including the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen and Schloss Marienburg, a gorgeous castle. She didn't have to do that, but I really appreciated it. We became quite close, and during our visit yesterday, Monika hugged me so tight and called me her little sister. I was glad to be able to hug her back and tell her how much I loved our time together in Germany. Oh, here come the tears again.
I thought it might be nice to give Monika and Nathalie (who wasn't even born yet when I was last in Germany!) some of my jewelry. I thought American flag key necklaces would be great souvenirs of their visit:
They both put them on right away and gave me lots of hugs. Later I caught them sitting together playing with their necklaces and asked them what they were doing. They were turning the tube around and around, trying to find the beginning. I told them it started on the left side of the "star" section.
I'm glad I could send a piece of home back with them. They had presents for Mom and me, too - cross-stitched and embroidered table accents from my aunt. I'll post those another day once I have better pictures of them. (Hey, Mom... can you send me a few pictures of yours, please? Thanks!)
I'll finish up with a few more pictures. Here's Mom with Uwe:
and with Nathalie:
Here I am with my "big sister":
And, finally, here's a group picture:
I hope it's not another 27 years before I get to see them again! Maybe next time we'll be the ones to visit.
If you'd like to send your foreign visitors home with an American flag key, please check out my shop's key page. The flag tube on its own could also make a neat accent in a necklace or bracelet, and it's quick to stitch, so you could have it done before the 4th of July this Friday!