While many people are just now starting to think about Christmas, my wife has been "thinking Christmas" almost nonstop since the season ended last year. Throughout the year, she has purchased countless rolls of yarn and worked diligently to turn them into shawls, gloves, hats and a host of other items. 

When she completes an item, it is carefully packaged, priced and stored away. As the months flew by, the stack of plastic tubs containing her creations began to overtake the upstairs storage room. 

Each December we pack our vehicle full of her creations and travel to my hometown for the annual Santa Claus Day celebration and Christmas craft show. 

The Santa Claus Day Parade has been a community tradition for more than 80 years. The craft show began as a few insignificant booths in the small community center. It has grown over the years into a large and well-attended event. Vendors now pack the high school auditorium and spill out into the lobby. If the weather is favorable, some vendors will setup outside.

For me, the craft show and parade has become a homecoming and a reunion event. I know so many of the people who visit our booth. Some of them I recognize instantly and there are others I feel I should know, but can't identify. That sometimes feels a bit awkward, "I think I should probably know you, but..." 

That's to be expected. I moved away from the small community more than 40 years ago and we've all changed a little. 

My wife has so much fun at her booth. She loves to talk to people and show off her beautiful work. Along with selling the items she has made, she usually receives several special order requests. Upon our arrival back home, she will rush to complete those items and get them back to the customer in time for Christmas. 

She always comes home happy, wealthier, and ready to go Christmas shopping. She'll also buy more yarn to start making items for next year. 

Last year was one of her most profitable years. Our vehicle was packed and ready to go, so we took time to watch the parade before heading home. 

But the day took a very disturbing turn. After the parade, she discovered she was missing both keys to the locked cash box. 

We went back to the gym and searched every nook and cranny. We retraced our steps to and from the vehicle, thinking we might have lost them while loading everything back up. We searched the area where we had watched the parade. We even unloaded the vehicle and searched through every bag, every box and every inch of the interior. 

The keys were not to be found. 

One of my former classmates is now a city official. I contacted him and he unlocked the city building to see if they might have been turned in. 

No such luck. 

The money she had worked so hard to earn was locked up in a box that we could not open. Those funds were intended to be our Christmas shopping money. Without that cash, there would be no gifts under our tree. 

But Christmas is a time for miracles. 

A few days later, an envelope arrived. Someone in the community had found both keys and turned them in. I had totally given them up for lost and had been trying to find a way to break into that box. 

We both have a key now, and we have taken steps to make sure they won’t be lost again. 

Going to that event always makes for a very long and tiring day, but it is also a lot of fun. My wife finds it rewarding rewarding to see people wearing the items she has sold. 

Compared to Ark City’s Arkalalah parade, there is not much to see and it rolls by pretty fast. But the little parade has its own special small town charm, and it holds a lot of memories for me. I have participated in that parade in almost every way possible. Some year, I hope to be the Santa at the end of the parade and hand out the bags of candy and visit with the children. 

People probably think we are "Christmas crazy" and maybe we are. Call it insanity, or call it a labor of love. It's probably a little bit of both, but we can't help it. We're going to sell some crafts, see a parade, eat some holiday goodies and have a great time. 

I can’t help being excited, Christmas is coming!


CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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