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Minonk Talk introduces Tales from the Heartland which is a series of letters written by Virginia McBride to her family. Mrs. McBride writes about her life experiences in a unique and refreshing manner. We are grateful that she has given us permission to publish her letters.

Merry Christmas

by Virginia McBride

I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book,
And every year at Christmas time I go and take a look.
And this is when I realize that these names are a part,
Not of the book they're written in, but of my very heart.
For each name stands for someone who has crossed my path sometime,

And in that meeting they've become the rhythm in each rhyme. While it may sound fantastic for me to make this claim,
I feel that I'm composed, in part, of each remembered name.
And while you may not be aware of any "special link,"
Just meeting you has shaped my life more than you'd ever think.
For once I've met somebody, the years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word or of a friendly face.

For I am but a total of the many folks I've met- You happen to be one of those I choose not to forget.
And, whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some way you have had a part of shaping things I do.

So every year when Christmas comes, I realize anew The best gift life can give to me is meeting folks like you.
I pray the Christmas spirit that everyone endures,
May leave its richest blessings in the hearts of you and yours.

Author Unknown

As I take pen in hand and begin my 'Christmas card' to you I have a wish! Wouldn't it be neat if my copier could copy color and so reflect the beauty of the season? Red and Green for Christmas, Gold for the Majesty of His royal birth, Blue for royalty, Green for the new life He brings and White to satisfy those praying for snow. After all why have skates and sleds, snowmobiles, scarves and mittens if there isn't a bank of snow to challenge? Then also my above poem would glow with love, prayers and good wishes. Just know it does anyway even if you can't see it! My, I have such smart readers, you've recognized the poem, you saw it before in 2000. In going through my huge box of clippings, articles and cartoons- there it was. I liked it before, I like it again. It says so neatly what's in my heart. Consider this December newsletter your Christmas card complete with proper sentiments. God Bless the birthday of the Christ Child in each and every home and heart.

Isn't the world moving at a fast pace these days? I hope you are praying for peace, the world needs a good helping of brotherly love, times are critical and scarey. I thought we'd never get used to 2000. 2001 flew by and 2002. 2003 approaches head on.

Let's have a bit less emphasis on gifts and decide just WHO is having a birthday. Years ago when Christmas came gifts were meager. Santa Claus (I) would save up $5.00 a child for gifts. I felt so extravagant! We'd get a Christmas catalog about the day after Thanksgiving. Are you laughing? Each year following that day changed, mid Nov., Nov. 1st, mid Oct., Oct.1st, until in later years I'd grab the catalog in Sept. and hide it way far under my mattress. I'd bring it out Dec. 1st and the dreaming began, each child's dreaming took its toll and the poor dream book became more tattered and bedraggled by the day. Along about Dec. 15th would come a super sale catalog. Most items pictured were only samples. If one ordered a doll you took what you got and many times the doll was a leftover of a more expensive model. Girls- remember the cute baby dolls that came with little highchairs? They were supposed to do lots of exciting baby things, didn't do them all- but enough. Funny I never worried if I sent an order the middle of Dec. it would always come on time and postage was cheap! Now-a-days with our expensive mailings and rapid transit and computers etc., etc. one can wait 3-6 weeks for an order to arrive. Explain that- no don't, I wouldn't believe it. Tinker Toys were usually listed in the sale catalog and were very popular on our road. I approved of Tinker Toys, a little man could spend hours creating fantastic imaginings. It was wonderful but in later years, if I hadn't been so busy!!!! I should have complained to the TT Company. They changed the formula for the sticks, wheels and knobs. Everything was plastic and in a few days nothing held together. Wood has give to it. Place a stick into a hole and it held tightly. Plastic slid out and this beautiful suspension bridge collapsed. I should have complained and I'm sorry.

I miss the cooking I needed to do to provide for a celebration. Each day provided opportunity to cook, in Dec. it became a double job. Noodles to make, cookies by the bushel (almost), candy, popcorn balls, duck to pick. We were particular about when we picked ducks. If there was a sudden cold snap- don't pick a duck, they'd be sprouting extra feathers and pin feathers are a time consuming challenge, a pain in the duck! Ducks were important, the ones roasted at Thanksgiving time provided the 'shortening' (I didn't say FAT, that's a nasty word now-a-day). It was as good as butter for baking, made super cookies and rich bread dough. The neck, feet, wing tips and tail made such good rice soup and then add dressing with a roasted carcass, very yummy. Pies and cakes, kolaches and rolike, koblihy, an old fat (oops) hen for noodle soup, nuts and hard Christmas candy, lets have a plain old fashioned MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Virginia McBride
Elma, Iowa