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Another Day in the Country

Giving thanks

© Another Day in the Country

The Fourth of July will be here before you know it. An intrepid committee led by Jeannie is determined to have a parade.

She’s put a notice at the post office in my hometown, Ramona, Kansas, population 100, plus or minus. We are going to have a parade July 6. Come one, come all!

I love a parade, so I immediately began thinking what we could pull off “at our age” as far as a float was concerned.

My sister wonders why I can’t be content to just watch the goings-on, but I think it’s more fun to add to the hoopla.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering what costumes we still have in the garage.

Said garage used to be brimming with all kinds of costumes, but through the years we’ve downsized, donating them to various schools and drama clubs.

There’s still a headdress and torch for Miss Liberty out there, but a couple of months ago I sent off the last vestige of my Uncle Sam paraphernalia. It was a top hat.

Through my years writing this column, avid readers know that I often mention my long-ago friend Dr. Shaw, who loved playing the part of Uncle Sam — especially in April and on the Fourth of July.

It was his custom for many years to show up at his local post office April 15 and personally thank people coming in to mail their tax returns.

With online submissions common now, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

A distant relative of Doc’s texted me the other day to see whether I still had his Uncle Sam costume.

We’re talking about a man who died 24 years ago. She said she had a grandson who’d heard of his great-great-uncle’s shenanigans playing Uncle Sam and wanted to do something for a talent show.

“Sorry, the suit’s been donated,” I said, “but I still have Doc’s Uncle Sam hat.”

She wondered whether I’d be willing to give it to her grandson, and I said I would.

“Give me his address,” I said,
“and I’ll send it to him.”

It took me a bit to find the right kind of box, but eventually I packed it up and sent it off to this unknown teenager in Idaho.

I felt really good about giving this gift, even though I’m quite fond of the hat and have used it on occasion with glee during the last couple of decades.

Now seemed the right time to present it to a younger generation, so off it went.

A couple of months have gone by since I sent it. Even in quiet Ramona, I do keep busy. My mind was on other things.

There’s Easter, when I went flying to California. There’s yard work, our big art show at Centre, and yard work, Memorial weekend with all its guests, and more yard work. Then there’s River Festival in Salina, the big rain, and that endless yard work — which I love doing, by the way.

The next big occasion coming would be the Fourth of July, and I’m wondering what costumes we still even have so we can join in the parade.

It was then that I thought of the Uncle Sam hat that I’d had so much fun sending off to this unknown person.

I imagined him getting it and being excited. Maybe he looked so striking he won a prize at whatever occasion he wanted to wear it.

Then I wondered, “Did he even get it?”

Yes, I know the post office gal gave me this little sticker so I could track the package, but I rarely feel a need to track packages partly because I’m usually sending packages to my kith and kin. They always let me know and say “thank you” when a gift arrives.

Thank-you notes seem to be going out of style like Christmas cards. But my sister, the queen of thank you notes, continues to shower anyone within her reach with notes of appreciation.

She even sends them to me — and I live just across the street!

“Don’t they just brighten your day,” she says, already beaming. “Every chance we get we should be saying ‘thank you’ to the folks around us.” 

Saying please and thanks is one of the earliest social graces we’re taught, but sometimes we forget to exercise those niceties.

It’s never too late to rejuvenate the custom. Not to acknowledge a gift, even from a stranger with a return address on the box, is just bad manners, and it robs the giver of the joy of knowing that you’ve received the gift safe and sound.

This week, I’m saying “thank you” right here in the Marion County Record to my neighbor Kathy, who came to my rescue last Tuesday.

I’d just driven to Abilene to exercise, with continuing obligations in Salina, when I heard from folks at the newspaper office that an email that should have contained my weekly column hadn’t arrived.

I didn’t have time to go back home.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “Let me see if I can resend the email from my phone.”

When I opened the email, it was empty. No column. How did that happen?

I called Kathy.

“Would you go over to my house and resend my column to the newspaper? Call me when you get there, and I’ll walk you through the steps.”

This was embarrassing! My office was a mess. My computer is old and idiosyncratic. Could I explain things well enough so she could do it?

She did it! Saved the day on another day in the country. Thank you, my friend.

Last modified June 26, 2024

 

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