Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Memories 

Sometimes Christmas memories take on the form of arguments. 
As the year I heard my eight year old daughter, Krysta, singing,

"Souvenirs  souvenirs!
  It's Christmas time in the city!" 
Her older sister, Deanne, was quick to point out the error. 
"It is not souvenirs.  It's silver bells!"  Deanne explained. 
Krysta was irked.  "It sounds like souvenirs to me!"

Listening to them, I was transported back to fifth grade in
Williams, MN.  Mrs. Johnson, our music teacher, put together
a beautiful Christmas concert.  We carried candles, walked up
the aisle of the gymnasium, and sang Silent Night
I remember trying to hit the minor notes in What Child Is This?
and the tinkling sound of Silver Bells.

Deanne looked up the lyrics for Silver Bells
As I read the words I thought of sixth grade at Williams. 
The concert the year before had caused a stir in the community. 
Some people objected to the hymns we sang.  In sixth grade we had
a pantomime featuring Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. 
No Christmas carols allowed . . .

And the debate continues . . .
to wish others a Merry Christmas . . . or not.

We hear about those who believe there should be no mention of
Christmas at all.  Christmas vacation isn't Christmas vacation . . 
it is the winter break.  Some want to throw Santa Claus and
the nativity scene into one bag and pitch the whole kit and
caboodle out the window. 

A commercialized Christmas is ironic.  There's the story of a couple
who drove past a church and noticed a nativity scene on the lawn. 
"Just look at that!"  she sputtered. 
"Now the church thinks they're going to get in on Christmas, too."

Thoughts of Jesus bring conflict. 
The Bible says,
"He was in the world, and the world
was made by him, and the world knew him not. 
He came unto his own, and his own
received him not."  John 1:10,11 

It stretches our minds to think of the Creator of the universe
lying in a manger.

Mrs. Johnson taught us the timeless beauty of old Christmas carols. 
This is a memory that can't be erased. 
Can you hear the angels singing? 
Can you see the shepherds dashing to Bethlehem? 
They found the stable and the animals. 
Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus were there
just like the angels said. 

We can be comforted this year when we sing Christmas
carols and tell our children the story of Jesus. 
He was willing to come to a world full of strife.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Mobile

Every now and then when I'm driving around on errands
the name of a book will come back to me from long ago childhood.
That happened to me this fall.

Taste of Spruce Gum . . .

The Taste of Sprucegum . . .
it doesn't matter -
that's enough to go on.

I don't remember the author or the name of the main character.  
I just know it is about a little girl.  I can still see the art work
in the book.  I stop in at the library in our town and ask the
kind librarian if it's still available.

It is - but if it wasn't she could have looked further and requested
it from a neighboring library system.  She requested it for me as
I rattled on about reading it a long time ago  when we used to
go to the book mobile.  She thought the book sounded delightful
and mourned with me that wonderful old books are being
weeded out of the library.

 On those long ago summer days when the book mobile was coming
we hurried and scurried to wash the dishes
and make the beds
and weed four rows of carrots in the garden
 (I'm just kidding)
then piled in our car and drove to Graceton.

The book mobile was parked in front of the little store/post office.
It was like an over sized bread truck or ice cream truck.
Gravel crunched under our feet as Mom and four daughters lined up
at the door.  There was a step stool at the door.  Step up - then a couple
more steps and we were in a book lined haven.

I don't know why I remember that book above many others. 
The author is Jacqueline Jackson and even though I reread it in October
I am sad to say the little girl's name slips from my memory again.
But that's just me.  People in my family accuse me of speed reading all
the time.  It's probably true.  When I finish a book many times I want to
start back at the beginning and read it again . . . a sure sign that a lot was
missed on the way through the first time.

Maybe the story stuck with me because it is set in a logging camp.
My dad was a logger in the wintertime when we lived up north.
We have lots of family memories of picnics in the woods,
heating water and food over many a camp fire,
and helping Dad during our spring break.

What books . . .
      or libraries where you found the books
                   do you remember from long ago?


Sunday, December 1, 2013

When our plans change

Ellis got two hunting trips to MT this year.  He was tickled to hear about
a new law that lets people who once-upon-a-time lived and hunted in MT
go back and hunt without paying expensive out of state license fees. 
The first trip was the end of October.  He went out by train.  But the main
reason he went to MT was to go to an auction sale.

A high school friend was planning an estate sale with his brothers
and Ellis found out.  These two haven't seen each other for 30+ years. 
That was a great reunion even tho it was a busy day for his friend and they
didn't get to do much more than get started on catching up.

And all of this is back ground info to let you know why I was planning
to drive to the train station in the twin cities on a cloudy, damp day near the
end of October.

The train comes in around 7:00 A.M. if it is on time.  I was going to leave
at 4:00 A.M. to avoid rush hour traffic.  Then I got an e-mail notice the
evening before saying the train was late by about two hours.  Ellis was
already on the way to Williston with his brother and sis-in-law. 

"We could have kept on hunting for a couple more hours!" That was the
first reaction to the news.  Now they had plenty of time to go eat and linger
at the station with loooong North Dakota good-byes.  Ellis got on the train
at 12:30 A.M.  The train was now five and a half hours late.

There was no sense leaving at four in the morning.  I got on the way
by seven, called Amtrak and heard the newest update.  The eta was
1:45 P.M.  I stopped to talk to the bus manager to see if there was anyone
to cover my bus route that afternoon . . .  and there was. 

Next stopped at Dad and Mom's place for a cup of tea and to chat with
Mom and Krysta.  Krysta stayed overnight at Grandpa's so she could get
to school.  As it turned out she could have stayed at home and I could have
driven her to school.  Dad came home from driving bus.  I knitted,
Mom quilted on Deanne's Log Cabin Quilt and Dad drew me a map
of a back way to drive to the cities to avoid all the traffic
and road construction of I 35. 

All of the delays reminded Dad of another time and another place. 
A long long time ago Dad and a friend were driving home from
Bible School.  There was a snow storm - a heavy, wet snow that piled up
and stopped the snow plows and stopped the traffic.  Before they knew it
Dad and his friend were in a long line of cars that were not going anywhere. 
There they sat.  For hours.

This was long before common ordinary people had car phones. 
No cell phones.  No computers.
No communication between Dad and his family. 
We were in WI waiting for Dad to arrive. 
I must admit I have no memory of waiting without knowing
what in the world had happened.  All of the adults in the household
let us play and put us to bed and fed us our meals.  It was a happy
three ring circus for all of us scalawags. 
Not so much for the adults.

I have come to the conclusion we are spoiled -- completely spoiled. 
The little things that make our days easy hadn't been invented back then.   

As an adult I have been in little situations like this where I didn't know
where in the world Ellis was - for about an hour or so. 
And then he returns or calls and there is great relief. 

This delay with the late train was like a picnic in the park with bright
sunshine and good food compared to being stuck in a snow bank with
no way to communicate and let loved ones know, "I'm okay!"

I could call Ellis any time I wanted.  We could compare notes on how
the day was going.  It wasn't going quite like we had planned but we
were able to stay in touch. 

I suppose I had the best end of the deal.  I could drive to Perkins,*
order a bite to eat, enjoy my soup and sandwich, and either read or knit. 

On the other hand, Ellis could sleep, read, go to the dining car for the
complimentary meal, work on Sudoku and visit with the neighbors if he
felt like it.  Not so bad either.

The train eventually arrived shortly after 4:00 P.M.
Dad and his friend eventually got plowed out and
continued on the way home.
Happy, happy reunions!

This was another time to remember that verse: 
In everything give thanks:
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thessalonians 5:18

*At Perkins I can recommend the tomato basil soup
       and the hot beef sandwich with cheese
            on sour dough bread.
          And the wild berry pie. 
I got the pie in a box to take with me.