NANCY CARLSON DODD: A broken red sled made for a memorable Christmas

Playwrite Nancy Carlson's play "The Majic Pebble" is being produced by the Fort Wayne Youtheater.

Amazingly enough, my mother is 106 and has a memory that is sharp, creative and chock full of wonderful tales. At Christmastime, we especially cherish this tale from Mom, which prompted me to make dozens of small red sleds out of Popsicle sticks one year for everyone’s Christmas tree. These are mom’s words I penned from her sitting room at Golden Years Homestead when she was only 103.

“The open, rolling fields surrounding my home here at Golden Years take me back to the days of my youth on a farm outside Woodburn and to one certain Christmas. It was Christmas Eve, and a light blanket of snow sprinkled the farm fields outside. My father had driven into town in his brand-new REO to do his usual last-minute Christmas shopping. He had given up his horse and sulky and was quite proud of his first car.

“I was suffering from a fever and sore throat and was lying on a pallet with a Vicks-soaked rag around my neck, quite miserable. Dad came bursting through the door, his arms laden with gifts. There were dry goods and clothing materials for Mother, mittens for my sisters, a dozen oranges for everyone, and fresh oysters for Father’s special treat.

“Wonder of wonders, he went back to the car and brought in a beautiful red sled for me!! I had never seen an actual sled before, only pictures of them in a catalog, so you can imagine my unfathomable delight. Dad himself was very excited about his purchase. He seldom bought toys, so this was truly a luxury. When the snow was exceptionally deep, Dad would pull us into town on the bobsled. But, he explained, now my sister could pull me to school on this new red sled if the snow was moderate.

“Dad became more and more exuberant about this special gift, and to prove how truly great it was, there in the middle of the kitchen, he jumped on it. To his surprise and my dismay, the runners gave way and the sled broke beneath him. Needless to say, no one took a ride on the snow-brushed hills that evening.

“The red Christmas sled was later welded back together and saw many happy days on the hill by the bank barn, but I will never forget that Christmas Eve. As I share Christmases now with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, I often wonder if they all realize how blessed they are with all the gifts and toys beneath their Christmas trees. Then, I think of the little girl I was on a farm in Woodburn, so proud of and grateful for one broken red sled.”

As I once again hang on my tree the tiny red Popsicle stick sled I made in honor of that small young girl so long ago with a sore throat on Christmas Eve, I hug you in my thoughts, Mom. I’m glad you lived this long, and maybe I’ll take you for a sled ride this year! Let’s pray for snow and for one more red sled in your life.

Nancy Carlson Dodd is a resident of Fort Wayne. She is referencing and co-wrote the piece with her mother, Mary Kierspe.