It’s nice to think that a Christmas gift of fish sparked a tradition of giving that goes on through the year.
My dear and long-time friend, Louise, will be 89 years young next month. We got acquainted long ago when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Her daughter, Kris, was my girlfriend at the time.
A couple times a month I’d have dinner with Kris and her family at their home outside of town near Branson, Mo. Louise was a fabulous cook and always served up a fine feast.
Kitchen conversation revealed Louise and I had much in common. We both enjoyed Ozark history, writing and a rural way of life. Kris and I went our separate ways, but Louise and I have remained great friends all these years.
We write letters back and forth three or four times a year, and Louise always sends me a nice card every Christmas. It’s filled with all kinds of family news, written in her beautiful penmanship.
About three years ago when Louise’s Christmas card arrived in the mail, I thought heck, I’ll just give her a call. Talking on the phone was something we never did, preferring to write instead. At some point during our long chit-chat, I mentioned I was going fishing the next day.
“Oh how I miss having fresh fish,” Louise said over the phone. When I hung up I thought, maybe I can do something about that.
A buddy and I had a decent day on the lake, and I toted home a nice mess of fish. I cleaned our catch, bagged up the filets and popped them into the freezer. There was just enough fish in each plastic bag for Louise to cook one meal. That way she wouldn’t have to thaw the whole mess.
The next day I wrapped the frozen filets in a thick insulation of newspaper, boxed them up and shipped them overnight to Louise.
Her package of fish arrived right on schedule where she lives by herself outside of Ozark, Mo., south of Springfield, just Louise and a herd of cats.
That afternoon my phone rang. There was one happy woman on the line. Louise was so surprised, so thrilled, like she’d won a million bucks instead of getting a little old package of fish.
“I’m having some for lunch right now,” she piped. Louise was tickled to have some delicious fish. I think I was the happiest, delighted I could share and send the bounty to a friend who’s been dear to me most of my life. That was one merry Christmas for both of us
So now, about three times a year, I box up a mess of filets and overnight them to Louise. She’s always ecstatic to get a package of crappie, walleye or black bass. We talk on the phone more now because she always calls to thank me. We’ll always keep writing our letters.
Overnight shipping really works well. I seal the individual bags of frozen filets in a gallon zipper bag, then wrap that in newspaper and put it in a sturdy box. Louise says the fish is still frozen when it arrives. We call the Fed Ex van ” the fish truck,” bringing the goodies right to her door. It’s good to hear her voice when she calls.
Not only that, after not seeing each other for 40 years, Kris and I actually got back together for a short time two summers ago, but it wasn’t meant to be. Even so, she likes that I’m nice to her mom.
And it all stared with a Christmas gift of fish.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 12/19/2017