Traditionally the month of May is noted for the actual beginning of real spring with blossoming trees, romance, Mother’s Day and here in Canada we also have Victoria Day, the first of our "summer" holidays to give us a long weekend to enjoy.
In our house May means that all our birthdays are finally behind us (thank you for all the good wishes), Easter has come and gone with too many eggs, ham and sweets, and serious planting can take place in the garden to make that space behind the house an outdoor living room.
Just as the first blossoms broke open on our favourite bush the temperatures climbed to 25 degrees Celsius that one record-braking day in April and allowed us our first sunny and warm lunch in the garden. This was the most therapeutic and outright soul-resurrecting day so far this year. May will hopefully serve up many days like this to refresh body and soul, making up for the long and dreary winter we left behind.
May holds special memories for me for several reasons, one of which is of course Mother’s Day. I put my sentiments into words in poetry (in German). Some of you might relate to my memories.
And then there is my wedding anniversary. 35 years ago Rolf Rentmeister, the best of all husbands, so it turned out, and I tied the knot in Germany on May 20th. It was a turbulent day we will never forget, at least not that first one; but we have been known to miss the anniversary of it by a couple of days lately. Perhaps we remember this year the correct day?
All you newly weds probably think: gosh, 35 years! And then there are those that can count many more years and think of us as barely married. All I know is that these years went by very quickly and that we spent them happier than most people I know. In fact, I know that all our old friends from Germany are no longer married. Some of them are already divorced 3 times! That makes us a most unusual statistic for our generation.
We were not only the first generation to get divorced much more frequently than any other before us, perhaps because it suddenly became so easy. We were also the original objectors and demonstrators against war, we were the Hippy generation with all the flowers and fumes everyone remembers. It has always been said those who lived that time cannot possibly remember. There are exceptions. We do remember and that solely because we did not only not inhale, we actually did not even light up, at least not that stuff, and we do not feel that we missed out on any of the fun of those times. I do declare I probably had more fun, mostly because I experienced it consciously.
That does not mean that I am a goody two shoes. Heck no, there was plenty of other trouble we could get into and did. But I am grateful that I kept all my brain cells together. I have always been an avid protester against that quick fix of anything with pharmaceuticals. And when it comes to our children I become outright passionate. How can we allow having our future so poisoned?
But I forgot that May is the month of romance, lily of the valley, and violets and May dances, May weddings and May anniversaries. And all of them are festivities with distinct rituals and customs. To uphold these customs is the desire of any cultural group. We pass on these precious habits like rare jewels. Here in Canada our German Canadian groups and organisations have added a few traditions of their own. After all, when in Rom, we do as the Romans, but we will never give up the basics, our staple diets of food and drink and how we celebrate our holidays.
To honour those who made noticeable contributions within and for the community the German Canadian Club Hansa honoured 13 couples and individuals at a 43rd anniversary dinner. Among those honoured was Dr. Richard Altermann, our friend and colleague, whose long career in the German newspaper business started long before we ever thought of creating a paper. In fact I learned most of what I know about the business first from him. Therefore it came as no surprise to us when we were told that he should be thus remembered for his many fine efforts on behalf of the community. More of a surprise, and actually quite unexpected was that this honour was also extended to my husband and myself. I am only 19 years in this field, the last 11 with our own publication.
This month we start our 12th year of service to the German Canadian culture and continue to build bridges between our people and those of other cultural backgrounds. We thank the Hansa Club for the recognition of our labour of love.
We can only hope that the traditions will live on for a long time.
I also continue to write a column for the Toronto Free Press paper about life in our fair city from a German perspective and recommend that you pick up your copy to see what is up in Toronto from other points of view. TFP has very strong political opinions to offer, which I often find to coincide with those in our community. Perhaps that is because the editor is Scottish?! I have said that I find the mentalities of Scottish and German to be frequently similar.
Until next time
P.S. And don’t forget to count the planes in this issue (paper version only) and send in your application to win a trip to Düsseldorf with LTU! Good luck!