At Christmas I made place-cards for everyone. They stood on little easels at the table. They were place-cards without names, just funny little pictures that made me think of each person.
Each member of the family is unique — just like everyone else.
I wish I had taken a better picture of the collection, but here’s who each one represents.
Row 1 (left to right): Mary — a little Richard Scarry bunny writing at a desk. Bud had just painted her walls of her bedroom lavender, the very color I had wanted the walls of my bedroom when I was a child (but it didn’t happen).
“Fred” — he’s the photographer at family events, so I found a little man taking pictures. He’s snapping a shot of a dwarf crossing a bridge.
Philip — an army man at a Sandra Boynton nativity. Philip played with those green plastic army men at my parents’ house as a little boy. Years later, we would find a sniper hiding in a plant, or a radio guy behind a lamp.
Owen — a Richard Scarry cat catching a fish from Tikki-Tikki-Tembo water. Owen loves to fish. A dog would have been more appropriate for him because he loves dogs too — but Richard Scarry didn’t have a dog fishing picture.
My brother, Jim — he raised sheep, and may even still have a few.
Row 2: Karl — Grumpy Santa (Sandra Boynton) standing on the porch of a house. It just made me laugh. Karl does that.
Henry, my grandson — loves Curious George.
Emily, Owen’s wife — the only one with a name on it. I knew she had to have it.
Sharon, Jim’s wife — a dragonfly because I know she likes them.
Laurel — Pooh and Piglet and a goose. Laurel wanted Winnie the Pooh in hers. I liked the way they were leaning back to look up at the goose.
Row 3: Donna, Sam’s wife — I read somewhere that a cardinal represents lost loved ones. Her mother passed away while she and Sam were dating. Plus snow because British Columbia and snow.
Bud — Bud loves building fires and sitting and staring into them. It’s a Zaengle thing. Zaengle gatherings with his siblings almost always include bonfires and just sitting around the fire talking.
My dad — he was a doctor so I found a little doctor for him.
Helen — she has always loved the beach. I even sprinkled a little sand and put some real tiny shells on hers.
Amanda, Philip’s wife — She’s Henry’s mother, and it seemed appropriate to give her a mother and child.
Row 4: My brother, Peter — he teaches science. I’ve gone with him several times in the summer when he takes kids to the biological field station on the lake where the kids look at all sorts of life under microscopes.
My nephew, Ben — he’s very musical and had just starred in his school’s middle school musical.
Sam — like hiking, works at an outdoorsy store, and the boots made me think of him.
Me — the only one I didn’t make. Mary made mine for me. I love how she put a little rabbit comforting/encouraging the tired housewife. This is my life.
Diana, Peter’s wife — two literary rabbits. She’s an English teacher and loves books as much as I do. I thought she would appreciate these two classic characters meeting each other.
And to finish it off, here’s a family photo of my family taken this Christmas. I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful family.
Bud said to me, as we were driving home from the Albany bus station after dropping Sam and Donna off so they could fly back west, “We did a good job, didn’t we?”
So far, so good.
I love these people.