Sunday, December 31, 2017



Grandma Ina seemed offhand about Thanksgiving, but she appears to have enjoyed celebrating the New Year. As she was writing to her son Vance (my father), she often said, “My first of the New Year shall be to you,” or some such phrase. As 1932 turned to ’33, she described greeting the New Year from the east coast to the west through the radio. “They began at 9:00 at New York City,” she wrote, “when pandemonium broke loose on Broadway till we could hardly hear the chimes from the great Trinity Church. Chicago ushered it in on Central Standard Time. We bathed while the New Year was crossing the Great Plains and getting into the mountains to be heralded at Denver. I curled up on the couch and took a nap while 1933 was crossing the mountain chains and reaching the city which sits by the Golden Gate. There again was great sound and we could hear the steamers bellowing and such a confusion of sounds [so that] we could hardly hear the bell tolling out the midnight hour.”

Traditionally, Ina's sister Bertha prepared a big meal on New Year’s Day, as this one in 1934, which Ina described: “We were at Aunt’s for New Year’s Day. And oh! The lavish dinner! Oyster soup – very good, fried chicken, gravy, potatoes, corn on the cob, cabbage salad, Jell-O fruit salad, fruit cake with thick icing, mince pie, pumpkin pie, apricot Jell-O pie, etc., etc., etc. – and then Aunt said, ‘Why Ruth! We didn’t put any citron preserves on the table.’ Also, popcorn balls, nuts, candy, and gum.”

Of that same year, 1933 to ’34, Aunt Shirley wrote: “New Year’s Eve the Harold Powells asked Henry, Myrtle and myself over for the evening and we had a most enjoyable time listening to their good radio and playing anagrams. They really are delightful people. We didn’t come home till after 2 a.m. so we were somewhat sleepy at Aunt’s the next day. She had the usual big dinner which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.”

In 1938, the New Year’s Day dinner at Aunt Bertha’s was less lavish. Ina wrote: “We were at June’s today for dinner and had a good one, but Aunt had said it was not to be much so all we had was oyster soup (“Willapas,” by the way), roast back bone of pork, a platter of sausage, potatoes roasted with the meat, lettuce salad, pickles, chow chow, not more than four kinds of jelly and preserves, only one kind of pie (pumpkin), and only one kind of cake (fruitcake). Of course, you know there was tea, coffee, milk, grape juice, bread, butter, crackers. This is all I can remember. The nuts and candy were on top, too. We came home in good season to avoid the dark.”

I’m sure Mike and I will celebrate by being sound asleep by 10:00. That’s what we usually do. KW

Friday, December 29, 2017


Old . . .

Dollar store Santa face
In the 13 years we have lived in this little modular home, this is the first year we’ve had a Christmas tree here, mostly due to lack of space. We happened to be at K-Mart after Thanksgiving when I spied a nice pencil tree, and we bought the last one they had in stock. 

. . . even older
Now, my extensive collection of Christmas ornaments – more than will ever be placed on a tree at one time again – is in storage and wasn’t available. The only ornaments I had on hand were my mother’s most antique ornaments which I had carefully stored inside this house, several that had come my way through sister Harriet (also vintage), and just a few new ones collected from here and there.

An all-time favorite
Vintage ornaments
During a pre-holiday phone visit with daughter Hallie, I mentioned my belief that tarnished vintage ornaments aren’t so pretty on the tree. She laughingly said that she had seen pre-tarnished new ornaments in the shops. So, with newfound confidence, I put the old ornaments on our new tree. Faded and tarnished, they rose to the occasion. I love it! 

Gown from JoAnn
Renewing the lighted scenes

In the same conversation, I mentioned to Hallie that I can’t seem to part with my string of pre-1960 lighted scenes, even though the lights no longer work. So, she brought with her a battery-operated string of colored lights and spent some time Christmas Eve installing the old scenes onto the new string. It was wonderful to see them glowing again, though now faded. It was too late to put them on the tree, but there’s always next year. KW

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Nick and Hallie leaving the farm in Subaru Forester, Dec. 26
We had a lovely white country Christmas, the kind that reminds you of a Christmas romance. What the stories don’t tell you is that while the snowy scenery is beautiful, it’s also treacherous.

Mike always worries that we’ll get stuck in the lane, but we drove right in on Thursday (Dec. 21) over several inches of snow.  Thursday night and all day Friday it snowed, giving us 6-8 more inches. Now Mike worried about Hallie and Nick driving in on Saturday. He called the county road department to be sure they would plow our road. They said they would, but not until Saturday. Fine, said Mike – that works.

It was cold, too, but I pulled on my fleecy little jacket and worked away. Mike brought the tree from the barn and I set it up and decorated it with Hallmark houses. Mike set up a laser light against the barn, which proved to be great fun. The solar lights Hallie and I put in a little pine at the pond were also a nice touch for our celebration.

Saturday the county plowed our road. The operator said that he had thought he only had to plow partway, but he happened to see our pick-up and came on down the road. (So much for the effectiveness of Mike’s call to the road department.) Our lane was still unplowed, and I began to message daughter Hallie about road conditions. She responded by saying that they had hoped to surprise us but they were driving their recently purchased 2016 Subaru Forester and not her VW Jetta. We were indeed relieved. And then neighbors came in and plowed the lane with their bladed UTVs. They said they were plowing everyone’s lanes, and they were obviously having a lot of fun.
Hallie and Nick's Subaru

Hallie and Nick made it in with no problem but not until 9:30 p.m. We had to get a good night’s rest before we could begin celebrating. The low that night was +4 but Mike inadvertently managed to get the house really warm with a pitchy pine log. No one minded.

Sunday morning (Christmas Eve) found us enjoying a country breakfast of bacon, eggs, and biscuits. We did some cooking, cleaning, and decorating, and our friends Ken and Ginny came for lunch. We visited over a game of dominoes and they left as daylight was waning.

Missing pieces
Interesting puzzle
We might have opened our gifts that night, but we decided we were too tired and waited until Christmas morning. We had a quiet day. We played a game of Yahtzee. Then Hallie strapped her new safety belt with LED lights across her chest and went for a run in the snow, impressing her dad with her fitness and stamina. Later, Hallie and Nick found some old jigsaw puzzles (small ones) left from the Dobson family which they put together. Hallie turned over one of the boxes to find notes from Grandma Ina regarding missing pieces – a message from the past.

Ready to load up
It continued cold and we had more snow. At dusk, the neighbor zipped through to plow the lane again. I keep telling Mike we should get our own UTV, but instead he’s shopping for a blade for our 4-wheeler.

Subaru just making the bend
Tuesday (Dec. 26) was a busy day. I began packing as soon as I got up. Then I unloaded the refrigerator. Hallie washed the stove and then she and Mike cleaned the fridge. Hallie and Nick left for Seattle about 11:00, and she texted that they had no problem making it up Plank’s Pitch.

Mike removes chains
Mike and I spent two more hours at the farmhouse – he winterizing and I taking ornaments off the tree. We left at 1:00 p.m., stopping at the top of Plank’s Pitch to remove the chains. We were hungry, so we stopped at Subway on Riverside (Orofino) for a sandwich. We were in town by 3:30, and then I unpacked, a process which is mostly finished as I write. KW

Monday, December 25, 2017


Christmas Day, 1933
Ina stood on the front porch, waving and calling good-bye as Jack drove the sleigh carrying the Smiths out of the yard and up the east hill. This marked the end of Shirley Anne’s stay with Ina and Jack, and Ina’s heart was full. Once they were out of sight, she wiped away a tear or two. She was really ready for the quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s, but first she would sit in her blue rocker and reflect on this Christmas.

Oh what joy to think of last night’s revelry here at her house! A wonderful time was had by all this skimpy Christmas of 1933. But there was no skimpy Christmas here, you know. Ina saw to that. Everyone was well remembered with small gifts, trinkets, and treats. And they had so much food left over that they parceled it out to the guests as they left for home – pies, cookies, doughnuts, fruitcake, etc.

Christmas Eve was Shirley Anne’s last night with Aunt Ina and Uncle Jack. When the party guests had left, Shirley Anne got ready for bed, put a few cookies on the table for Santa, and then hung up her stocking. (Jack did too, as he always did when a youngster was in the home on Christmas Eve.)

The Smiths came early Christmas morning bringing a big box for Shirley Anne, which proved to be a big “mama” doll which Santa left for her at their house. With Mrs. Smith’s help, Ina served a big country breakfast. And now it was over and the house seemed very quiet.

Ina now set aside these feelings of loneliness. After all, she liked Christmas. It helped to pass the dark months, and this Christmas her life had been enriched by the Gingerbread Pageant. The preparations carried her through December, and the memories – and the gifts she received – would carry her through to spring. KW