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Holiday Greetings

  • Subject: Holiday Greetings
  • From: gw1944@vermontel.net (Glen Williams)
  • Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2003 08:07:52 -0500

Dear Hosta Folk:

I don't have a thing to say about hostas , but I can at least offer you
holiday greetings and a story  from a column I just sent in for next week's
local paper.

Glen W.
                                Christmas 2003 and 1951

Before I get to Christmas 1951, I would like to offer a prelude to this
Christmas , which is now about a week away. We have  had two major snow
storms. From my bay window , dawn is beginning to illuminate the sliced
layers of powdered snow. The winds have softened some of the edges, and
here and there  are now snow dunes which taper from 1/4" to 2' or more. In
both storms the wind has sculpted the garden mounds and pathways into
cantilevered planes of white snow and blue shadows, with both soft and
crisp edges. The sculpture  holds the memory of the wind and I am grateful
that all that huffing and puffing has created something so beautiful. Of
course calling it beautiful, and lauding the wind, clearly means I am
inside and no longer look like frosty the snowman  trying to move the snow
in a whirlwind. Some art is only art, well after the initial pangs of
creation. Looking at nature's art, or being in the middle of creation,
makes a big difference.**

 In the wake of both storms,  Shelly the mighty Sheltie has learned to love
diving into the fresh
powder. Last year it terrified her, this year it's a joy. She disappears
except for her  black nose, then just when you would think she has been
lost in her own  avalanche, she leaps up Kangaroo-like , yelps in joy, and
re-submerges  and the hunt for the Red October begins again. An old dog
with new tricks sets a wonderful example for me.  The only catch in this
game is when she is finished  (good for up to 5  Kangaroo leaps), she
demands that I lift her bodily out of the drift. This happened during the
very first storm when she suddenly demanded to go out at 3:00 AM. I had
warned her about that late glass of water, but no, she knew best.  So, I
was left in my bathrobe and slippers lifting her out of a drift of swirling
snow because I thought she was drowning, when she was merely waving at me
to come out and play. When I lifted her out, she immediately squirmed from
my arms and did it again. I am glad that the neighbors were not looking or
listening to this performance. I said things that I nearly regret.

                                         Christmas 1951

I think I was about 7 years old. My father had given me the princely sum of
one dollar to buy a gift for my mother for Christmas. In turn, my mother
had given me one dollar to buy a Christmas present for my dad. Although
the amount of one dollar doesn't seem like much (over 3 billion people in
the world now live on a dollar a day or less), in 1951 a dollar was an
immense amount of money  to a seven year old.

My dad took me to Doane's Gift Shop where Penelope's now is. Despite my
father's  feelings about shopping, I remember this as a magical time. My
father could spend many happy hours in a hardware store, a garden shop, or
a car dealership, but going into a gift shop must have been a horror for
him. My brother recently told me (as I was sharing this story with him)
that this must have been the only time he had set foot in a gift shop.   I
later came to know that for every Christmas he bought my mother a pair of
leather gloves, a nice scarf, and gave her crisply folded new bills for her
to buy what she wanted. I remember one year where he switched and bought
her a new purse. The purse was made of cow hide from a Holstein cow (the
one on the Ben and Jerry ice cream trucks). The black and white hide had
been cured with the  hair intact. This black and white puzzle design had an
added feature. On the bottom of the purse,there was a section of hide which
bore the evidence of the cow's connection with barbed wire. My father took
a particular delight in pointing out this flaw.  The interlocking black and
white  puzzle design and the scar made for a highly distinctive purse. The
colorful beaded Indian fringe around the top of the purse was also quite
distinctive.  It's hard to conceive of a more distinctive handbag.

The next year my father , having experienced  the joy of such an  intensely
creative purchase the previous year (and the havoc it wrought),  went back
to the safety of gloves, scarves, and money. My mother used the purse on a
few special occasions (funerals I think), but said that she refused to take
the purse out during hunting season. I forgot to mention it, but the size
of the purse was remarkable too. My mother could have easily carried 3
gallons of milk in it, and  still have had room for a 25 lb Blue Hubbard

That December day in Doanes Gift Shop with my father, and a new dollar in
my new wallet (just for the occasion), was special. Time disappeared
(except for my father ) , and after looking at all manner of wonders, I
decided on a single soup bowl. It was the same pattern , a brown line
design of a farm on a yellow back ground, as the dishes my mother used
everyday. It made perfect sense to me that one could never have too many
soup bowls.

A couple of days later my mother took me  into Stern's Hardware store with
another dollar, and I began the selection process all over. This time I
decided on a toy turtle. One could wind the turtle and it would it would
make its way around the store bumping into things (customers) and then
starting off in another direction. I thought it was really neat, and I was
of course hoping that my father would get sick of playing with it, and then
I could have it. Actually my psychology was pretty sound, but my mother was
not fooled. She kindly suggested that something else might give my dad more
pleasure. I felt thwarted, but acknowledged the source of the dollar and
chose again. Interestingly enough (only interesting if you lead a very
boring life), I can not remember what I bought my dad that year.  I do know
that the hardware store became  a source of gifts for my dad for decades.

That Christmas , when I got to the bottom of my Christmas stocking, I found
a wonderful turtle (miracle of miracles) that one could wind up and it
would travel all over the house, bumping into people . It most have been
the brother to the turtle I saw in Sterns and I was so impressed that Santa
had such resources to know just what I wanted. The Christmas elves do
remarkable work...and I know that even as I write this....

May you all have a glorious holiday filled with the turtles of your choosing.

P.S.  That turtle, called Tom, did indeed wander all over the house.
Everyone in the house managed to step on it at least three times, and fall
over it at least twice, before it apparently migrated south. My father
explained to me that turtles came from warmer climate.  I always thought,
that my dad was telling a whopper and it's just that he wanted it to play
with himself. Until this moment, I have kept that dark secret to
myself....but then it is the season to share.

And to all of you a question. Do turtles eat hostas?


ever-expanding service economy to cater to debt-ridden middle-class
people and the hoggery of the very rich."
Glen Williams
20 Dewey St.
Springfield , Vermont
Tel: 802-885-2839 

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