Bob and I have never run in the fast lane. In other words, we are not party people, even during the holiday season. On Christmas Eve day we usually stop in for a friend's open house. The only other holiday party we annually attend is the Manzke Christmas Party.
Choosing a date for our family get-together takes planning. This scheduling has become more important as our family has grown. Everyone is so busy — not so much for Bob or me, at least not since our harvest is over. Things that determined our Christmas date this year included the birth of our newest grandson, Wyatt, and a business trip our son Russell was taking to Shanghai. Both had to be completed before our holiday together.
Weeks ahead, we picked Saturday, Dec. 21, with a backup of Sunday, Dec. 22 in case of bad weather. It turned out that our first choice was the calm between two storms. A messy drive leaving home from Seymour, but the highways were okay for our two-hour drive to Sun Prairie, even if a bit sloppy.
Everyone arrived as scheduled, about 10 a.m. Help came out to our car to carry in gifts, and food as I went inside looking for our new grandson, Wyatt. Seth was holding his new little cousin, so I had to wait my turn. Lucky for me, Wyatt started to squirm and cry. Seth looked worried and gratefully allowed me to take the baby — four years ago the babies were twins. We had two to cuddle.
This time with only one baby, meant I had to share more often…. But I think I had him a good share of the time, enough that by the end of the day my arms were tired — funny, I'm not one for picking up other people's babies. Some of my friends can't pass up a new born. I can, except when they are our own.
We watched the grandchildren open gifts. As usual they had too much, but I love their reactions: large eyes and circular mouths in big 'OH's. Our gift exchange for the older members of the family brought a lot of laughs along with nifty packages.
As always the day ended too soon. Since it was the shortest day of the year, and since I don't care to drive far in the dark, we left Sun Prairie by three. Four-year-old Arianna was not happy we were leaving so soon — her reaction made me both happy and sad. I didn't want to go either, but it was time. In the end, I had about an hour of driving in the dark, but at least we had dry roads, unlike the following day.
Pretty much the celebrations are over for Bob and me. On New Years Eve it will be just the two of us watching the ball drop in New York City. We don't wait for midnight here anymore. Better to be snug in bed and ready to wake bright-eyed for the dawn of a new day.
Leaving the holiday season behind isn't difficult to do. It will be nice to get back to normal again. . . . I actually avoid large shopping centers when everyone is out bustling about for Christmas. This year I made everyone candy-coated popcorn and crocheted sets of coasters — Bob and I don't exchange gifts. We don't need anything and if we do we usually just get it.
There is one daily event I will miss. That is going to the mail box and finding greeting cards from family and friends. Bob and I especially love hearing from column readers. Some we recognize from years of correspondences. Others are greetings from new friends
All of you end up giving us more than you know — a writer's life is very quiet. Letters from the outside world tell us we are not alone, which makes us eternally grateful — I just hope others are following my example and saving and sharing family stories. Those stories are your history that no book will ever be able to tell.
I'm not looking forward to January for its cold, but especially because the mailbox will only offer us bills and junk mail again.
Christmas season can be hectic, but it's best when shared. Bob and I are happy to be able to share it with everyone reading these words. You are part of our family, whether you know it or not and we appreciate each and every one of you. Happy New Year to you all.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.