Saturday, December 18, 2010

Personal Blog Moment: A Christmas Card Tradition

Una Mae's card came yesterday.

Christmas traditions are especially revered in our culture.  Everyone has certain small things that their family invariably follows year after year - special Christmas ornaments passed down that are put on the tree, foods that are always served at Christmas dinner, even the way presents are passed out.  For me the annual card from Una Mae carries on a very personal tradition.

Back in the fall of 1941 my father, Waldon Rothenberger, was serving in the U.S. Army at Westover Air Field (now Westover Joint Air Reserve Base) in Chicopee, Massacusetts, just outside of the city of Springfield.  In those uncertain days just prior to the United State's entry into World War II my mother Delana went to join him there, and on November 27th they were married in Chicopee.  Their first home together was an apartment in a private home in nearby Holyoke, Massachusetts.  There they became great friends with Una Mae Facetti, their landlord's daughter, who was of junior high age.

The next year Waldon was transferred to England and my mother came back to Kansas for the duration of the war.  In December 1942 she sent a Christmas card to Una Mae, who was very surprised.  She sent one back, and so an annual tradition of exchanging Christmas cards between the two began. 

In 1992 I got to make a trip with my mother back to Massachusetts, and Delana and Una Mae got to finally meet again face-to-face after 50 years of exchanging cards.  The two never met again but kept the card exchange going until my mother's passing in January 2001.  The following Christmas it just seemed natural for Una Mae to continue sending a card - this time to me.

Fast forward a mere 68 years later to December 2010 - well into  "The Digital Age" - and still a card made its way two weeks ago to Massachusetts, and this week a Massachusetts card made its way to back to Rural Kansas.  I wrote about my move to Lucas, Kansas and Una Mae wrote of new great-grandchildren and of snow and of the possibility of having to move as well from her home of many decades.  The news exchanged was small, but for a moment it made the distance halfway across the United States even smaller. 

Here's to one small holiday tradition hopefully continuing well into its seventh decade.


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