Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Great Eight



Daddy and me
My birthdays were always exciting.
Family. Good food. Cake.
And presents.
My fourth had been truly memorable, with a little barn fire thrown in for . . . umm . . . excitement.
But my eighth was memorable for two other reasons.
Let me explain . . .
It began ordinarily enough, with Mom's wonderful breakfast and good wishes all around.
Dad had gone into the city, on ranch business, and wasn't expected back until later, when us kids got home from school.
But that was okay, because I knew that my real birthday, complete with birthday food and cake and the all importnat presents wouldn't happen until supper time.
I went through the day with high anticipation.
I'm sure my teachers tried mightily to teach me something that day, but who can compete with birthday supper and cake?
And presents.
By supper time, I had worked myself into a rare mood.
Mom made my favourite.
Spaghetti.
With meat balls.
Mmmm.
Then the cake.
Again my favorite - Angel food.
With fluffy seven-minute frosting.
I should point out that the name of the frosting had to do with how long it took to make it.
Because it certainly didn't describe how long it took to eat it . . .
But I digress . . .
And then that moment.
The time I had been anticipating for an entire year.
When the wrapped boxes came out and were given the place of honour.
Right in front of me.
The first one was rather . . . book sized.
I tore into the colourful paper eagerly.
I should explain, here, that I had fallen in love with reading in the first grade, at the age of six.
Dr. Seuss had introduced me to world of books and I hadn't looked back.
By the time I was eight, I had graduated to the next step.
Chapter books.
And here, on my birthday, I was suddenly holding the greatest treasure I had ever seen.
Nancy Drew. The Secret in the Old Attic.
A chapter book.
All my own.
My world had just gotten bigger.
Then there was more.
A large, rectangular package.
Intriguing.
Reluctantly and reverently, I set down my precious new book.
And ripped into my other present.
The wrapping came off easily.
Revealing . . . Lego.
Lego?
What on earth was that?
I stared at the package.
Everyone stared at the package.
My father was well known for finding the new and the wondrous.
He didn't fail here.
I opened the box and poured out a stream of little red, white and blue blocks.
Of varying sizes and shapes.
I unfolded the brightly-coloured instruction sheet.
And my world got bigger, still.
I needn't tell you that my Nancy Drew collection expanded to include every volume ever written.
Or that Lego became a large part of the Stringam world that day.
And that a major part of playtime, for three generations now, consists of amazing feats of construction with myriad colourful blocks.
Or reading.
I only need to tell you that everything began on my eight birthday.
A day truly worth celebrating.

11 comments:

  1. Dads know just the right thing don't they? How is he doing by the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do. I've concluded that they're magic!
      Dad's doing much better! We figured out what was triggering the worst attacks and he's been able to stay on top of them. He's eating regularly now and has lots more energy. Thanks so much for your concern!

      Delete
  2. Seven minute frosting! The best. Our mother's must have had the same cookbook, The Settlement House Cookbook. Ours has been rebound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That name sounds SO familiar! I think it might have been the same book. Lost in the mists of time, however! :(

      Delete
  3. Some special days just stand out, don't they?

    So glad to hear your father is doing better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah, LEGO. The ultimate kids' imagination tool...

    I remember one time we spread out one of the big blankets and upended the entire box on it. I don't think we left that blanket the entire weekend...

    I made a golden mansion with everything yellow I could find...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I remember that weekend. Quiet house. Scrrtch! Scrrtch! sound of kids raking through the lego. Ah, the memories!

      Delete
  5. Lovely.

    You surprised me with the Legos. When I was about that age, one of the boxes I unwrapped for Christmas was a Lego box -- but inside was a tiny, China tea set. One surprise on top of another!

    I loved that tea set...

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never got a tea set. Both of my sisters did. I got . . . horse statues, farm animals, and lego. What do you suppose my dad was trying to tell me?

      Delete
  6. Yes Diane, that day was truly worth celebrating... I loved all the wonderment:)

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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