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{For those of you who may have missed my Sunday post: Welcome, new friends}

Monday is almost over! Sorry for the late hour — it was a travel day. I didn’t have much time to write, so I’ll be quick and talk about a subject I already know and love: Christmas.

The holidays are big in my family. The other day I spoke of poems I know by heart, and one of Art’s Christmas poems falls in that category. “My Old Iron Rabbit” is one of our family’s perennial favorites:

My old iron rabbit
Still stands on the shelf,
A toy of my boyhood
I’ve kept for myself.

The poem was featured in a story by Grace Housholder of KPC Media Group in 1982. In the story, Art says he received the bank when he was 6 years old, which dates it to about Christmas 1919. I’m so glad someone in my family clipped the article, because it’s full of lovely stories I hadn’t heard:

Raised in Kendallville, the seventh of eight children, Indiana’s poet laureate recalls being bundled in blankets for a sleigh ride to downtown Kendallville. In the 1920s the merchants put up a Christmas tree on a platform at the corner of Main and Williams streets. … Each child received a paper sack with apples, bananas, oranges, crackerjack and Christmas candy.

That last detail, about paper sacks of fruit and candy, is a tradition my aunts continue every year at our annual family party. Nobody does Christmas like “The Aunts” do it!

Ruth and Art Mapes at home, Christmas 1957

There’s also a tidbit about my grandmother I found interesting and poignant:

Mrs. Mapes, one of 10 children, recalls one Christmas when her folks didn’t have any money. Her mother made her doll clothes — for the doll she shared with her sister.

To my knowledge, she kept that humility her entire life. She collected tiny figurines of elephants, a little frivolity in an otherwise very simple and frugal lifestyle.

Grace’s entire article is available here, and before I went on vacation, I updated the page with more clippings and photos, so check them out if you’re interested.

Look at that — more than 300 words. I guess I could ramble on about Christmas all night. Apparently, so could my grandpa! Browse the Poetry Archive for numerous holiday poems or perform a search using the search tool on the left side of the page. I like to keep my holiday-spirit well full all year long.