Thirty years ago, Daniela Bremmer moved from Germany to Lacey with her husband, infant and toddler. Her husband had been transferred to what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Although she had her immediate family with her, she was leaving her extended family back in the Rhine Valley of central Germany, and she had yet to make new friends in Lacey.
“I had a baby in my arm, and a toddler on my hand, and felt homesick and uncertain about this unfamiliar place — and the future,” she said in an email prior to this year’s gathering, which took place Sunday.
But that was about to change. She decided to apply some German traditions by inviting women she met to her house for an annual German coffee, or “weihnachtskaffee.”
“It helped me to make friends and to understand American culture,” she said.
Not only was this year’s gathering the 30th year, but it also was a little different, Bremmer said. Tradition has dictated that the host prepares everything for her guests, including the baked goods, she said. But with her husband in the hospital, her friends stepped up and each brought a dish. They also sipped Gluhwein, a spiced mulled wine served hot.
About 10 women met this year, although Bremmer said she has had as many as 15 at one time over the years.
Sabrina Sheppard has been coming for 29 years, she said. Thirty years ago, Sheppard moved to Lacey from Vancouver, Washington. Sheppard and Bremmer later met at church.
“It has meant the world,” said Sheppard about meeting every year. “It makes us feel special to come together.”
Sandy Nelson and Viola Marx, both from Germany, also are longtime guests.
“I love the insight that we share,” Nelson said. “It makes you value each other more.”
The gatherings also are a time to reflect on the good things that have happened in the past year, she said. Nelson said she recently celebrated the birth of her third grandson, Axel.
Viola Marx, whose father was named Karl Marx (she questioned why his parents did that to him), said she was thankful her adult daughter still likes to spend time with her mother and father.
Bremmer said that some in the group don’t see each other any other time during the year, which adds to the occasion.
“It’s my gift to them,” she said.