Cousins Breakfast

A significant phenomenon in retirement was Cousins Breakfast – CB for short.

Started about 30 years ago by Margaret Kroeker and Ruth Kroeker, they got the cousins together the third Saturday of every month to share their lives. I joined the cousins about 15 years ago.

Ho-hum, I sometimes thought. There must be lots of cousins that get together.

Not so.

I attended my first year of cousin meetings on Saturdays and told friends about my relatives on Mondays at work. I discovered that this was a unique thing. No one had cousin breakfasts.

My 26 cousins are the progeny of the children of my grandparents Abram Kroeker and Helena Wiens. The parents of the cousins were Helena and John Dyck, Jacob and Annie Kroeker, Tina and Henry Neufeld, Abram and Elizabeth Kroeker, and Peter and Susan Kroeker, five sets of parents. A sixth sibling was Nettie Kroeker, who never married and had no children.

Aunt Nettie loved all her nephews and nieces as if they were her own. I thought I was her favourite, but so did all the others. There were four from the Dyck family, eight from the J A Kroeker family, two from the Neufeld family, nine from the A A Kroeker family, and three from the P A Kroeker family. I am the youngest at 83, the third child of P A Kroeker.
For three decades the cousins met every month, sharing events in their lives, talking about their travels and proudly relating stories about the accomplishments of their children.

Most of the cousins have died. Only four are left – me and my sister Mary, Don Kroeker and Betty Thiesen. Betty lives in Arizona, so the CB era has ended.

All the cousins were born in, and grew up in Winkler, Manitoba. That was the strongest bond in our discussions around the breakfast table over the years.

Our spirituality was also a bond, although many of us branched away from the Mennonite Brethren Church, exhibiting diverse views on Christianity.

Spouses and partners of the cousins, even though they were in-laws, were adopted as bona fide relatives. Some cousins married second wives or husbands, who were welcome in the fold.

I left the Mennonite culture in my teens, moved from place to place and travelled around the world, but I always considered Winkler my home.

My Dad was a great one for visiting relatives and collected pictures of them, especially wedding photos. So I have wedding pictures of most of my cousins, and other pictures of a few more. Only three are missing. I hope to put them into a book called “The Cousins”.

Cousins Breakfast for me meant keeping in touch with my roots.

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