As I sit down to write the column for March and April, I find it hard to project myself this far ahead. You see, it is five days before Christmas, and Christmas seems to be a season that somehow claims all of you. A greeting came from a reader of the Iron Men Album from Granton, Wisconsin. He is a Mr. Free McHone. This gentleman has sawed lumber and threshed for sixty-one years. He has a portable saw mill, and a stationery mill run by steam. Thank you, Mr. McHone! He also affirms the fact that the corn chopping machine I mentioned in the Jan.-Feb. issue of 1970 was, indeed, a Hexel Machine. So, here, you see, is another man who reads the I.M.A. thoroughly.
I suppose Christmas is so special this year because it is our first one in our new home. After thirty-seven years of having the piney mess of a Christmas tree in the house, we put ours outside this year. We didn't have to ask any of the children what they thought about it. There weren't any here to ask!
Another thing, I never heard, once, while I was doing the trimming: 'O Mother! That looks stupid there! It would look so much better on that other wall.' And, 'You have too many blue lights together on the tree.' And, sometimes, 'Do you mean you are going to put that old thing up again?' 'That old thing' was, of course, some relic from my childhood!
But this year I have had a gloriously free hand! And I think the results are rather good. The tree is right outside of our big front windows. The snow obligingly fell on it right soon. It is flocked with white, and I had none of the work. I used some brown shoe polish on Joseph's head, where the paint was chipped off a bit, and he looks ten years younger.
Now don't get me wrong. I love all of our children! I love them very much! But just in case there are some of you who are dreading your first Christmas by yourselves, I want to point out some advantages. We will have three of them home for the day, with their mates and three grandchildren, but, to be honest with you, I haven't ever had this much fun getting ready for Christmas. I can fully savor it this year.
The adult Sunday School Class, which I teach, were out here for a party one evening last week. They presented me with a seven blossom poinsettia. It is so beautiful! It lights the whole room! There were forty-one of us and we had a wonderful time playing games and singing carols. They brought a sumptuous lunch, and we furnished coffee, tea, and punch. We did have a moment or two of doubt when we began to count noses of our members and their partners. It could have run over seventy. That was one time it was good that everybody didn't come! We ended the evening by burning all the paper plates and cups in the fireplace. It was a real blaze!
Another thing this winter has brought is new hope to me as a writer. There is a very good chance of my latest book finding a publisher! I am supposed to have the manuscript ready by February first. 30,410 words are already typed, and there are somewhere around 20,000 more to get down on paper. So, the cold days of January will find me glued to my working chair. The book is on the year of retirement, taking it month by month. The title will be, COUNTY TRUNK M.
Not too long ago we had unexpected callers one day. I like unexpected callers! The element of pleasure in a surprise seems to work well for us. Ann Landers declares you shouldn't come without calling ahead. I feel that true friends will understand if your house isn't in perfect order. My best friends certainly do, and I love them for it! Two of those who are dearest to me shove their newspapers aside, pick the cat Out of the chair, if need be, and we sit down and visit. We never look at whatever disorder there might be, because we know, underneath it is clean. One day, when I apologized a bit to a man at the house on business, he replied, 'Oh, Mrs. Baber, that is just clean dirt! Just the disorder of living! But you should see some places I get into. They have dirty dirt!' You know, he helped me a lot that day, for at the time, all six children added to the complication of keeping an orderly house. Now it is no trick at all.
But getting back to our callers..... There were four of them. Art Frase, a well-seasoned steam man, brought his daughter, Charlotte, who is Mrs. Frank Hussli of Beaver Dam, and Gloria, another daughter, Mrs. Keith Steiner and her young son John to visit us. Of course, you know what the men looked at, Alfred's steam engine! Mr. Frase owns an Advance, a Nichols & Shepard, and a Case engine now. Not too long ago he owned a 110 Case Engine which he brought in from Montana. We called on him shortly after it arrived here. As our good friend told us of that long journey with his prize, he almost became poetic as he spoke of the sun rising over those Montana hills as they were loading it. I expect he has relived that experience many times when he sees the sun coming up in the morning.
Art and Viola Frase had the great privilege of observing their fiftieth wedding anniversary on September 16th of 1970. Open House was held at Charlotte's home in Beaver Dam. We were invited and had a most enjoyable time. They are blessed by seven grandchildren, from the little fellow who came to see us, to two twenty-year-old boys, nearly men. They were a happy family that day!
But happiness has not always been their lot. Their only son, Harrison C. Frase, was killed in World War II on his tenth bombing mission. And all these years later we have still not learned to love our fellow man, and get along in this world! Blood is still being shed!
I ponder on this as I watch two pair of beautiful cardinals flitting around our new dooryard, and visiting our bird feeder. God has given us so much! He has given His only son for us! And we are still shedding the blood of young men, such as Harrison Frase was, back then. What is the answer? Of course, the real answer is Christ in the heart of each individual, but by and large, men will not accept this Prince of Peace. May 1971 bring a real revival in the hearts of our fellow men, we pray. This is our wish for each one of you as the year progresses: the 'peace that passeth all understanding.'