I have spent the afternoon addressing Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards because they allow me to keep up with friends from the past. I have always loved newsletters, because I love reading about others’ lives. Naturally I early started writing one of my own. I know Ann Landers and others made fun of them, and that was their privilege. But I did resent that their writings and disdain might have influenced others not to write newsletters I would have enjoyed.
Originally I signed Gerald’s name to the letter, but that embarrassed him, so I switched to using first person, which was easier to write. I might have stopped in busy years, but there were elderly relatives who would tell me how much they looked forward to my letter. How could I quit? (I hope they weren’t fibbing!) Those dear ones are gone now, but writing the letter has become one of my traditions, and it is a good way to reflect back upon the previous year. I always assumed my friends and relatives were smart enough to toss my letter in the wastebasket if they did not like newsletters. If you don’t, please don’t read tonight’s blog any further. Here is the 2009 newsletter:
Woodsong Christmas 2009
Dear Friends and Relatives:
Except for the Taylors, our extended family has mostly stayed put this year. Mary Ellen and Brian moved from Lake Saint Louis, MO, to central Illinois. Their country home is five miles from the sweet tiny town of Waggoner. Trent and Briana go to Lincolnwood High School in Raymond. Brian once again had great yields on our farm on the Pittsburg road, which he leases.
The Cedars--Katherine, David, and Sam--are still in Marion. The Eilers--Jeannie, Rick, Elijah, and Cecelie--in Freeport, and Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann in Watkinsville, GA. Erin Glasco is a senior at Texas A&M and Leslie Eiler is a sophomore at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Tara, our oldest grandchild, and her husband, Bryan Archibald, and their two boys--Aidan and Maddux-- are still in Aurora.
We like being half way between Leslie and her family since we get to have them come by the farm as they travel to visit one another. And we love it when Erin stays here while she visits her hometown Johnston City friends.
In the spring, we followed Erin’s A&M and Gerry’s University of Georgia softball teams, and this fall Geri Ann’s Oconee High School softball team. We watched on the computer or sometimes on TV and on occasion in person. Gerald planned a birthday trip to see Gerry’s Georgia Bulldogs play softball. We had planned to go together to Aggies vs. Missouri, but with her Great Grandmother Borum’s death on April 1, Gerald took Erin on to Columbia after the Friday night visitation and I stayed here.
With grandson Sam along, we went up to Freeport the days before Easter to see Elijah and Cecelie in the annual extravaganza Showtime, which is always an incredible student production. Sam got to dye eggs with the Eilers and then again when we stopped at my brother Jim’s for a break coming home. We arrived back at Woodsong on Easter Eve. I had a small ham in the fridge, but I did not use it. Our son-in-law David had arranged an Easter dinner for us, and he and Katherine carried it out to Woodsong for the six of us, which included Sam’s friend Josh.
I did get to see Erin play softball, however, when we went to the Big 12 Tournament on Mother’s Day weekend. (We missed getting to see Elijah in the lead of Brighton Beach Memoirs up at Freeport that week.) Driving to Oklahoma City, we listened to reports on the derecho, which wiped out thousands of trees, roofs, and worse in our area. Mary Ellen and Brian and our good neighbors the Cullys took care of our house, hooked up a generator, and saved our frozen food.
A year’s highlight for us was going at the end of May to the Women’s College World Series at Oklahoma City for the second year in a row. Last year we saw Erin lead A&M to second place, and this year the University of Georgia went to the nationals for the first time and placed third. Mary Ellen, Brianna, and the Archibalds were also there in addition to Vickie and Geri Ann. We also visited with Gerald’s Air Force friends John and Mary Patterson, who live there, and we celebrated Mary Ellen‘s birthday.
Afterward we drove on down to Amarillo to visit with my sister Rosemary and husband Phil and the family there. We had been able to meet up with their daughter Cyndi in Oklahoma, who was house sitting that week for her daughter Tori and husband Randy. We had barely returned from Texas, and Gerald went with Tara to a Southern Force tourney in Birmingham.
July brought Vacation Bible School at Center with grandkids visiting and helping out. August brought a day trip for me to visit her brother Jim and wife Vivian. Then the day after Gerald’s Wolf Lake High School Reunion, we drove to Urbana for the 100th anniversary of Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, where we attended when Gerald was in grad school. Next came a visit from Erin and two girl friends from A&M. On our way to the Garden of the Gods with them, we were able to work in a visit to cousins Morris and Judy Hall when Mary Graddick came up from Tallahassee.
Labor Day brought the Archibalds, the Taylors, Leslie and her friend Mike Thompson to visit, so that was a fun weekend. At the end of the week, we headed to Georgia and watched Geri Ann’s team win 4 of 5 games in their opening tourney there in Watkinsville. We were able to attend church with them and stay a couple more days for one more game. Visiting Dahlonega was a special treat. This month Geri Ann was chosen by the Athens Herald-Banner as softball player of the year. As a pitcher, she went 11-2 this season with a 0.60 ERA and batted .465 with 10 homers and 41 RBI.
Back in Illinois, we enjoyed a visit from Vernell Williams and together attended the annual BSU Reunion (1940s-60s) at Carbondale’s Baptist Student Center and at University Baptist Church.
As we have aged, the doctor, dental, ear, and eye appointments have increased to fill our time. But we have still had time for services at Center in the village of Crab Orchard, grandson Sam’s band concerts, and occasional breakfasts or dinners with the Glasco brothers. I remained active in Southern Illinois Writers Guild and the Trail of Tears Association, and I frequently speak on the Trail. Usually I blog twice a week on Woodsong Notes and occasionally write an article that gets published. Gerald has again enjoyed some Angel Flights with Herman Hood. He has a couple of Gerry’s dogs here right now and had fun hunting quail with Gerry over Thanksgiving. He still helps out Scott Cully next door and sometimes our son-in-law Brian. He always has a project of some sort going and does a lot of photography.
All the children and most of the grandchildren were here for Thanksgiving. (The Archibalds had their northern Illinois family at their house, but they plan to be here for Christmas.) Jeannie’s family will be at Freeport at Christmas.
There are many sad things in the world and in our community and family, but also we have much to be thankful for including friends and loved ones like you. Here is a Bible verse gift for 2010: “And the angel said Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
Love and Merry Christmas,
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