Pioneer Potluck: About filling the memory jar. A sauna story.

Nikiski, Alaska 1986 to 1990

Building Christmas memories

Christmas Eve 2016


Memory Number One:

We once lived in a small log cabin with one bedroom, a very small bathroom and a kitchen living room in one. A woodstove kept us warm and cozy. We had a visitor that summer, Bob’s son. What one didn’t think of the other did! We had fun and laughed all summer long around the big bon fires down at the lake, built by Bob and his son. For some reason building fires occupied their minds most of the summer. The fire in the sauna woodstove was almost continuous. The warmth of the sauna steam soaking our bones was delightful.

This sauna cabin had a dual purpose. The front part had a washer and dryer, and a woodstove to heat the sauna, which was through a door into the cedar lined room with a one man Jacuzzi on one end. It had big powerful jets. The swirling warm water was very relaxing and we used it all the time. The first one in the sauna got the Jacuzzi first. This time it was Bob’s son, Mugs, in first.

After several in and outs to feed the woodstove in the outside room, Bob came back in with a big cup in his hand. He walked over and dumped the contents into the Jacuzzi containing his son, the big jets were going full blast. All of a sudden, billowing suds came up out of the tub, flowed over the edge and continued across the floor, like creeping lava. It reached the other end of the room and started building and building until the whole room was filled with soap bubbles. I still hear the laughter of both of them chasing and making soap suds mustaches and piling big cones of suds on their heads. I did not escape the suds pilled high on my head either. Then we began parting the suds to see each other. The whole room was filled to the very top with Amway laundry soap bubbles.

After rinsing off the best we could, we one by one, escaped the soap bubble room and crashed in our beds to sleep a perfect relaxed sleep, but not without one more comment about how fun the soap bubbles were.

The next day I went to wash clothes and took a peek in the sauna for any left over towels. I was met with big stalactite soap bubbles hanging from the ceiling. Three days later, those hanging soap suds were still there! Future sauna soaking was watched closely by me to see what Bob had in his hands as he entered the door! Does this tell you how we filled the long summer days of July and August? What fun and good memories.

Memory Number Two:

My memory bank is not full yet!

The year of 2016 brought lots of changes and filled more spaces in my head with more memories.

I started a memory jar two years ago. I have not been very good at putting my thoughts down on a small piece of paper and putting it in the jar. You are supposed to open it at the end of each year. Spying my antique green-blue memory jar that daughter Gail gave me – and the notes I had inside – not many, but notes anyway.

December 15th, 2014 – Susan called from Anchorage Dr. Office. They found not cancer cells. Thank You God…tears of joy!

December 16th, 2014 – Thank You God for the good Susan news yesterday!

December 17th, 2014 – Rain on ice – school canceled. Cleats on the feet. Ashes spread all over the driveway hill for traction.

December 19th, 2014- I made Mom’s cookies in remembrance of her birthday today December 19th. Thank you Mom for the cookie memories.

December 24th, 2014 – Had a great Christmas Eve get to gather with lots of good friends and relatives.

December 25th, 2014 – It snowed today to make a Merry White Christmas.

AND this is the end of my notes. I skipped all of 2015 and 2016 much to my sadness. So I am starting over writing notes to me and putting them in the pretty jar setting in plan sight so I can remember each day to be thankful for something.

My memory jar today holds a note from the 2016 Christmas Eve.

We had a big, big Bob bon fire with the help of son David delivering pallets to burn the day before.

I made chili, chicken noodles and clam chowder with ham sandwiches, also the day before while listening to Josn Groban, a wonderful Christmas CD sent to me by my forever friend I have never met in person, Pat in Louisiana. Another she sent by Mahalia Jackson is so beautiful.

Christmas Eve 24th, 2016: Special people arrived with bundles of gift to exchange and goodies to share. We all gathered in the Bob’s Cave with four little ones playing in the Cave Toy Box. The kiddo’s, Scotty, Galvin, Bralyn and little girl Braleigh, who holds her own around anyone, all shared toys and not one harsh word or crying was heard. The freindly adult jabbering noise level was high and exciting.

The men migrated to the big bon fire to find quiet because the chaos was just to much. Mom Jewel, Grandma’s Gail and Ky and Great Grandma (me), Aunties Susan and Ky and Uncles, Grandpa’s and Great Grandpa Bob drifted in and out. Friends laughed at all the antics.

Time to take the kiddo’s sledding! Snow suites and gloves take a long time to put on scrumming little ones. Boots on last and out the door they went. Grandma Gail got on the sled several times and had sledding wars with Uncle’s Grey and Joey. They all had one or two little ones on the sled in front of them, holding on to them tight. Screams and laughter could be heard to the highest star. It made the guys around the bon fire enjoy the laughter with clapping and comments of “that was cool” to “wish I could do that again!”

Our afternoon ended about 6 with everyone tired, happy and full of soup and cookies. They piling wrapped gifts in the vehicles and took off with memories of their own.

This memories will last forever for me – because, you see, I wrote this down while it was fresh in my memory back. In it goes in the jar! You can do the same!


The series is written by a 50 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more than 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.

She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.


Grannie Annie can be reached at


The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.

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