February 13-14, 1970
Since the first of the year, I had been chipping away at writing thank you notes for the hundreds of wedding gifts Nate and I had been blessed to receive. Although my original goal was to write 5 of them each evening (with more on weekends), I couldn’t keep up that pace. And though I had long since ditched that goal, little by little I was actually making progress.
I knew Mom would ask how many thank you’s I’d written so far. Most of our gifts had come from friends in her generation, and timely thank you’s were a must. People needed to know their gift had been received and that it was appreciated.
Earlier in the week a letter had come from her, detailing their weekend arrival and departure schedule. She had also written a few encouraging lines about my thank you notes:
“Many, many people tell me they are receiving “unusual” letters of thanks from you, Margaret. You’d be amazed at what the difference is when a bit of extra is put into such notes. You would be greatly surprised at how many people have mentioned your letters to me.”
I had to admit I was giving the process my all, more for Mom than the recipients of the notes. Not wanting to disappoint her, I had taken up her challenge to put something personal into each one. And it did make me feel better than if I’d written generically – though it took a great deal longer.
Nate was my faithful cheerleader and sometimes stood next to me, asking to read a note aloud. His laudatory comments and nonstop appreciation spurred me on. And he was especially tickled if he read a note thanking for any gift made of “monkey pod wood” — something new and popular at the time for salad bowls and their utensils.
If he came across those 3 words, “monkey pod wood,” inevitably he would double over with laughter so intense he’d have to brush tears away. Then his laughter would make me laugh, and the silly joke was so potent I didn’t dare use our monkey pod salad bowls if guests were over. It became one of those inside jokes between a husband and wife that no one else understood, a little secret between just the two of us.
And as they got into the process, their focus on cooking was intense. We all laughed each time a chunk of food would slip from their forks and disappear into the oil. When that happened, their comments were side-splitting funny. Aunt Agnes spent most of the meal on her feet, standing guard over the pieces of her dinner.
The next day we took them to the university arena where we saw the Ice Capades, a new show none of us had ever seen. Although Mom thought the girls’ costumes left too much flesh exposed, she had to admit the skating was phenomenal.
After that mid-afternoon performance, they had to hightail it back to Wilmette for evening commitments there, and Nate and I chalked up another happy connection with our relatives.
Although we forfeited our privacy whenever people visited, we had a lifetime to enjoy each other and knew we shouldn’t be selfish about sharing our lives and our home. Besides, it was always so much fun after guests were gone to once again be alone — together.
“Don’t forget to do good and to share…. These are the sacrifices that please God.” (Hebrews 13:16)