Christmas package deal evidence of parents' generosity

Kristi Schumacher
This Amish buggy along with a cutter and a training cart were part of the surprise package deal from Kristi Schumacher's parents.

One of my most memorable Christmas memories happened about 35 years ago. My parents were nearing retirement and decided they wanted to do something really special -- have a real blow-out Christmas for my two older sisters and me and our husbands.

They approached each of us, asking if there was anything that we had been pining for, something we had always wanted but maybe couldn't afford. We were so surprised! Mom and Dad had always been generous people, but were always frugal and careful with their money. This seemed really over the top.

Of course, being horse crazy all my life, and having invested in a few mares and a young stallion, my young family wanted to do more training and some driving equipment for training those horses was just what we needed on our hobby farm.

I checked out all the local listings and ads for training carts, buggies and cutters. And one snowy morning in late November, Mom and Dad drove out from Eau Claire to my hobby farm near Rock Falls to pick me up. With directions in hand, we made our way to a farm south of Eau Claire.

The long driveway wasn't plowed, so I had them wait in a toasty warm car along the road and I trekked up the driveway to meet with the owner about her equipment. She had a nice Amish buggy, a cutter and a training cart, all in really good condition. We discussed prices and after warning me of the dangers of horse driving incidents, I walked back to the car to discuss things with my parents.

I would have been thrilled with just the training cart, but Mom and Dad thought that I should have the buggy and cutter as well, so back up the driveway I went. Back up to the house to close the deal.

As they dropped me off at home, Dad told Mom that I would also need a harness. I was speechless and told them I would save up for one.

"Oh no," they said, "we want you to have it all. After all, this is a package deal," and handed me a check.

A few days later we packed our two young daughters into our old truck to haul home the buggy and training cart. We would make a second trip to pick up the cutter, which was way out in a field beyond their outbuildings on the farm, half buried in a snow bank. We dug it out and carried it through the snow laden field.

Next stop was an Amish harness shop near Augusta to pick out a leather harness. Our girls had fun visiting with the children playing in the shop, and the harness maker winked at me as he asked my husband if he needed a buggy whip for his ‘mare’.

We were surprised at first until we realized he was making a joke. We all had a good laugh.

That driving equipment has had a lot of use over the years, and I still treasure everything in that Christmas package deal, especially the generosity of my parents.