A Christmas Past/ A Christmas Present

1 01 2009

My grandsons and I were cleaning out a drawer and found my album of photos from the first ten years of our marriage.  It was in complete disarray.  I knew right then that I was going to get new photo albums for my pictures.  The boys and I went to the store to buy some albums that very morning.  Later, after the boys went home –I began putting my new albums in order.  There were two items of furniture constantly used for a photograhic background in those pictures.  Each new school year our four children would line up in front of our old piano for back to school photos.  The other piece of furniture is a bookcase.  It was also a very popular backdrop for family pictures.  We no longer have the piano but we still have the bookcase.  There is a story about that bookcase that I would like to share.

The summer of l982 was very difficult.  My husband was self employed working at various jobs.  Work was scarce and we were short of money.  I had already sold my mother’s fine china and silver ware to help make mortgage payments.  One day that summer Jim came home with a bookcase that he had torn out of a house.  One could tell that it was very solid and worth keeping.  The only problem was that it had been painted so many times over the years that it would take a great deal to restore the bookcase.  Neither Jim and I have that particular talent to restore furniture.  Thus, we put the bookcase on the street with a for sale sign.  We were asking $20.00 for the bookcase.  I didn’t have much faith that anyone would buy it. 

Within a couple of days a family came by and decided they wanted the bookcase.  The husband of the family did like to restore furniture.  While we were talking –we realized that our children went to the same school.  Matthew was in the same grade as Ben and Sandy. Tina, Matthew’s mother, was looking for an after school sitter.  She asked me if I would be interested.  I agreed to look after Matthew.  I was already baby sitting two other children in the evening.  She also asked me if I could take care of Matthew on certain days during the rest of the summer.  So not only did I earn $20.00 but I gained a job. 

Matthew was to be a part of our lives for the next three years.  I also seemed to become the sitter for many other children as well.  Those were busy years but the most interesting part of this story is that John and Tina gave us back our bookcase as a Christmas present.  John had stripped off all of the many layers of paint and refinished the bookcase.  Today in 2009, we still have that bookcase and it is one of our favorite pieces of furniture.  I shall always cherish the day that I met John, Tina and Matthew.  Tina and Matthew even came to visit us in Kentucky after we left Alabama.  And our bookcase is still a favorite backdrop for photo sessions.

Now for the Christmas present.  I was deeply touched when Ben and his wife gave us a card telling us that our Christmas present was to move our washer and dryer up into our kitchen.  One of my brothers fell down his basement stairs in November and had to have three surgeries.  I must confess that I have been worrying about my basement stairs.  I’ve been taking laundry up and down our stairs for 23 years.  And I’ve fallen several times with one fall being so serious that I had to have surgery.  Evidently, Ben and Linda have been worrying about us , too.  Ben has the skills to do all of the plumbing for us.  I’m so excited about not ever having to do laundry in the basement again.

Another wonderful Christmas present was having our former Mennonite friends and their six children come sing for us.  Daniel and Ruth were old order Mennonites until about eight years ago.  They left their order to start a new life.  Daniel learned to drive and they put electricity and plumbing in their home..  They also have phones, a DVD player,  a fax machine and a computer. They still live much like the Mennonites in that they are self supporting.  They farm, sell goats and rabbits, do carpentry work for others, and run a bookstore from their home.    We enjoy visiting their bookstore.  In fact, I did much of my Christmas shopping at their store.  Whenever we visit them–their children are always busy with projects to help around their home. The past two times we have visited them–some of the children have been busy baking.  The oldest son has been involved in building on to their home.  He helped his father with the blueprints and studied the rudiments of electrical wiring so he could do the actual labor of wiring their new addition.  They are an amazing family.  So we were delighted when they came to sing for us.  We took many photos of them as they are no longer under the ban of not taking photographs.  They had fun looking at our family pictures on display.  I had one picture of my birth family during Christmas time in which I was just six years old.  Daniel got very sad as he has no photos of his growing up years, of his parents and siblings nor of his wedding to Ruth.  However, he smiled again thinking of how it would be different for his family.  We had a lovely time with Daniel’s family.  It was an experience that I will always cherish. 

Christmas comes and goes each year but these two Christmas seasons will always stand out in my mind.  I’ve been busy working on my albums.  It looks like I will need four albums for my one huge torn up book.  There are many pictures of Ben as a child building all of his treehouses.  He was already developing his life work as a child.   The picures reflect many birthdays and Christmas seasons.  There is a space in my new albums to write about each picure.  This project will keep me busy for a number of days.  And to think all of these memories started from just cleaning out one drawer. 

May God bless each of you!

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