Holiday memories

A lit Christmas tree on the Capitol grounds.

A lit Christmas tree on the Capitol grounds.

Mother, wife was family’s glue

All of our children were born while I was in the Army. I was stationed at Camp Hanford in Washington state. The unit I was attached to had the assignment to guard the atomic facility at Hanford. Our first born was a boy, born in October, followed by twin girls, also born in October, a year later. Now we had three young children. My wife, being from a big family, was capable of handling the blessed event. All of her time was devoted to taking care of their needs, made possible by deep maternal love. She was finally able to get them all on a schedule which gave her some free time.

Gladys was one of those type of people who believed in “live and let live.” She had no use for people who gossiped about others or who put other races down. She always remarked when confronted by these type of people, “I am in no position to pass judgment on others.”

We did everything as a family as the kids were growing up, attended outdoor movies, visited playgrounds, took them to the beach and always for ice cream. She always set aside time to listen to her children’s problems, real or imagined, never criticizing, lecturing or blaming others. She wanted her children to be part of the solution, not add to the problem. She wanted her children to be self-reliant and always truthful. She would say “truth will always win out.” She gave of herself, always giving her time to benefit others. She was compassionate and helpful to those in need or mentally challenged. She gave our family purpose and joy in loving. She always knew her life was about helping others and leading her children with good example.

When her children were in high school, she had two heart attacks, and soon after developed diabetes which was to lead to blindness. She kept her illness to herself, not sharing her feelings, fearing to cause worry in her children and loss of happiness. At age 64, she had a massive heart attack, making a by-pass necessary. She survived the operation but died from a blood clot in her lungs. Our world was shattered. Death was so final for one so loved.

Something went out of early morning that made for lonesome days. The joy went out of voice and song, the chords were like broken strings. Our hope was that when she passed, angels reached out to gather in one who was coming home. All our Christmases give us a warm remembrance of one, who in a short time on earth, gave us so much happiness.

James McMullen

Carson City

Mom made Christmas a special time

Recently I was going through some family photographs. I came across this cute photo of my brother Jan and sister Denise and me hanging our Christmas stockings. The year was 1953. I was 8, Jan was 3, and Denise was 2.

Mom dressed Denise and me in matching nightgowns — white flannel with pink and red flowers. Jan had on one-piece PJs with feet in them. You can’t really see our faces in the photograph. I remember feeling very excited that Christmas Eve night Santa would be coming soon to fill our stockings with all kinds of goodies.

At the time mom took the photograph, I had no idea how important this Christmas photo was going to be for me. You see, my mom isn’t here any more. So this little photo reminded me of all the love my mom had for us. Mom always made Christmas special for us. The house was filled with cheerful laughter and lots of love.

Thank you, mom, for all your loving ways, especially at Christmas time. Now I have all these beautiful memories that will last me a lifetime.

Donna Batis-Wungnema

Carson City

Too soon to say goodbye

Eleanor was born in the Massachusetts and Peggy in California. Their formative years were similar, struggling to survive the Great Depression. Both families ate cooked oatmeal every morning. At least twice weekly oatmeal was the dinner entree.

From their early teens both sewed most of their clothes. Nothing was thrown away. Thread bare clothing was placed in the “rag bag” to be utilized for future needs. Each family had some chickens for fresh eggs. Rule one was produce or perish. If a hen stopped laying eggs, she became Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy and a vegetable.

Everyone who survived the Depression knew how to squeeze six pennies from a nickel. Nobody threw anything away without using the last drop. They taught their children frugal habits. For example, when my shampoo bottle is “empty,” I pour a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottle and shake it to remove every shampoo molecule from the sides and gain several “free” shampoos, waste not — want not.

During the Depression, both were fortunate to have Santa place an apple, an orange, a handful of almonds and walnuts in the shell with a package of Double Bubble gum in their Christmas stocking, no wrapped presents. They consumed one stocking item each day to have the glow of Christmas last into January.

Our country recovered from the Depression during WWII. As a carryover from their childhood, Christmas was their favorite holiday. Each Christmas present was carefully considered before it was purchased and wrapped.

For several months Eleanor had been losing weight without trying. Finally, she had a series of tests during the middle of December. Her doctor’s appointment was on Tuesday, Dec. 26. Eleanor and her husband entered the doctor’s office and sat in front of his desk. He informed them, “Eleanor, you have liver and pancreatic cancer. My nurse will arrange for your Hospice Care.”

Yesterday, Eleanor and her husband had experienced the joy of seeing loved ones unwrap their presents. They were married on Dec. 11 and celebrated 59 Christmases.

Peggy’s experience was almost the complete opposite. She had received several cancer treatments over three years. In early September, Peggy’s doctor told her and her husband, “There was nothing more I can do.” She passed away six weeks before Christmas.

A week before Christmas in an obscure closet, “Christopher Columbus” discovered everyone’s Christmas presents wrapped and labeled. Peggy had been buying and wrapping gifts since January. Maybe an inner voice told her, “Make this Christmas memorable.”

Eleanor and Peggy lived to love and I, too soon had to say goodbye.

Ken Beaton

Carson City

A Christmas trip to remember

The snow and cold bring back Christmas memories of 1978. Carson City was having cold temperatures with several inches of snow on the ground as we prepared to spend the Christmas vacation time in Sioux City, Iowa, with our son, his wife, and our twin grandchildren. We packed a borrowed motor home with food (including a turkey), clothing, some furniture they needed, presents and lastly their cat and its needs. We were ready to go and had been watching the weather which was happening along our route, Interstate 80. After school on Friday, we were on our way.

Our first stop was Salt Lake City where we went to Temple Square and listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and saw the beautiful Christmas lights everywhere. A good start until the highway turned to a sheet of ice the next day with 18-wheelers and cars off the road all around us. Everything we had with us was frozen solid, but luckily we made it to our destination without incident.

A few days after a good Christmas, the expected new baby decided to come several weeks early and daughter-in-law was admitted to the hospital. When it was time for us to start the long drive home, our dilemma was who will take care of two-year-old twins Aaron and Danielle. The only solution was to bring them back to Carson City with us, so the six of us loaded up the cold motor home and said goodbye to Iowa. More ice and storms greeted us as we made our way west. Yes, it was still freezing, and the only one warm was the driver, as that was where the heater was.

Bundled in blankets and lots of clothes, we arrived in Rock Springs, Wyo., on New Year’s Eve and decided to spend the night in a motel. We checked into the first one we saw and would have paid anything just to have a warm bed. The people we met there were so helpful and friendly, ready to greet a new year. During dinner a call came saying we had a new granddaughter, and all was well. The next day driving into our driveway, we were thankful for a safe trip and the blessings we had as a family.

That was the last holiday we spent together as the following year Tracy was taken from us. Danielle is also gone now, and we often remember the Christmas trip to Iowa and home together.

Jo Saulisberry

Carson City

Emergency allows son to meet the challenge

A most interesting thing about every student I tutored was their curiosity about other students and how they compared to them. I became aware the young people I tutored who were uncooperative when I first accepted them as my students were the same ones who actually cried when I told them they had the tools to continue. They were, so to speak, ready to fly solo without me. After a year or so, I decided to invite all my students to trim-the-tree parties at my house at Christmas time. I figured their interest in each other would be a great way to get them to relax and talk about their experience as my student.

My two sons often served as consultants to me about plans or projects I wanted to do with various students. They too were very excited to meet them all. We would make cookies together, get the Christmas tree in the stand and string the lights around it, then we would put out boxes of ornaments, garlands, and tinsel to prepare for our big event.

One year we expected 17 students, ranging in age from 7-17, to come to our house for this party. I was very interested to see how they would relate and hoped everyone would relax and put their unique touch into the decorating of the tree. About 30 minutes before party time, my son Douglas collapsed in the shower. He lay there limp. I picked him up out of the shower and laid him on my bed and called the doctor who told me to bring him to the emergency room. I remember the look of sheer terror on Gregory’s face when I told him he was in charge of the party. Happily he just looked terrified but told me, “Don’t worry, but take care of Douglas. And come back very soon!”

Douglas had recovered somewhat and could walk but seemed confused. At the hospital, his pediatrician commented that he had never seen me in dressy clothes while carefully eying Douglas who reacted like, “Hey, I’m the patient here.” They took a blood test and checked his heart rate, and then the doctor asked him what he had eaten in the last few hours. It seemed Douglas had consumed way too many cookies, candies, and Kool-Aid and likely collapsed from a sugar high. Thankfully, everything checked out normally and he was released 90 minutes later.

All the way home Douglas was very miffed that he had missed the entire party. I was anxious about how Gregory was faring and wondering what condition our house would in with a 10-year-old as host. To my surprise, the tree was trimmed, the kids were happy, the house unscathed. They left a special spot on the tree for Douglas to decorate, and in the front yard everyone sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” as we drove in. Gregory proudly stood tall and had met the challenge.

Ann Bednarski

Carson City

Neighborhood Santa was played by Dad

In the early 1950s, I was living in Mountain City, a small mining community in Northern Elko County. My mother was the teacher, and there were 10 students in one room which included the first through the fifth grades.

My dad served as the local Santa Claus. On Christmas eve, my mother, my sister, and I would pay a casual visit to the homes of the local children. After a few Christmas treats, a knocking would be heard at the door and much to the excitement of the unsuspecting children, Santa would enter in full-costume with a small gift for each child.

I can remember how grown up I felt as a 7-year-old, that those kids (many older than me) still believed in Santa Claus. I knew the truth — Santa was really my Dad!

Helen Oster

Carson City

Christmas tradition coming to an end

Hi, My name is Heather, and I live in Carson City. My holiday memory/tradition is that every year I watch 24-hours of “A Christmas Story.” I have been doing this for 5 years now. Sadly, this year I can’t do that because I don’t have cable. Thanks.

Heather Stevens

Carson City

A reason to believe Jesus saves

‘Twas Christmas Eve 2002, and about 7 p.m. when I was peacefully driving home, returning from filling a last-minute shopping list at a local department store. I was in high spirits and filled with a joyful sense of completion when suddenly I was sharply and dangerously run off the road by a speeding black car which swerved right in front of my car — diverting me off the highway from the outside lane I’d been driving in.

The perpetrating vehicle, I readily perceived, had a load, back and front, of apparently carefree and careless young people waving, shouting, screaming, and showing middle fingers at me through their car windows while I, at the same time, was leaning on my car horn. My instant reaction was to catch up with them — and then what? I wasn’t sure! I didn’t care because I was really heated up and now wanted justification!

So I then floor-boarded my gas pedal to catch up with my awful space invaders. Away I went, and as I got closer and closer, close enough that I could see and read the license plant on the dark vehicle. However, my eyes did not become fixed on the license numbers on the plate, but what I saw slowed me down, made me pull off the side of the road, stop, and take a few deep breaths because right across the top of the license plate and on a bumper sticker was the sign “Jesus Saves!”

How ironic! But that sign made me stop in my treaded tracks, sit, and prayerfully rethink the entire scenario.

Then as I sat, I asked myself some heavy questions — all the “what ifs ...” What if I had continued pursuing that ominous carload of belligerent young people — them against just me? What would the only, possibly dire, results be? I could now imagine that nothing good would have become of it as I sat there and tearfully realized.

I then turned my car toward home and was now safely on the road again with renewed, regained composure and peace of mind and heart and was truly justified by the Holy scripture passage, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.”

Yes, I have good reason to believe Jesus does save, so have a great, big happy birthday, Jesus! And so be it!

“Big Leaguer as Little Leaguer”

If God is umpiring, it couldn’t be sounder,

Who would not call a strike

If it’s truly a grounder.

It’s not all the same

In His field of game —

So, let Christmas time,

Our knowledge be

For the sake of Divine disparity

That His only son is its true founder.

Acclaimer: no apology’s in order for a naturally simpatico Santa Claus who does come in second in the Yuletide popularity poll because, according to simple research along with fairly widespread understanding, it’s quite joyous to remind that our cheery, full-bearded, red-white suited giver is a practicing Christian too!

Thane Cornell

Carson City


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