Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Christmas Card Day!

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."~ Norman Vincent Peale

"From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another. The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other." ~ Emily Matthews

"Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind; Teach us to be patient and always to be kind." ~ Helen Steiner Rice

I sat on the stool in front of her sewing machine and swung my feet. It wasn't fair. I had gotten all excited on the ride over there just thinking about them. Thanksgiving had passed and my birthday had passed, we only had a week left of school. I knew she had some already. I knew where they were. They were in the living room. Right next to her favorite chair. She would have the Metal tray TV table with a red or green swath of cloth and over that a doily made from her own hands. It was most likely right next to her chair so that she could look at them all the time. And there we sat, Jimmy and Frank on the floor and me and Trudy on the stool. Mary was sitting over on the cedar chest, I don't know how that happened. She was awful particular about her cedar chest.

There she lay in the bed with Mama sitting on the edge and Daddy in the rocking chair brought in from the porch. Reuben was sitting on Daddy's lap and Mary was holding Martha. She was saying how this could be the end and right at Christmas too she added. She had given some of them some stuff. I didn't think she would give me anything anyway so I wasn't really listening to her. She did kinda look sick. Mama had brought her some supper and she had sit up and eat a little of that. Maybe that's why she wasn't fussing, maybe she really was sick. I was almost sick myself from having to sit in her room when I wanted to be somewhere else.

Finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I just had to see them. I had waited all the way down there. I jumped up and tip toed over to Daddy. I knew he was easier to fool. I looked at the floor and tried to twist a little as I whispered to him that I had to go to the bathroom.

I knew I was taking a big chance. Grandma wasn't a woman to trifle with. She was particular about telling lies and a bigger NO NO was what she called plundering. I had just told my Daddy a lie and I was also about to be plundering but I couldn't help it. I just had to see her treasure. I just had to see her Beautiful Christmas cards.

Every year she would have them set up the same way. All facing her chair. Sitting on the TV table right by her hand. I had in years passed even seen her reach out and select one and hand it to Mama to read. Touching it so carefully. She loved her Christmas cards and so did I!

"Patsy" Daddy said, " straight there and straight back." I side stepped almost skipping, nodding my head, my bobby pin curls from this mornings Church services bouncing up and down. I was so scared by what I was about to do that I really did have to go to the bathroom. I twisted a little more.. "I really, really have to go!" I whispered not looking at Daddy.
"No plundering, Hurry back!" he said. I dared to look at him then and I thought just for a second that he was smiling.

Opening her bedroom door and stepping into the middle room I almost turned back. I had forgotten that she wouldn't have lights on in the other rooms. I was scared of that big room in the middle of her house anyway. She called it the guest room. I ran through it and opened the bathroom door. Finally I could see a little bit. I had just one more door, but my fear was almost more than I could stand. I hurried and used the toilet just in case. I knew now I had to hurry. I couldn't waste another second.

I slowly pushed the Bathroom door open and stepped into the darkness of the spooky middle room. Closing the bathroom door behind me I hoped that if anyone looked they would only see the closed bathroom door and think me to still be in there. I quietly tip toed to the door that I knew was hiding the things I most wanted a peek at. I prayed with all of my ten year old heart that the door wouldn't squeak. I Looked around the middle room to be sure no one was watching me. I looked back at the bathroom door wishing I could have left it open. The tiny light that Grandma kept on all the time, suddenly seemed much brighter than it had ever been before.

With my hand on the final door I almost turned back. I would get a whipping if I got caught. I had lied to Daddy. I felt bad about that! With a deep breath, I pushed open the door into Her living room. Oh My Lord! There they were right where I knew they would be. They wasn't a light on in here either but the small gas heater she heated with was giving off a rosy glow in this room. I wanted to touch one, But even I wasn't brave enough for that. I stood there what could have only been seconds but it felt like a year. I just stared at the beauty of her Christmas cards. There was one with a red bird on a green branch. He had snowflakes on his feathers. I could almost imagine him shivering in the cold. There was one with a Church that I could have sworn I heard singing coming from. There were so many that year. Seeing the card with the nativity and the wise men reminded me that I better get back to Grandma's room. I would hate to get caught having told my wise Daddy a lie.

I ran across the middle room. Scared now, not of getting caught but just of the dark. I was satisfied that I had gotten away with the lie and the plundering. I had decided to say that I had took longer because I had drank a swallow of water. That sounded good to me at least.

I eased back into the room where everyone else was and no one said a thing. Mama was crocheting. Grandma was laying back in her bed and Daddy was rocking Reuben and watching The Lawrence Welk show on Grandma's tiny Television. It was as if I had never left. We stayed a little while after that then left for home. Daddy and Mama talked on the way home about Grandma and how she was sick but I couldn't listen, I was too busy thinking about the beautiful Christmas Cards. I wished on a star that when I got grown I would get some cards like those for my very own.

Grandma always had beautiful cards from her friends and from her sisters. Her sister Margie always seemed to send the most beautiful ones. She always sat them up on a table in the living room for everyone to see and admire. Or maybe even just so that she could see them and admire them herself. Either way she started me on a habit that I still have. I love Christmas cards. I have never thrown one away. I have boxes full of them that have been sent to me over the years. I used to drag them all out every year and hang them up on the inside of my front door. I still display any that I might get in my living room till after Christmas.

One day many years after the night I crept into the living room to see them, Grandma handed me a card box. I had grown up and even had Anthony by then. I opened the box and couldn't even begin to think of anything to say. The box was full of Christmas cards. Some of them many many years old. I reckon maybe someone did know what I was up to that night when I was ten years old. I still have Grandma's cards. The shivering redbird remains one of my favorites. I will get a few cards this year. Fewer than last year I'll bet. People don't send cards much any more. The Internet has made it to easy to just e-mail a holiday greeting and be done with it.. No stamps to buy.. no trip to the card shop.. No cards to set up on the mantel or on a Grandma's TV table. No beauty to catch a child's eye and bring to them for just a moment the pure wonder of Christmas!

Today is Christmas card day. It is celebrated every year on December 9th to recognize Sir Henry Cole (1818 - 1874) of England. He created and sold the first commercial Christmas Card in 1843. Just a few years ago, sending Christmas cards through the mail was a holiday tradition. People would try to get them out early. Sending cards through the mail is still very popular. The cost and time for writing and sending cards has caused many people to stop sending them. Free Ecards have made it easier to just send them on-line. Animated Christmas Ecards have made sending and receiving them a lot of fun. Today is a good day to send out your Christmas cards and holiday greetings. If you haven't sent them yet today would be a good day to get a start. Have a great day.


Big Time said...

I can remember those cards and their beauty. I always wondered where they came from and why she got so many. I don't remember that day but I can see you running through that room. It was spooky and dark. I don't know why but I was always scared to look at the bed because I exppected to see a dead person there.

I don't knnow why kids have such and imagination but it is a wonderful thing. I have to go for now. I have card shopping to do. Love you Patsy.

Pblacksaw said...

BigTime~ She got them from her family and from people who knew her from the water office and Jeeze just people I reckon. She always had a slew though. Sometimes she would have more than one Tv Table would hold and she'd set them over by the window. But she always had the ones from her sisters there beside her chair. I hated that spooky room; I always hid my eyes when I had to go through there for anything. I too was scared of the bed. I always said there was a mean spirit in that room. I wish I could get in that house a few minutes though. I want to look for something. We should find out who owns it and ask if we can go there since our Grandma used to live there.. I don't want to go alone but.....

Sunshine said...

Patsy, my aunt had a room like that. It was spooky. She always made us stay in the kitchen. I never understood why you would want to have a room that no one can go into and use...sounds a little crazy to me. My mom loves those little red birds, especially at Christmas time. They are everywhere! You would think you were in a bird sanctuary! I just love you Patsy! Thanks for all the wonderful stories.