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  • by Carolyn Lackey

A Sentimental Journey

A few days ago, a friend shared a picture of one of her favorite sentimental Christmas decorations. Hers was an old photo of "Mawmaw and Bill" that had been tucked into a decorative Christmas frame. Mawmaw and Bill were two people who made her Christmases special. As I looked at the picture, her love for them made my heart happy. I know exactly what that picture means to her. Exactly.

You well know that ANY Christmas decoration that adorned Meems' house on Rockview in Waco is going to forever be sentimental to me. Especially now that Meems doesn't seem to know that it's Christmastime at all. She has made no mention of the Christmas tree standing tall in the living room of her assisted living home. She hasn't asked me to put up "her" tree in her tiny room. She hasn't asked me what I want for Christmas. Nothing. It's like she's wrapped in blankets while floating above time and space in her own little cocoon. A cocoon without birthdays and holidays.

One of my most treasured Christmas mementos is the Christmas card she made to send the first Christmas she and my dad were married. She created the design and then meticulously carved it out of an "Armstrong No. 8, 1/8 inch linoleum block." My heart swells every time I read the painstaking procedures she recorded in a sample card like a recipe on a recipe card. She was always the art student and archiver of how-to guides.

Look closely at the details carved into the linoleum block. The tiny strokes she used to carve out "Helen Dobo."

My father's name was Bill. For some reason, his parents nicknamed him "Dobo." My grandmother affectionately called her youngest child and only son "Dobie." I never knew why. Once in first grade, Mrs. McCrary needed to fill in some info on our permanent records. She explained that she needed the initials of each child's father. Down the list she went calling out students' names. "Susie? What are your dad's initials?" "L. T.!" "L. T.? Thank you!....John?" My palms began to trickle with sweat as I tried to think of what my dad's initials were. The only name I ever heard him called was "Dobo." I had never heard mention of his middle name. I hadn't been given a middle name when I was born. Perhaps my father also had only first and last names. My head almost exploded as I searched the nooks and crannies of my brain. Finally, I decided that I would say that his initials were "D. B." for Dobo.

As Mrs. McCrary came to the middle of the alphabet, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. I knew that D. and B. were not my dad's initials, but I had to say something. "Carolyn? What about your dad?" I drew in a deep breath, but before I could say anything she said, "Oh! I know your dad's! W. C.!" Relief flooded my whole body. Having not died of embarrassment, I would live to see another day. My mom taught 3rd grade in the same building, so Mrs. McCrary had some family info that I apparently did not. At dinner that night, I asked my dad what "W. C." stood for. William Charles. Nicknames can create so much confusion for a child.

It's the tiny scrape marks on the linoleum block that capture my attention and imagination and my heart. I can see my newly wedded mother bent over her kitchen table spending hours carefully scraping away everything that was not "Merry Christmas" and "Helen Dobo." I love the rough and soft textures of the manila paper and red tempera paint. I can feel my mother's hands as I finger the linoleum scrapes. I can hardly wrap my brain around the fact that these precious Christmas mementos are over seventy years old. Seventy.

Thanks, Meems, for the gift of timeless treasures. I know that more than once I teased you about being a packrat back when you lived on Rockview. Now, I am so, so grateful for this precious trail of memories. Hopefully, some day my boys will treasure what I treasure.

Thanks, Dana, for stirring my memories.

Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Kinzbach

I will share a couple of other sentimental Christmas items in a few days. What are some of yours? Would you post a picture in the comments below or under this facebook post? I'd love to see what your heart treasures.

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