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“So what have you been doing?” a friend asked.

“I’ve been writing Christmas cards,”  I replied.

My answer confused them. “Boy, you sure are getting a jump on Christmas.” My friend didn’t know about my summer Christmas card contest.

I’ve been working hard trying to answer all the cards that came to our mailbox this summer. It’s amazing how many nice people read this column who took the time to send me a card this past July and August.

The real kicker is that 99 percent of them sent real holiday cards, not just a drawn snowman on a piece of paper—though I would have accepted that as an entry, too.

I can’t acknowledge all, but here are a few people who entered my contest:

Carol from Marshfield and Lynn from Brillion were fast. Their cards arrived here first. They won’t be in the drawing though. Carol and Lynn are personal friends and both asked not to be included in the contest, though they did want to be included in the fun.

Next came a card and note from Donna and Bob in Adell, and Patti from Hartford. Diane and Ray from Niagara even sent a few extra postage stamps for anyone who forgot to include a return stamp in their card—a few others did the same. I thank them very much for the extra stamps, but I have to say that 90 percent of the cards arrived with a stamp for me to use.

I put a number on each envelope as they arrived. After reading those wonderful greetings and sharing them with Bob, I noted addresses in my address file—every note that comes our way is added to my friend address list. Last December, I highlighted those who sent cards in red. This summer I switched to green.

The odd thing that I discovered was that most of the summer entries had never sent us a card before. Maybe it was the book give away contest that got them going, I don’t know, but we’re honored that they found the time to write.

 More cards arrived, almost one every day, sometimes five. We heard from Carol in Fort Atkinson. She sent us a cat ornament to brighten our summer Christmas and Dorothea from Wautoma gave a seasonally colored crocheted washcloth.

People wrote from Waldo, Kenosha, Rosendale, Watertown, Chilton, Highland, Waupun, Cuba City, Greenleaf, Mineral Point, Plymouth, Oostburg, Janesville, Oshkosh, Hancock, Reedsville, Glenbeulah, Lodi, Appleton, Chebanse (IL), Waterford, Mendota (IL), Freemont, Seymour, Black Creek, Antigo, Waterford, Allenton, Franksville, Birnamwood, Shullsburg, Ixonia, Manitowoc, Campbellsport, Coloma, Mc Farland, Lake Geneva, Pelkie (MI), Trempealeau, Maribel, Hortonville, among others.

Bob and I are amazed! I started this, yes, to advertise my newest book, The Growing Years 1988-1989, but also to fill our mailbox with real letters and not just bills. And it worked. Thank you very much for every card.

 Now I have the onerous deed of choosing the winner. I feel bad that I can’t afford to give away a book to everyone. (You can always read my books for free by going to your library. Wisconsin librarians will help you get any of my books to distant libraries—even my novels which are in large print. They are in the OWLS system.)

The time is finally here. Bob is going to draw the winner.

 The winner of The Growing Years 1988-1989, is Elaine Schmidt, Appleton. Congratulations! Your signed copy is in the mail. I hope you enjoy my stories from 1988-89. Some are funny. Some are sad, but that’s life.

If you have the urge to read, contact me for any of my books or find them on Amazon.

And remember, I’ll be speaking at the Chilton Public Library on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at 6 p.m. My topic is Saving Family Stories. If you’re in the area, come to join the fun. I’ll also have books with me to sell.

 Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.Susanmanzke.net.

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