Drop Donuts

Drop Donuts


Seventy-three family members from nine states were drawn to Holiday Hills resort in central Kentucky for the Thursday to Thursday 65th McRoberts Camp-out Reunion having rented every townhouse, cabin, lake side houses, camper spots, looking forward to hugs, visits and drop donuts.

This week’s focus continues the importance of rituals begun in Treasures of a Unique Wedding; Indeed, rituals are the framework of families, providing security, confidence and family fun.  Young children, especially, depend on the repetition of rituals for security, but emphasizes the underlying bond-building benefits of reunion-rituals especially significant to our family because of mom’s refusal to allow a crisis to define/defeat us.  For new readers, a brief background.

In 1947, for no reason that our dad could ever come up with, he deserted Mom and our family of six which threw us into a situation that no one could have imagined would/could happen. Our older sisters, Jane and Shirley 18-20, shared an apartment and were employed in Columbus. We were destitute—no house, car or money.  In pickups, our little country church moved us 45 minutes to mom’s home town into a 3-room shack belonging to our maternal grandmother that had electricity but no water or bathroom and was scheduled to be torn down for a new dwelling.

Out of mom’s 14 rooms of furniture only two beds, a small bed, couch, chair, radio, desk and piano would fit, so the rest was stored in a shed also belonging to grandma.  Five of us, mom, David 6, Mac, 13, me 14 ½, and John nearly 17 shared the bedroom with a dresser and one small closet for our clothing.  Mom never mentioned the furniture sparseness but was confident that the piano was important. After moving in on a Saturday afternoon, we rode on Sunday with an aunt and uncle to their EUB church and attended bible study and church on Sunday. Immediately, we were embraced by a warm and caring group of people and incorporated into the strong youth group where we began to grow spiritually.

Although we were jammed uncomfortably together, because mom didn’t complain, neither did we. Mom had never worked outside the home but finding employment was crucial because dad paid no child support. We didn’t even know where he was. She never criticized dad, and didn’t apologize for what she couldn’t help. We trusted our quiet mom’s judgment implicitly. Little did we know that our situation became an opportunity for bonding as we became a team, replacing former sibling rivalry with cooperation, hard work and respect for each other as we assisted our mom in transforming a shack into a haven. We teens got jobs and mom found employment.  With new friends, church involvement and personal relationship and dependence on the Lord, our security was strengthened.

In the fifties as we graduated from high school and scattered to other states finishing college and seminary, getting married and having babies, living on shoestrings, sharing the same strong yearning to seeing Mom and each other that we sacrificed in doing whatever it took to gather at her home in Ohio around the same time.

To accommodate a couple of families at Mom’s house we made do with bed rolls for little kids and moved meals to the picnic table on her patio. Mom surprised us with a childhood breakfast ritual of drop donuts sprinkled lightly with powdered or granulated sugar, a German recipe handed down from her mother. The grandchildren were fascinated watching Little Grandma, as they lovingly called her, drop a scant tablespoon of dough into a small pan of oil where the donuts twisted a few minutes, then turned over, indicating that they were almost done. And observing our toddlers’ delight of biting into the strange small donuts without holes, licking the sugar from their lips and wanting a second one, brought back vivid childhood memories along with Mom’s usual soft reminder “Two a piece”. When several families would congregate at the same time, we’d move to plan B taking meals to the city park picnic area where the cousins could run, swing and play with balls while we visited.

As our families grew, we six siblings and our spouses took turns selecting a suitable place to meet, taking us to Boonesboro, Gatlinburg, North Carolina, etc. Most camping areas had pools, sometimes lakes, swings, hiking, waterslides, a ball diamond, volleyball and tennis courts. Jim always installed a huge blue tarp over several camper locations to provide shady and dry visiting shelter. Shirley’s husband, Ralph, kept a camp-fire going day and night. He brought a chainsaw to be sure of having enough wood.

As an upcoming camp-out drew near, Jim suggested that we serve drop donuts to the family campout crowd. Our camp-kitchen set-up would make it possible. We didn’t announce it, but Jim began frying the donuts and the aroma drew the family. Were they ever surprised and excited! From then on, Jim and I served drop donuts at every campout as a tribute and honor to Mom since she strongly encouraged family reunions and also introduced drop donuts. Her last reunion was when she was 97.

As a self-appointed historian, I kept took notes throughout the years, about where we camped, who came and what we did. Eventually I typed up a history and added updates about where, when and information about the family and new members and children.

This year we served donuts twice—David’s idea--the first and middle of the week so everyone would get in on them, not from a camp kitchen but in a townhouse that my sister Jane, Roger and Elaine and I shared. David (now the fryer) Roger and I the servers and as usual reinstituted Mom’s caution, “not more than two”.  Family units ate meals together establishing family rituals of favorite meals and cooks.

This year’s list of events included, fishing for adults and little kids; boating, hiking, golf, Suz’s sourdough making (a first) and my personality design. A ladies’ after-lunch gathering visitation featured Irish dancing and a song by 11-year-old Charlotte, David & Joyce’s granddaughter. The five Originals and their spouses (we lost sister Shirley two years ago) had a mini sibling reunion brunch.

On Sunday we rented a community assembly room where we had a covered dish, preceded by a group- photo followed by introduction of visitors and a few jokes. After a brief group worship service with singing led by nephews and nieces and a devotional by David—the youngest original sibling, and a solo by John, accompanied on the keyboard by his friend, Vivian. Following was an interview with one of the six ‘Originals’ turning 89 or 90, which, this year was my turn.  Mac interviewed me about my early years and Roger continued the interview covering the later years of Jim’s and my schooling, our ministry, parenting and my counseling and writing. Jane recited two poems. Each Original had a part. After I made it known that I thought my term as historian was up, a niece agreed to continue the flow of information with the help of her husband. That made my day!  Turning things over to 2nd and 3rd generations has been a wise move. Without a doubt, drop donuts will continue long after I’m gone.

Thus, 75 years ago without realizing exactly what we were doing, we began a valuable ritual of extended family reunions. The strong bond of working together cultivating love and appreciation for each other is still intact.  I cannot encourage anyone with any greater goal than to establish meaningful bonding rituals for your family.  If you do not have a family, join with a friend’s family. I’d love to receive your comments.

Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help…give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. Ps. 86:1,4 (NLT). God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Ps. 46:1 (NIV). Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…Eph.3:20-21(NIV).