He moves a little slower now. But hard work will do that to a man. His joints creak now when he gets out of our double bed. But he has sinew on his arms, like rope stretched round an old post many times over. Losing none of its strength simply looking a little more worn. Hands that I’ve seen lift a 100 pound sack of feed as if it were a plaything, and yet wet a cloth to wash my face while I’m ill with the delicate ease of a doctor. You see the cowboy stars on television who perform seeming impossible shots with their western rifles. I’ve seen him fire a bullet hole in a bullet hole from a place so far away I couldn’t even see the cross mark. A man we know carries the target in his wallet , that my husband once shot as proof that he knows a man who can shoot ” a hole into a hole.” I’ve dreamed a dream up in my mind and said , ” If I wanted a shelf that looked like this and went here in this space, would you build it for me?” . And out of spare wood from the yard, and his pure imagination , he can build it, and stain it and make it a work of art. His boys think he is the strongest, tallest , smartest, best Daddy in the world. And why not? He’s taught them how to catch a fish with just a string, a hook, and a worm. How to walk tall in a world full of people who tell them differently. They know how to shake hands with a man when saying hello, and how to open a door for a lady. He’s taught them how to skip rocks, crack a Bible, kneel in prayer, and if need be, how to throw a punch. He’s told them you always love your Lord, your Momma, and your neighbor, and IN that order. I first laid eyes on him when I was 16, and told my friend, I’m gonna’ marry that man, and I did. He has been my light on some very, very dark nights, given me two amazing children, been my laughter when I am down, my lover, my strength on some days when I thought I didn’t want to go on anymore, and always, always, my BEST FRIEND. Today he is 48 , and I love him more now than I did that September day when I first saw him across the churchyard. Happy birthday babe, you are my everything.
It’s getting to be that time of the year again. The time of year when reasonably sane people lose all sense of power over their own mind and wallets. When they turn into people pushing , cart running over, that last item in the aisle is mine rabid 2 am Black Friday shoppers. Yep. It’s the holidays. I used to love the holidays. I used to love Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving because, it meant my Daddy was home, and he helped my mom make turkey and dressing. We watched the parade, and my sister and I ironed our clothes for our churches youth convention which was the day after Thanksgiving. Dinner was family gathered around the table , and then groaning on the sofa because you ate too much while watching television. After everyone napped for a couple of hours we went out in Daddy’s old pickup to look for the perfect Christmas tree. Daddy knew all the best places to look , so we got all bundled up , took the old chain saw and headed out . A cedar tree was usually perfect, , but a pine tree would work if you couldn’t find one. Short, tall , round , oval, we had to find the exact one that would fit in the space in the living room , and Daddy was patient always. Then we sawed down , and hauled home our perfect prize. To be decorated with popcorn strings, and paper rings. Homemade stars, an gingerbread men. Candies and shapes cut from last year’s Christmas cards. The big bulb primary colored lights, and of course loads and loads of tinsel. So Thanksgiving wasn’t about shopping ,and when Christmas rolled around it wasn’t about spending the most money on gifts either . It wasn’t about people’s personalities changing into these horrible troll like monsters with Wal mart buggies determined to run over anyone in their way. Christmas was getting new pajamas , and slippers. Receiving a warm sweater, and a cassette tape of Christmas music. Christmas was going to the elderly neighbors and giving them the gifts we had bought them , always handkercheifs for him , and leather gloves for her. He was a carpenter so he hand built us a wooden gift each year. A dollhouse, a wagon with blocks, a jewelry box, a checker set, wind up helicopters, boats, amazing things! His sweet wife always made some wonderfully tasty treat on her wood cooking stove, peanut brittle, fudge, chocolate chip cookies , divinity candy, all made to melt in your mouth. THAT was Christmas. Not all this shopping. Hurrying to and fro. A party every other weekend. So called “friends” inviting you to an event every night for the holidays. NO time for the family at all. I don’t want my children to remember Christmas by the gifts they received, but by the memories they made, and maybe, just maybe, the holidays will be their favorite time of year too.
When was the last time you got a letter via snail mail? (AKA the postal service.) I love to get real cards and letters in my physical mailbox. There is just something about it that makes my day. The surprise of opening the door of the box and there being a nice thick envelope with a greeting card. Or a long thin one with a couple of sheets of stationery in it, covered with elegant cursive. Or even just a small square envelope with a notecard in it.
I know everyone is totally into email, e-cards, e-newsletters and FaceBook, and these are fun tools. But I still send most of my correspondence through snail mail. I guess my thought is most people are used to just getting junk mail anymore. Unwanted sales flyers, catalogs for items they don’t need , and of course, bills, bills, and more bills! It’s a great feeling when you open it and see somethig unexpected like a note from a friend. Especially if it’s a note sent for no reason other than “just because”.
I still send all my Christmas cards by post , too. And I know it might seem like a lot of extra effort, but I hand write a different message for each card, instead of a generic, “from our family to yours” type thing. I know it’s probably not gaining me any extra “karma” points or anything like that, it just seems like it’s important to me to do that. Maybe it’s partly the fact that it is becoming a lost art, that it appeals to me. One of these days all our communication may be electronic, and I’ll be outdated. But I hope to hold off that time a little while longer!
P.S. Next time you want to brighten someone’s day, send them a card via snail mail. Bet it’ll make ’em smile!