at http://www.lewrockwell.com, 14 November 2003.
I was pretty lucky when I grew up in the 60’s in Germany since I had
both sets of my grandparents. The ones I lived with for a while had a
farm, bakery and vineyard while my other grandparents on my dad’s side
lived in the city – well, small town would be a better description. But
I considered it ‘the city’ since it did not resemble my small village.
It was pretty exciting to visit my Oma and Opa on the weekend, because
not only did they live close to the small train station, but Opa also
had a pretty cool garden nearby that we went to visit a lot during the
My grandfather worked for the railroad, so he knew a lot about trains
and engines, the times the trains arrived and departed and all the
other neat stories that only train people know.
My grandparents rented a good size apartment on the outskirts of town
in a building that looked like a large villa. The hallways were long
and narrow with squeaky floors. It had a peculiar smell of linoleum and
bees wax and fresh green beans. There was a patio at the end of the
hallway covered in glass with lots of sunshine streaming in throughout
One of the main rooms – as in most German households – was the kitchen.
It had its usual wood-burning stove, a big table in the center, a
buffet and a sofa so Opa can take his afternoon nap.
There also were some interesting wall plates hanging above the sofa
which later became my focal point when I could read. One in particular
stuck out because of its interesting saying. It read:
Alle Tage ist
Alle Tage gibt’s kein Wein
Aber du sollst alle Tage
Recht lieb zu mir sein
translation would go somewhat like this: Every day there is no Sunday,
every day there is no wine, but every day please be kind to me.
Every time I remember this saying I think back to the days I spent with
my grandparents in the ‘city’ and enjoying the traditional Sunday
It was a nice get-a-way to go to town and shop with Oma at the butcher
store for fresh meat on Saturdays. My brother and I would always get a
piece of sausage for a snack. Then we’d stop at the bakery store to get
our usual bread, rolls and pastries for us kids. Sometimes she even
took us to a café where she had her coffee and my brother and I had a
delicious hot chocolate.
Cafés are really neat and quaint. The hushed atmosphere can be
relaxing. People talk and visit but with quiet voices. Coffee is served
on a tray with a doily in small coffee cans and cups and saucers. Cute
little milk cans and wrapped sugar cubes make the whole presentation
seem like a little girl’s tea-time set.
If we got lucky and we ended up at grandma's on Friday, we would go to
market and see pigs, ducks and chicken being sold right next to a fruit
or vegetable stand. It was a colorful and noisy day, and my grandma
would run into acquaintances at one point or another during her
shopping experience to show off her grandchildren.
Saturday is cake day. I don’t think there was a single household in
Germany that didn’t bake their Sunday cake on Saturday. With eager
anticipation my brother and I waited for Oma’s signal to let us lick
the sweet dough off the wooden spoon with an extra finger dip into the
bowl when she wasn’t looking.
Part of Sunday preparation was sweeping the streets, mopping the
floors, dusting or washing windows, which was all done on a Saturday
afternoon. Most shopping for the weekend had to be taken care of on
Saturday as well, since stores are closed on Sundays.
When bedtime came around I usually ended up in the middle of my
grandparents’ bed. Oma always had the same ritual of telling me the
fairy tales of "The Wolf and the Seven Goats" followed by "Little Red
Sometimes my grandfather would put in his own commentary and change up
the story a little, which always made us laugh so hard. Later on I
realized that even though I enjoyed the stories told to me, it was the
voice of my grandmother that sounded so soothing and reassuring to me.
After the stories we had to say our good-night prayers and I had to
recall every relative and family member for a special blessings. My
grandmother made sure we wouldn’t forget this important part of our
I liked their bedroom, because the flowery curtains she had on her
windows looked like faces to me, and I always tried to find a new face
in the patterns. Very entertaining indeed when one lies there waiting
to get up for breakfast on Sunday morning.
She also had this beautiful picture on top of her bed that looked like
it was from the 40’s era with a baby lying on a pillow while the mother
lovingly gazes at her curly-haired child. Two small cherubs peeked
through the dark silk curtains in the background with smiling faces.
I loved that picture so much. I don’t know what happened to it in later
years, but the impression this picture had on my young girl’s mind
lasts to this day. I could only see total adoration and love in the
eyes of the mother.
Sundays are special throughout Germany. Most people don’t work on
Sundays. It starts off quietly, since hardly any cars or trucks are out
on the street in the morning. Oma would fix us hot chocolate and serve
her regular bundt cake. It was quite a sweet ‘awakening’ considering
the amount of sugar we got, but it was after all a Sunday, and had to
be different than the everyday Monday through Saturday where bread,
butter and jam are the norm.
We all dressed in our Sunday clothes. Opa and Oma both would wear hats
to church, and I remember that I even had a hat once myself. Sunday
Mass is different than on regular workdays. There is a festive feeling
It was also nice to visit another church occasionally. The figures and
statues on the side altars can take a while to discover all of their
fine details. Especially for a kid it was great to look at the
paintings, since I had no clue what the priest was preaching on. I used
my time by checking out my surroundings and as always used my
imagination to picture the life of the Saints and Jesus Himself; and I
was always mesmerized by Mary’s beauty and grace.
By the time church was over, we had to rush home so Oma could check on
her roast. We usually had roast with potato dumplings and creamed
Chinese cabbage or green beans and salad. Opa would turn on the radio
to listen to brass band music, while I tried to help my grandmother
with her potato dumplings (I still haven’t figured out how to do them
After dinner we often took a walk through the town or in the park, and
if family or friends weren’t coming over to visit, she’d still set the
coffee table with a tablecloth and her fine china. I loved the smell of
coffee brewing. Sitting down for cake and coffee in the afternoon is
one of the most relaxing experiences in Europe. I consider it almost an
art form and it is similar to the English Tea Time.
People invite each other over for visits on Sundays to catch up with
each other while sitting around the living room table (used probably
only on Sundays) with fine porcelain cups, saucers and a white
tablecloth, candles and sometimes even flowers.
Sundays are certainly a day of rest when I was growing up. I was able
to distinguish the difference between work days and rest days. It
brought a break into the mundane everyday life. Even the food that was
being served that day would be different and special.
I lost this sense of a holiday for a while when I came to live in the
US, but have since then regained a fresh understanding of what a
holiday represents. Its divine law as outlined in Genesis that man is
to rest on the seventh day has found a new meaning in my present day
I now consider traditions and rituals as a form of silent
communication. Their actions seem to transmit a message to man’s spirit
that can bring forth a profound depth and understanding to his everyday
existence if grounded in the truth of a law that furthers the
betterment of his character.
The Sabbath law is wisdom in action.
I have seen in my personal experience that adversity is hard labor. All
six workdays are a struggle to extract a living from the soil. Both of
my grandparents and parents had their hardship in their lives, but on
Sundays they regained a new perspective on their lives and were able to
enjoy the fruits of their labor. Its observance celebrates life and
overcomes the daily challenges of the week.
I have finally recognized that a divine law does not restrict but
brings forth a growth in man that leads to maturity. Adversity is part
of this process. Yet, I seem to notice how many laws in the books are
dead and lifeless. They represent no meaning, because their creators
want to eradicate adversity and diversity. I see these laws as
babysitting the immature. They want Sundays everyday rather than labor
for six days and use adversity and differences as a tool to bring out
the best within themselves.
I challenge any lawmaker to evaluate their laws to see if they restrict
man and snuff out every bit of liberty or if they further growth.
My grandmother’s wall plate expresses a true statement in a sense that
every day cannot be a Sunday, and every day cannot be wine, but
kindness and love should rule the life of men. The labor of every day
is needed as much as the day of rest to accomplish this balance.
I appreciate the understanding I’ve gained through this experience,
because daily adversity has brought alive the important meaning of
respect and honor for self and others. A good law can create good
character in all people. But most of all, it allowed me to value life
with its ups and downs.