Family traditions are an interesting subject. The Amish as a whole have large families. My father-in-law, for example, comes from a family of 16 children. A tremendous amount of order and working together is needed to keep everything running smoothly in a big farmhouse, as such.
Each family has their own way of functioning together. While there are some families who prefer to stay home a lot and spend most of their time together as a family, there are also those who enjoy engaging in all kinds of activities, such as coming together at a friend’s house for supper, going to work bees or joining a friend on an open buggy on a beautiful fall evening.
In our family of seven children living in our ranch house, we did have crowded corners before any of us got married. Bedrooms had to be shared with each other as siblings. Since I was the oldest daughter, I was the one who had the little ones sleeping with me after they outgrew their cribs. Yes, there were times I felt quite ready for more peace and quiet, yet I loved them dearly and treasured the opportunity of being able to do this for them.
When I was 9, we children would often sing before falling asleep. The boys would sing in their room on the other side of my bedroom wall and then I would join in from where I lay in my bed. I loved these times; it was a highlight of my day. We sang some children’s songs along with various others. It was a relaxing way to lull ourselves into a peaceful slumber.
So in case you are wondering whether my brothers and I got along well or not, I freely admit that, yes, we did have our rough spots. With my not having any sisters my age, I spent hours with the boys playing, cleaning or even doing kitchen work. Somehow I got marked as a tattle tail or bossy. At any rate, looking back, I’m sure I overstepped my bounds in my role as big sister because I do occasionally remember being called “Mama Gloria,” which I detested. As I became older, I started praying more about my impatient nature and strived more to be a peacemaker with those around me.
Each morning before going to our little parochial school next door, we children had our morning work that needed to be done. Chores such as clearing the breakfast table, washing dishes, sweeping the kitchen and living room floors and picking up strewn toys were on the list of chores we hurriedly did before dashing off through the woods to school.
Suppertime was an excellent time for us to catch up upon news and various happenings. Dad would always wait to pray until everyone was seated and ready to eat. Common questions my parents would ask us were things such as, “What did you learn at school today?” or, “What devotions did you have at school?”
Mom kept our meals simple, yet tasty. Many of our meals reflected our bountiful garden harvests, whether it was fresh or frozen veggies or from our canning room. Just like her mother, she has a special art for attractively arranging and serving food. She delights in using her beautiful glassware for her guests. Anyone who comes to visit her house need not fear leaving hungry. She is always concerned that everyone is well-fed and satisfied. I remember Dad sometimes assuring her that we don’t need a large variety, as long as there’s plenty of the main dish. Today I’m still challenged by Dad’s unselfishness as he made sure we children always had the bigger or best piece of any item to eat.
One dish that Dad always enjoyed is one that Mom called “Raber’s Special.” The Rabers (Dad’s family) are known for their simple, yet tasty, casseroles. I have used both store boughten and homemade hot dogs.
8 ounces noodles
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound hot dogs, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1/4 cup salad dressing
In a large kettle, cook noodles and drain. In a saucepan, melt oleo and stir in flour. While stirring, slowly add milk. When mixture comes to a boil, add cheese and salt and stir until cheese is melted. Add this to the cooked noodles and pour into greased baking dish. Mix topping together and then add hot dogs. Put on top of noodles. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 6.