Last Updated:  7  March 2001

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Plus, a COFFEE CAKE  Recipe



in Montana in the mid 1920s - 1930s

written by Lillian Hein Remmick

 Copyrighted 1991

 All rights are reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission. Published by Remick-Hubert Corp.221 Main Streeet, Suite 1300, San Francisco, California, 94105

[page 141]

Christmas was a wonderful time at our house.

The time I remember best was when we lived in the rambling old log house which- my brother has informed me- used to be the Lone Tree Fort. Right after Christmas we would start to save the foil from my Fathers tobacco containers which would be used the following Christmas to wrap the walnuts to hang on the "wiehnactsbaum [Christmas Tree].

We would knot store string around a walnut and then crush foil around the walnut over the string thus making a silver ball to hang on the tree.

About a month before Christmas we would receive our parts which we would play in our church program on Heiliger Abend (Christmas Eve) in our small community all German church.

No one was too young or too old to take part. The very small would have only a few lines while the older children would have long recitations or dialogues. The choir would sing special German Christmas carols.

We would go to church on Saturdays and sometimes in the evenings to practice our parts.We always had new clothes for Christmas. Mother would sew our dresses.

One year Father came home with a whole bolt of plaid material so all of us girls had plaid dresses that year.

During the week before Christmas some of the elders of the church would bring into the church a beautiful evergreen tree so tall it nearly touched the church rafters. This tree they would decorate with many lights, tinsel, and other decorations using ladders to reach the top where they placed the christmas star.

I loved that tree and I'm sure the other children did, too.

The elders would also purchase a variety of nuts, candies, oranges, and apples. Using large brown paper bags they would fill each with mixed nuts,[page 142] candies, one orange , and one big shinny red apples. These bags of goodies were placed under the church Christmas tree for every child on Christmas Eve that attended services from poor to rich no differences were ever made.

In the mean-time Mother would be sewing up a storm and sing in time to the rhythm of the sewing machine pedal. She had a good voice and would often sing while she sewed. I loved it when she'd sing Russian songs from her school days in Borodino/Bess. S. Russia [U.S.S.R. ].

We made anise cookies and cut them in many shapes which we frosted and with a large sewing needle and store string we'd thread the cookies through the top and hang them on the Christmas tree.

I'm sure we must have hung other things on the tree but the walnuts and the anise cookies are a strong part of my memory because the sitting room, as we called it, where we placed the tree, would smell heavenly of pine needles and spice.

I used to love to sit near the tree on a window ledge and read as this was a quiet place and the tree smelled so good. I must confess I sometimes snatched a cookie off the tree.

In the central room on the first floor which was a very large room with a vaulted ceiling, which was probably used as an auditorium during the time it was used as the first school in the area, we hung garlands of red and green crepe paper from corner to corner tucked up to the ceiling in the center of the room. In the center as well as in each corner we hung an array of [page 143] large red and green paper bells.

Here we would play games when other young people came to visit while our parents would visit in the sitting room with both doors closed so they couldn't hear our noise.
cookies cakes

Then there was Mother's baking. She would bake plain bread, fruit bread, more cookies and kuchen (coffee cake). We also had pies and cakes.

The brick wall (which Mother called a Mauer in German) which was about ten feet long and armpit high in the pantry was said to have been a gunnery wall during our home's fort days upon which the men braced their rifles when shooting.

Mother had painted it and used it s a cooling place for her finished baked holiday goodies which would be lined from end to end at Christmas Time.

Then at last came Heiliger Abend (Christmas Eve)   star

[page 144]
[24th of Dec.]  In the late afternoon Father would take the steel dust pan and placing in it sugar and cinnamon would light it and walk about the house until everything smelled of sugar and spice.

We were usually too exited to eat much supper and then everyone except Father would dress up in their new finery.

Father always stayed home because his part, and one he loved, was to put out   all the gifts, which were never wrapped, under the tree.

Because we were a large family there was usually someone with some kind of illness and he/she/they  kept my Father company .

A note at this point. We were never allowed to address our parents anything other than respectively "Father" and "Mother" ("Vater" und "Mutter").


church So, most of us were off to church and traveled across crunchy snow on a very cold Montana night.

Sometimes it would be snowing and other times so cold and clear that sounds would travel great distances. On some nights by the time we drove home the borealis (a show of dancing lights that would put any modern fireworks to shame) had filled the sky.

From the hills bordering the valley the yipping and howling of the coyote packs calls and answers would reverberate.



Now, we were in church and every child was proudly sharing in the Christmas program. Then after the minister gave the benediction each child received a large brown bag of goodies. They were chuck full to the top leaving barely enough room to be tied
Xmas Tree



Then home we went to find our gifts under the tree and another big brown bag of goodies. 


doll   drum   horse

We were very lucky children as we always received so much.




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