With Christmas fast approaching, I am reminded of the Christmas of 1984. With their cousin Jessica Hadlock Sawdon, arriving shortly before Christmas, my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce wanted to do something special for her…even though they didn’t know then if the baby was a boy or a girl. We could have gone and purchased a blanket, an outfit, or a toy, but so could anyone else. The girls wanted their gift to be different from what everyone else was going to give. They were learning to crochet, and so it was decided that Corrie would make a blanket and Amy would make a bonnet. They worked very hard on their gifts, and on Christmas morning, they proved to be a stunning success. My girls beamed with pride at how their gifts were received.
So often, these days, Christmas has become so commercialized that it often isn’t about the gift given, but rather about just how much was spent on it, that seems to matter. But, on that Christmas, for my girls, it was about their gift being made with love. Every stitch they put in the blanket and bonnet was a learning experience for them, and they couldn’t wait to see what their Aunt Allyn and Uncle Chris Hadlock thought of the gifts they had worked so hard on. Needless to say, the blanket and bonnet were very happily received. Their gift was a huge success, and no one gave a thought to how much money was or was not spent on it.
There were a lot of gifst given that day, and I’m sure that many were wonderful, and very much appreciated, but I also know that my sister, her husband, and now Jessi all remember the gifts that were made and given with love by two little girls who loved their new cousin very much, even though they did not know her yet and in fact, didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl. The things we do for people out of love, while not necessarily expensive, are often the most treasured of the many things we receive over the years. They can’t be measured in a monitary way, because they are indeed priceless.
As Christmas approaches, of course, the most important thing to remember is the reason for the season…Jesus…the Saviour of the world. Jesus was the greatest gift, but in today’s world, I think it is always a good idea to remember more than just the gifts we received, but rather the spirit in which they were given. Whenever we act in love, we give the greatest gift we could have given…ourselves. And that is priceless for sure.
My great grandfather, Cornelius Byer was a friend of the Indians at a time in history, when that was rather uncommon. During his lifetime, the White Man was well known for backing out on treaties as the need or desire for more land warranted, resulting in the pushing back of the Indians further and further off of the land they had been promised. This of course eventually resulted in the placement of the Indians onto reservations, many of which still exist to this day. It also cause much contention between the Indians and the White Man, and of course, the Indian Wars. At that time and even beyond, many Indians did not trust the White Man, even after peace came about, however my great grandfather was a man they not only trusted, but indeed, loved and respected. Over the years, the family would see many times when the Indians would show up at the house, with their whole families in tow. The women and children always waited outside while the men went in to visit with Grandpa about whatever it was they had come for. For the children, I suppose all this seemed normal, but when we look at it in light of history, it seems strange to think of the Indians having such trust and respect for any White Man, and therefore strange to think that they came to the house, and that they were welcomed into it. Nevertheless, this is what happened, and Great Grandpa Byer went to their villages as well.
On one such visit to the Indian village of Chief Red Cloud, my grandfather, George Byer was allowed to go along. He recalled that when they entered the tent, Chief Red Cloud was sitting by a fire wrapped in his robe or blanket. Apparently it was customary in this case for him to have little or nothing on underneath that, so I almost have to wonder if it was a sweat lodge or something. Either way, that is what my grandfather recalled as a young boy of about ten years. His dad had gone to visit Red Cloud about something, and in during the visit, the peace pipe was passed around. When it was handed to my grandfather, he was allowed to take it and that resulted in his smoking the peace pipe for the first time as a very young boy, who was apparently considered man enough to do so by the Indians. I doubt if many of us can say, in this day and age, that they know someone who smoked a peace pipe before, but that is the truth.
My great grandpa was so greatly respected that not only was he asked to smoke the peace pipe with them, but when he was dying, a rather amazing thing happened. Because he had been their friend, the Indians came to pay their respects. As they had before, they brought their families, but this time the families did not stay outside. The braves came in to shake Great Grandpa’s hand, as did their wives, and their children. Every single one of them shook his hand…from the oldest to the youngest. It was such a moving show of respect for him, and one that was almost never afforded to a White Man. But then, Great Grandpa Cornelius Byer was their friend, and that made him more than just any other White Man. He was like a brother to them.
When we were moving things out of my in-laws’ house, so it could be sold, I noticed how lonely the house felt. A house needs people in it, creating memories, so that it can really have…life, so to speak. When its occupants are gone, taking with them all the memories that they made there, it just feels sad, somehow. Most times when that happens, the other people who spent time in the house never get to see it when new memories are being formed and the house is filled with people again. That is not to be the case with my in-laws house, however, because our nephew, JD is buying the house.
It will be a bachelor pad, at least for now, but that’s ok. The memories that still live within the walls will continue to echo for JD and for any of us who visit him. There were many good times had there, and because some of the things that belonged to my in-laws will remain in the home, we will often be reminded of their time in the home. I think especially for JD, the memories will remain strong, as he spends time in his new home, with the memories of his grandparents.
JD used to love to go over there and share talks and laughs with his grandpa. In fact, JD has never known a time when his grandparents lived anywhere else, since he was less than a year old when they moved there. All of his childhood memories of visits to his grandparents are centered there. I’m sure that JD will have many moments when he feels like his grandparents are right there with him. I know I would, but it will be a warm cozy feeling, like being wrapped in a warm blanket of memories.
It seems fitting that now, as JD is turning 25, and the house needs someone to live in it, that the two of them should come together. Both of them will be starting a new life…a new journey. Today is JD’s birthday. We are glad you are buying the house. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
During the Civil War, when so many of the young men were away fighting, the War Department made a call “to the Union-loving women of America on behalf of those noble fellows who have dedicated themselves to their country.” Many of the nation’s women quickly responded to the call, and the Ladies Aide Society was born. They held fund raising luncheons and suppers, where they accepted cash donations to purchase supplies for the hospitals where the soldiers were being treated. War wounds were only a part of the causes of death from the battles, in fact more than half of the men who died, were taken down by germs and unsanitary conditions. The efforts of the amazing women of the Ladies Aide Societies went a long way toward saving men who might otherwise have died.
Women had always been considered too weak and delicate to be exposed to the horrors of war, yet, they provided much of the supplies that gave the hospitals the ability to use fresh sanitary bandages and such to treat the men. Many of the women were not content to merely pine away for their men, fighting in the war, they wanted to do something to help out. Their contributions of supplies, food, clean clothes and nursing services fought disease. Something as simple as a new blanket sent from home could replace one that was infested with disease, possibly saving a life. Little did these women, or anyone else for that matter, know how important their efforts would be. What started with a few women, meeting in someone’s home trying to do something for their loved ones, grew into a nationwide effort, and in the end, no one doubted the ability of these women, who were thought to be far too delicate to see some of the things they saw.
Many young men didn’t come home from the war, because of the horrible injuries and the horrible conditions, but there were a lot more that came home than because of the efforts of these brave women who gave of themselves to make the conditions better for these soldiers. I seriously doubt if women were thought of as too delicate again after they showed just how strong they were in the Ladies Aide Societies of this nation.
My grand niece, Jala has very specific ideas about what she likes and what she doesn’t. Jala is 10 years old today, and when asked what she wants for her birthday, she said, “A yellow blanket, because it will match Sponge Bob!!” Now this is not an unusual request for Miss Jala, who is a collector of blankets. In fact, she has been collecting them for some time.
No blanket owner is safe from Jala. When she goes to her grandma’s, if my sister-in-law, Debbie, Jala’s grandma is making a quilt, well, it’s very likely that it will be leaving the house in Miss Jala’s arms. Debbie find’s it very hard to say no, so the best solution is to hide all quilts when Jala is on her way over. And Jala’s mom has an even bigger problem…where to put this massive collection of blankets. She can’t pack them away, because Jala wants different ones at different times, and remembers each and every one that she has. Before Susan’s younger daughter, Kaytlyn came along, the blankets took up the whole top of her closet, but now, she could really use the space for Kaytlyn’s things. Susan doesn’t mind having her daughter collect something, but she does hope that soon it will be something…smaller, maybe!!
As I said, Jala has very specific ideas about what she likes. And Jala loves her grandma’s dog, Sparkie. Since Debbie and Lynn got Sparkie about a year ago, Jala pretty much lives at her grandma’s house. She has taken it upon herself to train Sparkie to fetch, walk on a leash, sit, roll over, and shake hands. And this love is totally mutual, because Sparkie goes crazy when Jala shows up. They are almost inseparable.
Debbie and Lynn had to be in Casper last week, and Jala was very excited, because Sparkie was going to spend a few days at her house. Jala had great plans. Sparkie was going to sleep in her bed, and they were going to play all day. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned. Susan’s husband Josh was working that first night, and in the middle of the night, Susan woke up to find both of her daughters in bed with her. So…where was Sparkie? Well, Sparkie was sleeping peacefully downstairs in the dog kennel, with the door wide open. Unfortunately for Jala, Susan had told her sister, Kaytlyn that she could sleep with Sparkie the next night. Sorry Jala, but I hope your birthday is super!! Happy birthday!! We love you!!
From the time they were just little kids, my grandchildren have loved to visit me at work. Grandma’s work was a cool place to go, as well as a place they could go when they didn’t feel well, and their mom’s had to be at work. They would bring a blanket and pillow, and camp out under my desk, often sleeping the day away with no one but Jim, my boss, and me knowing that they were there. It was a place of refuge for them, and their mom’s and I knew they were looked after. Not many children got to go stay with their grandma at work, and we all knew what a great blessing it was, and what a great boss Jim is.
As they got older, the kids often came into my office after school, so they didn’t have to be home alone. They sat and read a book or did their homework until the day was over and then went home with their parents. I suppose it was a strange office in the eyes of many people who knew what went on there, but to me and to my grandkids, it was a blessed office…and a blessing to those in it. Yes, it was unconventional, but ours is an unconventional office. We are real people…not a corporation. Jim understands that sometimes life collides with the office…sometimes in bigger ways than others. Sometimes that means being away from the office, other times it means having an extra person in the office. Jim always allowed me to make our office a safe place for my grandchildren, and they in turn think of him as an uncle.
Sometimes, the turn of events can be strange to say the least. When you open the doors in a time of need, even such a small need as a sick child, you also open the door to what the future can bring. As Jim got to know my children and grandchildren, and allowed me to help them with their needs, he has also found several employees among them. Two of them, Amy and Shai work in our office now. Caalab is our part time maintenance man, mowing the grass at the edge of the parking lot and emptying trash, as well as helping with other odd jobs around the office. Corrie designed our website, and her husband Kevin took the pictures of the staff for the site. It’s funny that what began as a one man office, has now become a family affair, and the only non-family member is the boss…but, then again, we consider him family too…maybe by adoption of sorts. Not on paper, but in our hearts.