16 December 2017

And to All a Good Night

Last night, a bunch of rambunctious elves showed up at my house in South Carolina driving a new, dark blue, Jeep Grand Cherokee with temporary Virginia plates.  They said they were here to set up Christmas trees in all of our ancestral villages.

I protested – I did! – but they bribed me with tin of pfeffernüsse, a brick of marble halvah, and a thermos of coffee. They said they'd do all the work, and they promised to take down all the decorations after the holidays and clean up so that you can get back to serious research.

It seemed like a fair trade.

How could I say no?

Looking around nervously to see if any of the neighbors were watching, I said, “Show me the cookies,” and when they did, I said, “Okay, you can come in.”

The pfeffers.

I put all their MAC addresses into my router’s whitelist. After giving them my Wi-Fi SSID and password, the elves quickly went to work. Some scurried about, chasing the cat (she thought they were well-dressed squirrels and chased them back), while others sat quietly around the dining room table looking Google Maps up and drinking coffee. It looked like a miniature Starbucks.  More than once, they giggled uncontrollably at where some of the trees ended up.

“No changing the coordinates,” I yelled from the living room, powdered sugar spraying from my mouth festively on the coffee table before me. They collectively sighed, “Awwwww!”


But, to their credit, they were especially careful with placing trees where villages no longer existed. It seemed important that those places – those special places – got special attention and were not forgotten.  They all gathered in the dining room to make sure it was just right and nodded in agreement before moving on.

Somewhere near Sari-Bash in Crimea, they asked me to ask you, dear readers, to take a screenshot of the tree in your village and share it in email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They want to see their Christmas trees in the places where your ancestors lived.  They don't care if it’s in a village or a city, on a house or on a road, in a field or underwater (you know what I'm talking about, Neu-Kolonie).

I nodded, and said, “Uh-huh, sure thing, yep. I'll ask,” while taking a bite of a hunk of halvah and sip of strong coffee and letting them melt together.

The halvah.

Hours passed. And by the time the elves finished their work, logged off, packed up their laptops in their Jeep, I was drifting head-long into a sugar coma. They wiped my sticky fingers, dusted the powdered sugar off my face and rinsed the thermos in the kitchen sink.

I heard them say in unison, “Frohe Weihnachten”

And then one said, “Hey, wake her up and ask her how to get to Edisto Beach from here!”

Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project!
Merry Christmas from the Germans from Russia Settlement Locations Project
(and a bunch of elves!)