Downriver Dispatches


December 1, 2022

Old Santa with Ben dog in Karen's house. Photo by Karen Bertroch.

On Thanksgiving, I spent the day in my robe just watching football and movies. My recommendation for this holiday season is on Netflix: "Slumberland." Enjoy!

Venue Change for FAFF Concert from Barbara Swanson: The Finnish American Folk Festival group presents its annual Christmas concert/tour of homes and soup supper on Sunday, December 4. The concert will be held upstairs at the Naselle Community Center: 14 Parpala Road, Naselle, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Memorial for Kenny Chapman: A service for Kenny Chapman will be held at Rosburg Hall on Saturday, December 3 from 1-3, sponsored by the American Legion.

Christmas Stories? In the last Dispatch, I asked for Christmas memories in a story. I hope kids will take time to interview grandparents and send in their own story. Wouldn't that be fun?

Photo of the week: Old Christmas "Santa." This old Santa has been a treasure for me. I have always had a soft heart for old "stuff" that reminds me of my Grandma Nellie. I am fortunate to have her rocking chair, her collection of cream pitchers in a beautiful walnut cabinet, and photos of myself when I was little. I met my father only once when I was three or four years old at Grandma's house, so the photos of his visit are priceless. Like many of us in our older years, I love having things in my home that bring memories back that make me smile. It seems our boomer generation has a love of things that represent the best memories of our past with people we still love. It is so painful losing the folks we have loved. Many of those folks were from the Great Depression years when money was more than tight. Grandma Nellie didn't have a lot of nice things, but what she did have was an "open house" of love and hospitality. She took care of me till I was nine years old, with an uncle who had been castrated back in the years when that was a common response to mental illness. He was a kind older man who took care of me when Grandma worked at her job at the courthouse.

When my mother married her third husband, she took me and a brother with her to Indianapolis, a big city very different from Grandma's house in rural Indiana. So many changes came. Life was so gentle in Grandma's house. No one yelled much; instead we had laughter. I loved the pear tree just in front of the closed-in front porch. I would climb that tree and hide from everyone for fun, but Grandma always knew when I went up there that I just wanted to be on my own so she would leave me there for a long time without saying a word to me. I have been like that for all these years, liking to be on my own, but I well remember my loss of freedom when we moved to the city. Grandma's house was the place where I knew the greatest love, affection, and comfort. This old Santa brings me good memories of days when I was safe and loved.

Several years ago, I was helping my neighbors clean out a storage area. Santa was with the dump pile. I looked at him and could almost see the many times he had been on display with the older family. I asked if I could have him and my neighbor said yes. He has been with me for several years now and I am sure folks driving by see him each year and wonder why I keep him on display. His paint is chipped, but his eyes are the same blue they've always been. I love him because he looks like what Grandma would have had in her window during the holidays. She always got a tree from a farmer she bought vegetables from. He delivered produce with his farm wagon and horse, much like the Zimmerman's CSA boxes today. I loved his huge tomatoes that he picked out just for me. He usually delivered on Fridays, so that was a fun day when he let me have a big tomato first thing. I would eat it before Grandma came home from work. Once he let me ride with him for several blocks while he told me about his family's farm. He was an old black man who laughed at this chatty little blond girl who called him Mr. Farmer. It was a different world built of trust and neighbors who all knew me. Mr. Farmer taught me about Indiana history and gardening and why we should let the horse who pulled the wagon stop when he got tired so he could rest for a bit. He was never in a hurry because he had plenty of time to make his deliveries.

For nine years, my world revolved around Grandma Nellie. When I had to go live with my mother, my world shrank quickly in the city and I became fearful of strangers and loud noises. Years ago, I had some Christmas ornaments of hers that are long gone now, but I remember them and holidays in her house. Children are so blessed to grow up with grandparents, especially at Christmas time. If you are a grandparent, treasure the time you have with the grandkids. Like life itself, nothing lasts forever, except love. When you see Santa in my window at my house on Loop Road, think about your memories of your family at holiday time and please send those memories to me to share in this column. Enjoy the season and all that Christmas gives us.


December 3: Tree lighting after Bazaar at the Naselle Community Center 10-4.

December 3: American Legion Memorial Service for Kenny Chapman at Rosburg Hall 1-3.

December 3: Annual Art Show at Grays River Grange from 1-4 p.m. with local artists.

December 4: Concert at Naselle Community Ctr at 1:30, home tour 2:30 to 4:30, and soup 4-7.

December 7: Senior Lunch at Rosburg Hall at noon.

December 10: Craft Day/Make a Christmas Centerpiece at Johnson Park 11 – 2. (360) 355-0472.

December 18: After dark, drive around the area to see holiday lights from 6 to 9 – light up your house, then take a fun drive and pray for a clear sky!

December 21: Senior Lunch (Christmas theme) at noon at Rosburg Hall.

December 31: New Year's Eve 2023 at Johnson Park from 9 p.m. to midnight. Potluck, games with family and friends/ Weather permitting.

Senior Lunches: CAP/Thursday Senior Lunches are now located inside Rosburg Hall at noon. The next Wednesday Senior Lunch will be on December 7 at Rosburg Hall at noon.


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