1/1/40 - Aunt Daisy and the Christmas "Chicken" BY-WAYS - 1/1/40 - Aunt Daisy and the Christmas "Chicken"

This is my second attempt at a letter. And I had wanted to write you an extra good one! But oh, Christmas covers a multitude of shortcomings. I always manage to be in a perfect fever of excitement by Christmas Eve. In two hours my adopted family will all be here - for tea (as the English say) - or for supper, as we say, and the opening of gifts. Three generations certainly make Christmas interesting... By the way, after my watching assiduously for the mail on Friday, the Saltsburg Press didn't come until yesterday, and Estelle and Charlie got hold of it while Virgil Jr., and I were away. It didn't spoil Charlie's Christmas surprise, for, as he said, he knew he would get a game from his brother - as usual. I thought they might resent the personalities - but they didn't. ***

One of the very nicest things about Christmas is the coming of Christmas cards. Don't you revel in them? I love every one of mine - and look at them so much that my family think it's a phobia with me. Then I haven't the heart to destroy them - but keep them until a new supply comes in. Of all the lovely cards there is none that I prize more than a plain government postal from a reader of the Saltsburg Press, who is, I take it, a shut-in. She made me feel that the six months of writing had all been worth while. A message like that warms the very cockles of one's heart. ***

Christmas will be all over when you get this; so let's reminisce a bit. The joys of Christmas are for the most of us tinged with a poignancy that approaches sadness, as we associate that day with a loved one who has passed beyond the horizon. It is ten years since my gentle blind father left us; and yet Christmas is not quite Christmas without him - for he personified the Spirit of Christmas. He would deny himself the whole year, so that he could give lavishly at Christmas-time. He not only believed it was "more blessed to give than to receive," but he derived a great deal more pleasure from giving. I must tell you of a Christmas, many years ago, when Father almost had me involved in an embarrassing situation. His lovely sister, Neva, was with us then. Aunt Daisy, as she was known to all her nieces, lived with us six years; during that time she was Santa Claus' ace helper - and treated the rest of us like children. She would smuggle packages into the house; and for a month before Christmas there would be the air of mystery about the house. When packages arrived by mail, she immediately appropriated them (as if we couldn't be trusted), and hid them in her closet. One year the packages seemed to start earlier, for a certain one came about two weeks before Christmas. I didn't even know of its arrival. Others came; and Aunt Daisy's closet was a veritable den of mystery. She finally had to take me into her confidence; there was a foul odor in her closet; timid as she was, she wouldn't call in Virgil to see if some poor creature had crawled in there and died. She discovered, herself, that the offensive odor came from this first package. It was nestled right in the corner - against the wall where the register was. We viewed it from a respectful distance, and found that it came from Saltsburg. By that time Father was on the scene (following the scent, no doubt) and we all wailed, "A chicken from Ina!" Great was our sorrow. With fitting ceremony - and a long-handled shovel, internment was made in a snowdrift in our back yard.

Now, Ina was Father's favorite niece, and he couldn't bear, after all that work on her part - the month's of feeding and fattening, to say nothing of the dressing and shipping of the chicken, to have to tell her its sad fate. He was the soul of honesty, but he thought in this case I should evade the issue a bit. He said, "Couldn't you say, we do appreciate the delicious chicken you sent us?" (It had been potentially delicious). Well, when it came to the actual writing of the letter, of course I had to tell her the sad truth. Immediately she replied, to relieve our misery. "Ha, ha! Don't feel bad. The 'chicken' was only a piece of fresh pork, from the butchering." (Which was bad enough). Aunt Daisy never hid any more mailed packages after that.

Now I must close. But let me wish you first a Happy New Year, with new hopes and new courage.

Faithfully yours,
Florence B. Taylor
4501 Lilac Road
South Euclid, O.

Next - 1/8/40 - Best Books of '39