Submitted by Susanne Bacon.
I can’t remember when I had my first encounter with the website of German Girl in America on Facebook. It might have been as early as 2014. Ever since I have been checking out the blog on the internet, and over the years, its creator, Karen Lodder Carlson, and I have become friends. Unfortunately, we have only met virtually yet. But my daily life has gained a lot just by seeing her mindful and deeply interesting, humorous, and sometimes even yummy posts – a site that is never a downer. Guaranteed! No wonder, she has a following of over 81, 000 people around the globe (and that’s only the “Likes” on her Facebook page).
Karen’s father emigrated from Germany to the US (via Canada) to eventually found his own nursery. But first he was drafted and sent back to Germany as a language instructor. There he re-met a former teenage acquaintance who made the leap and threw her fate in with his. Karen was born in California but got to visit Germany quite a few times as a child and teenager. She grew up in a household that was as German as can be in the US, with a circle of German family friends to boot, and, in the end, founded a family of her own.
“As a mother of three, I baked a lot for school functions”, says Karen. “People would ask for the recipe, and there I was copying it out every time. ‘German Girl in America’ started when a friend introduced me to blogging as a way to get my creative juices flowing and to make sharing recipes a bit easier.” That was in 2014. And Karen’s blog is so much more than German recipes. It’s about childhood memories, German pockets in the US, German history, reviews of books by Germans and on Germans, even a German shop, and travels to Germany.
Last year, in the year of German-American friendship in the US, Karen was chosen by an organization to travel parts of Germany less known to Americans and to blog about her trip. Her impressions of the German Emigration Museum in Bremerhaven, the city of Münster, and even Weiberfastnacht, a carnival event, in Cologne were beautifully documented with loads of attractive photos. That was when the German Board of Tourism hitched up with Karen to send her on a trip to the ancient city of Quedlinburg while she was traveling in Germany with her family anyhow. The arrangement suited both sides so well that it has become an ongoing one – except that during Covid-19 times there is no thought of traveling anywhere, of course.
Covid-19 lies at the bottom of another inspired project that Karen is in on currently – talking about making lemonade from lemons! Another German-American friend of mine, blogger Angela Schofield (https://alltastesgerman.com/), had come up with the idea that if all Octoberfests worldwide are cancelled, why not create a Webtoberfest (https://webtoberfest.com/)?! She contacted Karen, who was working on something similar. Currently, they are working hard on partnering up with all kinds of organizations, companies, artists … you name it. “There will be a Trinkhalle (Drinking Hall) with tastings and beer to order for delivery to your home. And partners will have German foods available for you to eat at home. There will be online music from lots of German bands and videos of dance groups performing. You will find merchandise like Steins, traditional clothing, cuckoo clocks, and more. In the travel hall, there will be travel agents showing off tours for NEXT year.” And there will be lots and lots more to explore.
In the end, the kitchen table has served out its time as Karen’s blogging workplace. Last week, she finally moved into an office of her own. Blogging has become almost a full-time job for her. Karen, who has a history degree by the way, has amongst others volunteered managing youth soccer teams – meaning she is absolutely capable of herding feral cats and incredibly versatile. A paper calendar and pen help her juggle the immense schedule that has accumulated over the years. And between Facebook posts, Monday newsletters, new blog posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Webtoberfest, and her job obligations, I’m pretty sure she is sometimes dreaming of leaning back on Heiligabend, which is Christmas Eve, her favorite German-style holiday, with a glass of Glühwein in her hand and Christmas music with her family. Meanwhile she keeps herself busy and her followers happy, inspiring reminiscences of their own.