(A message from Art’s granddaughter, Angie)

I received a message yesterday from Walter Weaver, formerly a radio broadcaster in Kendallville. In 1964, he recorded some of Arthur Mapes’ Christmas poems for a WAWK broadcast. Walter’s son Wade has reproduced the recordings, which were originally digitized by my uncle, Dean Mapes, and shared them on YouTube as videos illustrated with still images. You can read Walter’s kind words of remembrance and find the poems here. Thank you, Walter and Wade!

I recognize that it is hard for many to get into the spirit of the season this year. Our Mapes family, too, is grieving a loss. Darlene May Frye, the daughter of Arthur and Ruth Mapes, and my “Aunt May,” passed away Dec. 9 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She leaves behind countless family and friends who loved her very much, as she loved them.

Aunt May was incredibly proud of her dad’s poetry, accompanying him to school visits and later pitching in wholeheartedly when the family raised money for his memorial scholarship with a beef vegetable soup booth at the Apple Festival of Kendallville.

Sisters May (in back), Kay, and Jean

Every year, our Mapes family has gathered together for a family Christmas party. Aunt May shared her father’s poetic streak, and she loved Christmas as much as her parents, who always managed to make it special, even with ten children! Many years, she would write a new Christmas poem and give it to her extended family as a holiday gift. These poems reflected the joyful anticipation of the season and her love for celebrating with family. She had a wonderful laugh and sense of humor, and at every Christmas party, she and her sisters also gifted their extended family with a hilarious rendition of the 1950s song, “Are My Ears on Straight,” choosing new members of the audience to pick on each time as they acted out the silly lyrics.

The Mapes Sisters — “The Silver Belles” (Kay, May, Marilyn, and Jean)

“Christmas Is Love,” as one of Grandpa’s poems said, and Aunt May was the spirit of Christmas year-round, sharing her loving example by acts of generosity and caring throughout her entire life. I plan to take a moment by the fire to listen to these poems so kindly shared again by Walter, and reflect on the joy of Christmases past and the promise of Christ’s birth. Whatever challenges or losses you have faced this year, may the new year will bring comfort, peace, and light.