"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Christmas with Grandma & Grandpa Frank

by  Phyllis Zeck

Corinne & Robert Winike

Corinne & Robert Winike

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With 8 children in the house you can imagine the excitement that erupted on Christmas Eve.  We’d take turns sneaking down the stairs, (careful to make sure they didn’t creak) opening the door, and peaking out to see if Santa had arrived, then race back up to report to our siblings.

My sister Lori remembers “Christmas was always a magical time at our house! Christmas morning we would wake up to a floor full of toys under the tree that Santa had brought the night before. Later I found out that Santa started putting toys on layaway at our local toy store in August each year. Our grandpa, Gilbert, must have been on Santa’s Naughty list because EVERY year at least one of his grandsons would get a gift with some assembly required and one of his granddaughters would get some sort of cooking device such as an easy bake oven, and that poor man had to eat everything we made for him, which he did without complaint! I don’t know why he never learned his lesson and just behaved himself! Grandpa Gilbert’s favorite Christmas song was Silent Night. He said it reminded him of his mother and he would ask me to play it on the organ for him over and over again! To this day I think of him every time I hear it!”

While searching through my audio files from Auntie Phyllis’ interview, I stumbled upon an audio file of mom and grandpa Frank from 1983. Lori, Tony, and Steve were asking mom and Frank questions about their upcoming visit to Portland.

Grandpa Frank came into our lives in the late 1970’s and there was never a dull moment when he was around. Each year mom and Frank would come for a two week visit at Christmas time. Some of the fondest memories I have of Frank was him speaking Italian to my mother and using the phrase “Bada Bing, Bada Boom!”.  Those two week vacations flew by and our family would gather almost daily to gobble up as much time with grandma and grandpa as possible. 

                     Mom and Frank

Holly wrote “My favorite memories involve the excitement I felt leading up to them arriving. I couldn’t wait to see them! We didn’t have cell phones and long distance telephone calls were expensive, so there was a lot to catch up on and children change so much in one year. I loved seeing my boys enjoying time with Grandma Chicago (aka Grandma Pizza), Grandpa Frank, and Aunt Lori. A few times, when they came to see us they brought Italian beef and gravy from Lukes, oh boy was that a treat!”

Ashley remembers “Grandpa Frank always pretended to be asleep when it was time to open presents and all the kids would tap his tummy while he pretended to snore”.  Robin’s favorite memory at Christmas time was “being so excited for his parents to come home so they could race up the hill to the Zeck house to see his grandparents. Then, we all wanted to see grandma laugh, so us kids choreographed a dance to the old Richard Marks song called Right Here Waiting”.  Lindsay enjoyed performing the Nativity Play the kids put together for everyone.

Below is a slide show to go with the audio that I have. (If you are using a wireless connection it might take a while for the video to load.) Click here to view on You Tube.

The first photos are of my mother Corinne and my father Robert. The last photos are mom and dad’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren along with our wonderful extended family. I wish I had some audio of my father, he passed away in 1970, but I am so grateful for this audio of my mother and Frank. I hope this clip brings a smile to your face the way it did to mine! 



2 Responses to Christmas with Grandma & Grandpa Frank

  1. 5 years ago by steven winike

    wow! they are as real in memory as they were in the flesh, loved and beloved forever! very well done!!!! 🙂

  2. 5 years ago by Anthony Winike

    GREAT JOB! at 2:13 of the video, There is a red Father Christmas on Lori’s head. That was on my tree this year, 33 years later. I also still have the little plastic light up Santa and Snowman we had in the archway between the Kitchen and Living room in Villa Park from the Seventies. I remember we always put garland around the arch and Mom had awesome musical bells that played different songs and lit up to the music.


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