Contributed by Don Anderson. This article first appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Past Times.
In March 1931, my parents, younger sister and I were making our way across the northern states from southwestern Minnesota to Washington State in a Model-A Ford, towing a small four-wheeled trailer Dad had put together, loaded with a small supply of household goods. I was age three years and three months; my sister Betty Jane (BeeJay) was eighteen months younger. We were moving to Issaquah, a small town ten miles east of Seattle, where Dad was to take the pastorate of Community Church.
In the small parsonage next to the church in Issaquah, our first Christmas tree, placed near the front window in the living room, was illuminated by candles. For a special Christmas service, Dad had invited Dr. Jepson, a popular lay preacher in Seattle, to speak. Before the service, Dr. Jepson was our dinner guest and Mom, planning to seat me next to this large man, warned me, “If you spill on his suit, he’ll have a fit.” Apparently Mom’s waffles (her inexpensive dinner specialty), my table manners, and the honorarium (if there was one) pleased the guest just fine. A week or two later we received in the mail from him our first string of Christmas lights. BeeJay remembers him holding her in his lap and giving her a chocolate bar.
It was probably the next Christmas that my parents gave me the wherewithal to splurge on a gift for the family. On my own, having just turned five, I marched downtown to the five-and-dime store, put one thin dime on the counter and walked out with a small red bulb in a brown paper bag. I managed to drop it on the sidewalk on the way home. Turning over red shards to my parents was a disappointment to us all, but Mom and Dad were probably relieved that they did not have to explain to me that there was no practical way to use that odd-sized bulb in the house.
One Christmas, for the children’s Christmas program in church, it was BeeJay’s turn to walk to the center of the platform and recite a short poem for the entire congregation. Standing alone, and doing something she had never done before, she started well, but was seized with a panic-attack midway through her lines. She ran off the platform bawling like I had never heard before. Fortunately, she recovered her composure and developed skills to speak many, many times during 50 years as a pastor’s wife.