We called my grandpa Cranford Ingham’s third wife Aunt Wathena. She had been my dad’s legal secretary. She became my godmother at my infant baptism in the Episcopal church. She had grown up in various overseas embassies, mostly in Latin America. Her dad worked for the State Department. She was used to making due with what was at hand and improvising when necessary. Both she and my grandpa were extremely thrifty. They lived well, in the upper middle class, with a house with a pool and a stable with horses in White Bear Lake, MN, and another in Sun City, AZ. But they did not want to spend money needlessly.
Wathena would do her Christmas shopping for all of the Minnesota relations during the summer, wrap them and deliver them to the respective families in September, before she and Cran departed for Arizona for the winter. Well, she was also loathe to ‘waste’ money on gift wrap. She would carefully unwrap any gifts received and reuse the paper, if the store did not include free gift wrapping.
It was Christmas 1966, Aunt Wathena did not have enough salvaged Christmas paper for our gifts, so she wrapped them in the Sunday comics from the newspaper. My mom stored the gifts with the tree lights and ornaments so she would remember to get them out for Christmas. She could not bring herself to put them under the tree, being that they were wrapped in the funny papers. She figured she would bring them up on Christmas morning. Well, in all the excitement of that morning, they were forgotten.
It was March, and my mom asked me why I never wrote a thank you note to Grandpa & Aunt Wathena. I told her, because I didn’t get a gift from them. She turned white, then red, then sent me down to the storage closets in the basement to retrieve the gifts. We all opened our gifts and wrote very contrite thank you notes to Aunt Wathena, apologizing for our tardiness and inconsideration for not having written sooner. We covered for mom. It was just too funny. Plus, we had the added bonus of a bit of Christmas in March!
I am writing this on January 11, 2017. I haven’t written my Christmas thank yous yet. My mom would be so disappointed. For all those people who have given to this ministry through the years: THANK YOU! We have enjoyed giving your money and stuff away! We continue to give money and stuff away, as we are able. The people who have received the money and stuff we have given away are also grateful and bless you! The numbers at the top of the article and the 11 are from my Fun-A-Day art project. I’m learning to number my days. I’m painting a new number each day to be exhibited at an art show in Lansdale on February 18. I am also doing this with my granddaughters. It’s great fun!
It’s already January 11. Now write your Christmas Thank Yous!