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NEWS FROM THE HILLS

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Dear Cousin,

 

To be the shortest month of the year, February seems to drag on the longest. It is sort of an in-between month, trailing along behind winter and yet not looking toward spring. It can be vicious and sneaky, with unexpected snowstorms and biting, cruel winds. Sometimes it drops a mild, sunny day to us, and then follows it with a bitterly cold one dripping with icicles.

It has always seemed the dreariest month of all. After the snow-covered landscape has melted, it reveals dingy yards, wintertime clutter and lots of mud. We all long for spring and yet we forget every year that there is a season called "Mud" that comes in between winter and spring. I am sure that it centers on February.

Every time I feel like griping and complaining, I remember Matthew's glad comment, "Mom, I'm alive!" and I am ashamed. Although it is dismal February, it is a month that God has made - and I am alive to enjoy it. I must remember that this too, is a work of God's hands. In Daniel it reads, "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: And He changeth the times and the seasons." (Daniel 2: 20-21) God is merely in the process of changing the seasons.

There are some bright notes in February. St. Valentine's Day comes right in the middle of the month, to cheer us with expressions of love and friendship. This day has come a long way since I was a little girl in grade school. It was a holiday mainly for schoolchildren to exchange their simple cards (many of them handmade). It was a rare thing to receive an elaborate "bought" card in an envelope, which was reserved mainly for the recipient for a case of puppy love. There was not a whole lot of boy-girl stuff going on in grade school then.

I remember the first real love letter I received. I must have been about 12 years old, and I was thrilled but too scared to bring it home. I hid it under a rock cliff that led down the path from Hagar School. That affair didn't get off the ground - or off the rock, I might add. This holiday has expanded to include every walk of life. You can find valentine cards to send to your dog, your dog's vet, or anyone else that you can name. Yet the little crudely lettered cards, yellowed with age, are the ones that I value most. They state simply, "I love you, Mommy" and "I love you, MawMaw." These are the treasures that money can't buy.

Money has brought some unique gifts to members of our family. I made an informal survey among members of our family to inquire the worst gifts that they ever received. Some of these were actually Valentine gifts, others were for birthdays or Mother's Day. When I asked our daughter Patty, she replied without hesitation, "Undoubtedly, it was the pair of knee socks with the cats on them that Randy got me for Valentine's Day. They probably would have fit one of the little granddaughters, and I don't care much for cats anyway!" (They are still married.)

Our daughter-in-law Sarah got a weed eater for Mother's Day. It's not as bad as it sounds - she asked for it. Our friend Angie got a power lawn mower, but she was thrilled - she had been using a push mower. Daddy got Mom a fishing rod one year, but she was happy. She liked to fish. My sister Jeannie got the prize package, however. At sundry times Jim bought her a fishing rod, a rifle and a guitar. (You can tell where his interests lie.) But he topped it all the time he brought her a 25-pound box of laundry detergent - and a live pig. (They're still married also.)

My niece Kara said the worst gift she ever got was a vacuum cleaner when she was expecting something sentimental and romantic. As a wedding gift, she was given the different gift of a fishbowl containing a tropical fish. She loved it. I loved what my cousin Sandy received from her husband Jimmy - a Chia pet and 1,000 antacid tablets. I figure he needed them after she opened her gift. Then there was the girl who had started working at a local bank and hinted to her husband that she needed some new clothes. He bought her a camouflage jacket. I don't think she wore it to work. My daughter-in-law Jennifer echoed my sentiments when she stated, "I don't think there is such a thing as a bad gift around here - anything is a bonus!" Kara ended her discourse with these words of wisdom: Never buy a woman a gift with an electric cord attached!

 

Love, Cousin Alyce Faye

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