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Family gathers to celebrate Maria Seinen’s 100th birthday

“Tomorrow I start again at one”
Maria Seinen blowing out the candles on the cake celebrating her 100th birthday. She was born Feb. 24, 1924 in the Netherlands. (Grace Hols photo/Houston Today)

It was a full day of activities for Maria Seinen Feb. 24 when family and wellwishers gathered to celebrate her 100th birthday.

A morning reception at her house was attended by approximately 20 people and 52 family then attended an evening gathering for a dinner and program at the Rock Nest Camp.

“Family came from all over to help celebrate — including Mexico, the US, Alberta and various spots in B.C.,” said daughter Grace Hols.

A highlight of the evening was a fashion show with Seinen’s great grandchildren modelling her accomplishments as a seamstress over the years, a collection that included two wedding dresses, several graduation dresses and a sweater knit for her husband more than 80 years ago.

The sweater was made from wartime homespun wool and has never been discovered by moths, Hols noted.

When asked how it felt to turn 100, Seinen replied: “Tomorrow I start again at one”.

Born in Groningen in the Netherlands on Feb. 24, 1924, Maria Lubbelinkhof was one of six children, three boys and three girls. Her father was a foreman on a farm.

After marrying Albert Seinen in 1947, the couple decided to move.

“After the war we couldn’t buy any land or even a house in Holland. My husband [Albert] wanted to be a farmer but he couldn’t buy land because there was nothing for sale,” Seinen recalled.

“We heard about Canada through relatives of my husband and so we came [in spring of 1949] across Canada to Houston.”

At first the couple lived in a logging camp where Maria cooked and Albert was a faller.

From family stories, Hols said the couple lived in a tiny cabin with a leaky roof. Her mom opened up cardboard boxes, nailing them to the walls for insulation. She then hung photos on the cardboard of family back in Holland.

Seinen said she and Albert built two houses, one in town and one later on the farm.

“We had six kids, so we had a big garden. It was different in those days with no electricity and only a hand pump for water. We tried to live off the farm, so we always had meat and milk and eggs and vegetables,” she said. “But not much fruit, not even a banana and for sure no pears or oranges in winter. I remember I would give everyone a slice of turnip from the root cellar for a snack.”

Seinen emphasized that the family worked together to make a living on the farm, building a dairy business they called Alma’s Dairy. The name was taken from the first two letters each of Albert and Maria.

Seinen remembers there was not much to Houston when they arrived in 1949, hardly any buildings were painted and there were just two stores, Goold’s and Koning’s.

And when comparing Houston then to Houston today, she said people were much more together.

“We all worked together to help each other out,” Seinen remembers.

The family grew over the years. In addition to the six children, there are 19 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.

An active church member and a person who has a strong faith, Seinen said the secret to a long and happy life is to be “always satisfied with what you have and to make the most of it.”

The couple never thought once about leaving Houston.

“My husband never once talked about going back to the Old Country. We loved the mountains and the people and I was never homesick. A lot of the people here were in the same boat; we were all starting out and we all helped each other,” she said.

Seinen still lives in her own house just outside of Houston and has daily and much appreciated help from home care attendants, family and church members.

Looking after more than two dozen house plants keeps her busy as well as doing word puzzles and occasional knitting and crocheting projects.

Husband Albert passed away in 2014. They were married nearly 68 years.

About the Author: Rod Link

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