A Gracious Plenty: Lessons from a German Grandmother

By Al Strohschein

Growing up on the farm in Beaver Dam I lived next door to my paternal grandmother Minnie Strohschein. I saw my grandmother every day. She was widowed at the height of the Depression in 1934 and never remarried. She lived 48 years as a widow, and did not have indoor plumbing until she was 77 years old. She was raised in the Wisconsin Synod and rarely got to church. She listened to the Lutheran Hour “religiously” and always caught the radio broadcast of the services of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Beaver Dam.

Favorite memories include eating around her kitchen table, making rhubarb sauce, and watching the setting sun on her front porch on warm summer nights after chores. We never put the Christmas tree up until December 24th and then celebrated the full Twelve Days of Christmas. Grandma Minnie insisted on a Christ-mas goose for our noon meal on Christmas Day. Our Christmas dinners always had the savory scent of goose, with crisp skin and delectable apricot stuffing. The stuffing loaded with apricots, apples, onions and celery soaked up much of the goose grease, and what was left made a great base for the tasty, albeit greasy gravy. My brother and I can still taste the goose and apricot stuffing when we think of our Christmas celebration.

When we passed the dishes around the table for a birthday, holiday, or just a family meal after a day of labor, Grandma Minnie would insist on only taking a gracious plenty for her plate. A good meal with family and friends was Grandma’s way of sharing the bounty that God had blessed her family with. No one left Minnie Strohschein’s home hungry. We celebrated her birthday every March 24th. Today March 24th, 2018 she would be 133 years old.

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