Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Cards Light the Memories

I've been doing a few Christmas cards a day.  The pile of envelopes has diminished to the 20s, and it might grow cuz invariably cards will arrive in the mail from folks with whom I've never exchanged.  So, I'm ready. 

Or, at least I think I'll be able to handle the extras.

Yesterday I started picking cards from a new batch.  After finishing the note in the first card from that stack, I tried to put it in the envelope.  I tried for several minutes, only to have the envelope rip down one side.

I don't know what happened, except I do know those cards are not going to fit in my remaining envelopes, already stamped and addressed.  

And since cards cost less per unit than stamps, I'm not redoing envelopes.  Fortunately, there's another stack of cards which do fit in those envelopes.

Every year, the Christmas card project rivals only cookie baking as the most time-consuming aspect of pre-Christmas.  

I have to push myself to sit down every day with my box of envelopes, cards and Christmas letters because, of course, I have to write at least one sentence in each card.

The process is almost like a story assignment.  It's there.  It gnaws at you.  You know you need to get started, but you usually dabble with other urgent items rather than sit down and plunge into it.

Christmas music helps inspire me.  So, I fire up a CD and go sit with my pile.  One could call the annual Christmas card project a major headache, but like story assignments, the getting down and dirty part of  it elicits wonderful rewards, especially in the mind.

Every time I pick up a card to fill a certain pre-addressed envelope, images start flashing through my mind of this particular person or family and what they have meant to my life over the years.  

And, I don't use the term "life" lightly in this context. 

Take Pat Gooby, for example.  Neighbor from about as far back as I can remember.  An image of Pat comes to mind from 58 years ago.  

He delivered a pony named Tony, with a red bow around his girth to our farm on North Boyer.  If I recall correctly, Tony was my brother Mike's birthday present.  

Mike probably doesn't remember that too fondly because later he broke his arm after a fall from Tony.  Still, my memories of that day are vivid and positve.

That was probably the first time I had ever met Pat.  Over the next 58 years, as with all the Gooby's,  I've seen Pat numerous situations.  How could I ever forget when he worked with our school groups to sell Gooby's Beef Sticks!

I'll also never forget a conversation with Pat one day when we were still living on Great Northern Road.  Progress was eating away at our blissful, rural existence.  

We were lamenting the fact, and then Pat said, "At least we've had a whole lifetime of enjoying this place.  Think of all the other people who never get a chance to experience it."  

That comment registered, for sure, and until we were fortunate enough to return to a truly rural existence out here in Selle, I clung to Pat's rationale for dealing with the gradual erosion of our storybook farm life.  

Pat writes a funny letter every Christmas.  I haven't received this year's edition yet, but in his card from the Lovestead, I told him to be sure to come to a Bulldog basketball game cuz Willie is coaching.  

You see Pat's known me since I was 5, and he's followed virtually all 33 years of Willie's life.  

I've written another card to Jean Martin.  When I think of her, I think of horses and her downtown neighbor Guy Hesselgesser (Sandpoint's resident cowboy who looked the same for all the time I knew him).  

I also think of that beautiful old steam engine her dad used to show off in every Fourth of July parade with lots of family members aboard.  

I think of a time when Jean, Zelma Brisboy, my brother Jim and I walked our way cross country from Baldy Mountain to the lodge at Schweitzer.   

Her husband Jim dropped us off on Baldy and was there to pick us up when we finally came out of the woods at the ski area. 

Many lifetime memories have included Jean, including some related to teaching.  I taught her daughters and her son and later taught her grandson.  Jean's son James was in Bill's Boy Scout troop.  The stories could go on. 

Every year, it seems, I put something in her card or at least think about the day I might make it over to Priest River to see Jean's beautiful place.

Yesterday Jean read my posting about ski joring, and that brought up a memory for her.  

"When I was a kid we first used horses but then found out cars were even more fun," Jean wrote on my Facebook page.  "I remember dodging mailboxes along the Great Northern Road."

One of my Christmas cards went to Helen and Rennie Poelstra.  As with Jean, the promises to get together often dominate our yearly card exchanges.  Hasn't happened there either, but there's always hope.

When I was very young, we had a horse named Darkie.  Later, Helen owned him.  Darkie was the horse I rode when Mother would ride Largo and pony me behind on a trip to Jack's Lockers (down by where Jean lived as a kid) to get some meat.  

I included a story in my first book about the day I rode Darkie at a perpendicular position---for quite some time until Mother looked back and wondered why I hadn't told her that the saddle slipped and that I was riding sideways.

She may have forgotten that she had advised me earlier that she didn't want to hear any complaining.  I usually did what Mother told me.  

She commanded a high degree of respect from her children----and that's an understatement.  So, if I had to ride sideways and keep my mouth shut at the same time, I did.

Helen and Rennie have been like family to us forever, it seems.  I could tell stories of Mother and Helen and others like Marian Wyman or Patti Hagadone taking off on daylong trail rides to the top of Baldy and back. 

I could tell also about all the years Helen worked with "Doc Eakin" and provided my folks lots of veterinary guidance.  

And, then there was the gift Helen gave one Christmas in a big box with a red bow.  This time it wasn't a pony.  A little blond cocker spaniel named Fritz jumped out.

Yup, those Christmas cards can be headaches, but they're also soothing and sustaining for nostalgic minds like mine.  I love to relive the wonderful past, and each card provides a perfect tool. 

So, I suppose I'll keep on doing them every Christmas and smiling while inserting each card in its envelope----if it fits, that is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the memories Marianne.