Darlene Foster's Blog

Family is Everything

Posted on: July 21, 2015

11071564_10153267314708936_3092559696858088784_n[1] (2) A couple of posts ago I showed this picture of my great grandparents, Henry and Katharina Hoffman taken when they arrived in Canada in 1909. They came from South Russia with three children, had one on the way to the homestead in Alberta (my grandmother) and had seven more once settled. 11659330_398384047028968_6797137594108185426_n This picture was taken much later with the surviving children. My grandmother is standing, third from the right. 11659330_398384040362302_2468084364640730572_n This picture of Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather Hoffman at their 50th Anniversary, in 1954, shows all the children and their spouses. My grandparents are the second couple on the right. The only one still with us is Great Uncle Tony, married to my grandmother´s sister Ann. (First couple on the left) The descendants of these brave, hardworking people have been meeting every five years for the past 30 years at The Hoffman Reunion. The reunions are organized by a different family group each time. This year the reunion was organized by the Raymond Becker family, descendants of Great Aunt Lindina, one of the little girls on the original picture. It is a lot of work and they did a great job. I am so glad I crossed the Atlantic to attend.

Descendants of Henry and Katherine Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

Descendants of Henry and Katharina Hoffman at the 2015 reunion

It was so great to see all my many cousins, aunts and uncles.  We ate fabulous German food, caught up on news, reminisced, played cards and board games, looked at old pictures, shared hugs and ate some more. Being together was all that mattered.  Family pictures were taken and loved ones no longer with us fondly remembered.  I brought my 14 year old  grandson and my 8 year old great granddaughter, who had a fabulous time. I was able to take mom out of the nursing home for a couple of hours to attend. At 86 she was almost the oldest person there. 136 attended this reunion; out of over 250 descendants spread all over the world, that is a good turn out. The youngest was 11 days old, the oldest 91.

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter. We think they are 5th cousins

My great granddaughter with my cousin´s granddaughter, 5th cousins.

Mom with her brother and sister

Mom with her brother and sister

Great Uncle tony at 91 with some of his family

My Great Uncle Tony, at 91, with some of his family

A popular event, after the German meal and Hoffman Olympics, is the silent auction.  Family members donate items and others bid on them to raise funds for the next reunion in five years.  The bidding is fierce as everyone vies for cherished items such as hand knitted afghans, homemade wine, jams, pickles and many other treasures.  There is much friendly competition, no one gets hurt and most leave with something to take home.

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Hoffman Olympics sack race

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Emma making a home run at the baseball game

Fun and games

Fun and games

You can see my great granddaughter had a lot of fun and met many relatives she didn’t´t know she had.

Lining up to eat (again)

Lining up to eat (again)

Everyone takes turns cooking

Everyone takes turns cooking



Every time I attend these events, I feel so blessed to belong to such a large loving family that stays in touch with each other, no matter where we live.

Some of my grandmother´s family

Some of my grandmother´s family

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Sharing fond memories with cousins

Someone made a special cake Note: not all the pictures were taken by me. Some were taken by cousins!

39 Responses to "Family is Everything"

What a great story Darlene. I can’t even begin to imagine how much fun that was for you. Thank you for sharing.

It was so much fun and a great way to see many people at once. Many I only see once every 5 years. Love them all!

You are blessed with a wonderful family heritage and you realize it, so you are twice blessed. My Grandma Longenecker in PA had a neighbor named Harvey Hoffman whose steam engine was in high demand during wheat harvesting season.

Two years ago the Metzlers on my Mother’s side had a large reunion. You probably won’t know any of the people, but you might enjoy the art work here: http://plainandfancygirl.com/2013/06/22/another-valentine-a-different-romance/

Hoffman is a very common German name but I am sure if I could investigate, there may be a connection. Thanks for sharing your reunion story and pictures. Your history in North America goes back a long way and having 500 attend is incredible. Did I ever mention that I have a Mennonite cousin who lives in Chambersburg, PA? I would love to visit her one day.

I hope you get to visit that Mennonite cousin. Chambersburg is not far from where I grew up.

I thought that might be so.

That is truly remarkable, Darlene. I’ve never heard of any family having a reunion on that scale. The silent auction to raise funds for the next event sounds like a brilliant idea, and what an amazing connection to have to so many relatives. Good on the Hoffmans for making it happen every five years. I’m sure your great grandparents would have been delighted to know that their descendants met in this way long after they were gone. What a legacy.

It is a great legacy and I do hope it continues. Plans are already underway for the next one. My 8 year old GGD said, “I can´t wait to organize a reunion” so I guess we can be sure the next generations will continue this tradition. Thanks for sharing the post. ❤

That’s wonderful, Darlene, and it was my pleasure to share it. 🙂

And this is just mom´s mom´s side of the family. We do it on her dad´s side as well, just not as often.

I can’t begin to tell how I have enjoyed walking with you through the history of your family , Darlene . I think you all make a gigantic effort to keep the generations in touch and you are stil continuing to do so for further generations …three cheers for you all.

I´m glad you enjoyed our family history. I am so grateful we all make an effort to keep in touch.

What a special time Darlene. I love the idea of raising funds through the silent auction for the next reunion!

The silent auction is a lot of fun for all ages and provides some seed money for the family who will host the reunion in 5 years time. I donated a couple of my books this time and then signed them for the highest bidders.

How absolutely wonderful Darlene, my family only get together for weddings and funerals much nicer to do what you do.
Your great granddaughter is beautiful. xx

I am so pleased we do this. Mom and her cousins started it 30 years ago. GGD is lovely, inside and out. It was so good to spend some quality time with her and introduce her to the extended family

When my grandmother died, all of us cousins had kids in grade school and high school. They had a blast getting to know each other, while of course us cousins spent our time catching up the news. Grandma would have been so happy at the celebration of life at her memorial service.

I loved seeing the old pictures and new ones of your family! So much fun and I’m glad you & your cousins posed for a picture too. The one on the right smiles just like you.


I spent a lot of time with those two second cousins as I was growing up and we had lots to catch up on. You are right, Diane´s smile is like mine. I´m pleased you enjoyed the pictures both old and new.

How great to see all those lovely family pictures. And you are right: Family IS everything.

I don´t ever want to take my family for granted. We aren´t perfect but we have strong roots.

How wonderful to have such a large and loving family who actually stay together. We have that in common. 🙂

We are both fortunate to have large loving families.

That is awesome!

Thanks for the comment. It was pretty awesome.

That’s a lot of family! How special….

And that´s not the half of it!!

Wonderful – what a great family you have Darlene!

Thanks! I love them to bits!!

Nothing like family! The games look like lots of fun.

You know all about the importance of family Sheila. Thanks for taking me to see my Great Aunt! ❤

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since I read about your last reunion. I envy you and your family for keeping the contact with your relatives going. Good on ya!

I consider myself very fortunate to be part of a family that puts in a real effort to stay connected. The great grandparents encouraged it and it has continued. Thanks for visiting Heather.

Wow, that’s a big family, and it’s wonderful everyone turned up (even your mom got to attend)!

It is big and this is only a small part of it. The fact that mom could attend made it even more special. Thanks Claudine!

This is wonderful, Darlene.

Glad you think so too Patti!

I hope to have everyone together second week of September. Then head to Sears for that family portrait. You never know if it will be the last time for some family members.

So true. Best to do it while you are all together. Hope to see the picture.

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