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The first novel I ever published was a Doubleday romance called Never Bring Her Roses. It had nothing to do with Bob, well not really. I got the title from the fact that when Bob and I were dating in the early 70s, he never brought me flowers. He had other ideas when it came to gifts. One day I came home from work and found a load of hay for my horses—that was Bob’s idea of a gift, very practical.

These days, my husband gives me flowers but not in the usual way.

Bob knows I love daisies. He also sees that I haven’t had any luck growing my favorite flower in any of my flower beds. Without heading to the florist, Bob has found a way to give me daisies. He does this with the lawnmower.

Let me explain. It all started years ago when a rare daisy started to grow in our ditch. Instead of mowing that daisy down, Bob allowed it to live. That was his first gift to me. From then on more daisies have popped up in our lawn and Bob allows them to live, well most of them. Sometimes he’s too involved with cutting grass that a few get mowed down. Mostly he makes an effort to let the daisies live and this makes me smile.

A friend laughed when he saw the patches of daisies growing. This man knew exactly what Bob was doing and he thought it was funny. Bob didn’t care about the teasing. He continues to leave the daisies grow for me. He’s such a sweetie.

I have a second subject today, beyond daisies. When editing my new book The Growing Years 1988-1989, I was reminded of a Christmas in July that took place back then. During that hot, dry summer I asked readers to send us Christmas cards. Here’s some of what I said:

I began to consider what I had to look forward to after baling that day. When I went home in the evening I would do some of the laundry waiting for me. My day’s highlight would come when I checked the mail, there I would probably find bills and junk mail, no letters, not even a postcard saying, “Wish you were here.”

I would like to get a personal greeting, not a bill, in the mail tomorrow. So why not a Christmas card? Why not spread a little bit of Christmas joy in the middle of summer? (Did I mention the sun was getting to me?)

That’s when an idea struck me. The people who read this column are mostly overworked farmers, doing many of the same time-consuming jobs just like our family. Maybe they are hot and tired (and a bit eccentric) and would like to discover a friendly Christmas greeting in their mail box too. (Talk about fried brains!)

If you are as crazy as I am, if the sun has baked your brains, if you’d like a personal Christmas card from the Manzke family, send a holiday greeting to me….

So why not do the same thing this year? If you are hot and tired, think of the cold of the Christmas season and send a card or a note referencing Christmas to us and we’ll send some kind of greeting back to you (please enclose a postage stamp for a return card).

To jazz up this Christmas-in-summer event I’ll add to it a book give-away. At the end of August near my birthday, we’ll randomly draw from our summer holiday mail and choose a winner who will then receive a copy of my newest book.

There you have it, two silly people. Good thing we found each other all those years ago, we were meant to be together. Merry Christmas everyone!

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com.

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