Cards help spread family news

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 26, 2009

I’m always delighted when Christmas cards appear in our mailbox. Christmas is the only time of the year when we hear from some friends and loved ones. I can’t wait to rip open the envelopes. I am especially thrilled with those with notes scribbled beneath the signature or when a letter is enclosed.

I had to smile when I saw a Christmas postcard from a cousin last Saturday. With legible but tiny writing, she covered enough family news to fill at least a page of stationery. She’s the only daughter of a family of nine children and came along about mid-way, I guess. Of the nine, one is deceased. All of the rest live only a short distance from each other, with the exception of the youngest who resides in south Florida. She said “the clan” planned an early Christmas dinner on Dec. 19. I can imagine what a festive event that was with loads of delicious food and plenty of laughter. They’ve always been a jolly bunch.

I love being around that fun-loving crowd. I recall visiting their house when we were children and romping in the woods behind the house with some of them. They enjoyed much more freedom than I did as an only child. Along with a couple of the older boys from that family, another female cousin my age and one or two others, I piled into a Jeep for a short drive from my grandparents’ house. Contrary to my usual practice and knowing she might refuse, I didn’t ask my mother’s permission for my participation in the little jaunt. Although there was no speeding, the driver made a sharp turn that caused the Jeep to flip over close to a creek. All of us tumbled out, landing just short of the water. None of us were injured, but it was a scary experience. The story of that trip lives on in family history and even today, the tale still comes up during family gatherings.

As the years passed, most of the boys went off to serve their country. During that time I corresponded with the two oldest. Once, the oldest, who served on a ship, called me ship to shore from Venezuela through a ham radio operator who lived down the street from us.

During my soldier husband’s service at Ft. Jackson, S.C., one of those cousins was also at Ft. Jackson. I barely knew how to cook, but we invited him to have Thanksgiving dinner with us. Poor fellow, after enjoying his mother’s and our grandmother’s holiday feasts most of his life, mine couldn’t hold a candle to them. I cooked a turkey, but a lot of the fixings were missing. As I look back, it wasn’t a total disaster, but I’ll bet he wished he had chosen the turkey dinner in the mess hall that Thanksgiving day.

We can’t get together much these days, but it’s always a joy to get some family news via some lines that accompany Christmas greetings.