A Late Letter

After a few weeks of relying on Dorthyisms — reprints of Christmas columns written by my late mother, Dorthy Rickers — I find myself in the position of having to play catch-up with this blog. For many years, mom wrote an annual Christmas column that was a letter to her granddaughters, Gretchen and Ingrid. Starting in 2009, I took over the tradition by writing a letter to the next generation, her great-grandchildren, Mason, 5, and Millie, 2, who are my great-nephew and great-niece (son and daughter of Gretchen and husband Steve Ennis). I didn’t get it done this year before Christmas, but that was fortunate, because I have much more to write to them now, after our Rickers Christmas get-together.

Dear Mason and Millie,
Santa has come and gone, but Christmas 2011 has continued for a few more days during your annual visit to Worthington. Just the other night, we gathered in the basement of our Lake Avenue home for the Rickers Stocking Exchange. We drew numbers to see who would go first, and luckily both of you were among the first to open their stockings (well, your mom did switch with Mason so he could go earlier), because I don’t think you could have waited much longer.
Cousin Sue had your stocking, Millie, and she filled it with some of your favorite characters — Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty. We all laughed with delight every time you squealed “Dora” as her face was unveiled on a package. But the highlight of your stocking was a baby doll nestled in a tiny bassinet. The package says her name is Olivia, but you insisted she was just “Baby.”
You were dressed in the height of fashion — a tiny white fur vest over a black-and-white ensemble (a gift from your godmother, I was told), with gold shoes that squeaked when you walked and helped us keep track of your whereabouts, too. At age 2, you are a blur of light brown curls and laughter.
At one point in the evening, you repeatedly told me, “You going to jail,” as you played with the necklace around my neck. A bit baffled by this, and thinking maybe I misunderstood, I asked your mother about it, and she assured me I had heard right. Evidently it’s part of some game that you and your brother play. You said the same thing to your Great-Uncle Bryan and Aunt Michelle, so Aunt Ingrid (or as you and Mason call her, Aungrid) promised to bail us all out.
And speaking of your brother …
At age 5, Mason, you are looking so grown up, and you’ve taken so well to the role of Big Brother. Millie follows you everywhere and imitates everything you do, and you put up with it — even if she is a girl — without complaint.
While Millie likes Dora and dolls, you are much happier with cars and Transformers. During our Boxing Day gathering, our basement became a race track for your remote-control car, your relatives’ feet the obstacles in your way.
I’m also happy to note that you’ve become an artist. While waiting your turn with the stocking, you patiently colored a page in a Charlie Brown coloring book — and thoughtfully left it behind for me to hang on my refrigerator.
After getting moved up from No. 7 to No. 4 in the stocking-opening rotation, you carefully unwrapped each piece of the wonderful gift in your stocking. Great-Great-Aunt Jan (isn’t she great?) entrusted you with a wonderful Nativity set — a stable with all the characters in the Christmas story — that fits together like a giant wooden puzzle. How wonderful it will be for you to set it up at your home in Baxter!
And what a wonderful reminder of the legacy of faith in your family and the reason why we gather together to celebrate — Jesus’ birth: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Love, GAB (Great-Aunt Beth)