My sister wrote the following story about a mistake our Grandfather had to fix.
If you were a fan of Stewart's (I was), try to read this story in his voice and imagine how Dave and Morley would have portrayed the events.
Quite a few years ago, my Grandma, then 83 or so, was pretty much homebound while waiting for a hip transplant. She could get around the house with a walker but the visits beyond those four walls were far and few between.
She’d always sent out Christmas cards to her extensive list of family and friends. My grandparents, having travelled a lot in their prime had friends literally all over the globe. Some just got the cordial Merry Christmas in their cards, but most were decorated with some little story she thought would interest the person on the other end.
She was very organized about her cards. After she’d completed all the cards, she put them in envelopes and ensured they all had the correct postage to reach their destination in time for Christmas. There were 3 or 4 bundles of cards to be mailed and as she was housebound that year she gave them to my Grandpa, "Gramps" as all us grandkids used to call him, to mail at the post office
The very next day Gramps set out in their minivan to mail the cards. He knew that getting these cards in the mail was very important to Grandma and he didn’t want to delay and then have to hear her asking again and again if he’d mailed them yet.
Sometime in June of the following year, Gramps showed up at my Mom’s house unannounced, uninvited but always welcome. It was odd that Gramps would just show up when Mom lived a good 40 minutes away. My mom was in the yard gardening when he arrived in the old beater farm truck.
He got out and went over to her making some small talk about the weather and how nice her gardens looked. Then he just stood there wringing his hands. He’d lost 2-1/2 fingers on one hand in a corn auger accident years earlier but he still had the mammoth-sized farm hands from years of hard labour in the barn and fields. “I’m in trouble Janice” he started “I need you to come to the truck with me.”
Mom now worried about what was so urgent that it caused her father to drive 40 minutes in the farm truck in the middle of the day.
The two of them walked over to the truck. Gramps opened the door, reached across the manure-scented seat and popped open the glovebox. From it, he produced one stack of unmailed Christmas cards from December. “What do I do?” he begged with the look of a ten-year-old boy who knows he’s about to get busted. “I found them under the seat of the mini-van when I was cleaning it yesterday. The only thing I could think of was to rush them into the truck -- your Mom never gets in this dirty old thing -- and come ask you for help...what do we do???”
Mom stared at the letters. Her father would sure be in trouble if he ever told Grandma about the letters not being mailed. Her first thought was to just throw them out, Christmas was long over and no one would care they hadn’t gotten last year’s Christmas card.
But then she had a more devilish thought...why not mail them in June. Grandma will be none the wiser and it would be a shame if no-one received the notes that she had taken the time to write for them.
So that’s just what they did. They drove to the local post office in the stinky old farm truck. On the way there, Mom noticed that the postage was no longer correct. At the start of the New Year, postage had increased by 1c and each of the letters would need an extra penny stamp put on them. With the correct postage, the stack of Christmas cards was mailed in June.
Grandma’s hip had been replaced by this time but she still wasn’t overly mobile. So, she spent a great deal of time in her chair in the living room watching TV, doing crosswords or watching the birds eat at the feeders outside the window.
Within 3 days, the calls started coming in. And Grandma was in her glory. Not only were all of her friends calling her to thank her for the newsy Christmas card they just received, but now every single person that came over to visit her had to hear the story of how people were just receiving their Christmas cards now...in June! And how Canada Post must have lost them for months but then found them and put them back into the mail stream. In her eyes Canada Post was amazing!
Since some of these letters were going to England and Australia, the calls went on for near a month.
No one ever questioned the extra penny stamp on the postage, nor did anyone bother to look at the postage cancellation stamp date. Gramps and Mom had pulled it off!!
Those of us who were in the know would just sit there in amazement of Canada Post and smile.
A few years later, fishing with Gramps, I asked him if he’d ever confessed about the Christmas letters.
He just folded his big farm hands across his belly, chuckled and said “You know your Grandmother, I’d be crazy to do that now, wouldn’t I.”
Both of them are gone now and I don’t know if he ever did let the truth out. I hope not. Having all those friends call for that month, renewed Grandma’s spirits. The story was told and retold for years.
And every Christmas as I mail my own cards, I think of Gramps and Grandma and the missing Christmas cards.
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