It all started with my kids first ever episode of Wheel of Fortune. Wheel! of! Fortune!
It’s our family’s tradition. Every year I search the TV listings to find all of our favorite holiday shows. Frosty the Snowman kicked off this season and while we were waiting in front of the fire, with hot chocolate in hand for it to start (another part of our yearly tradition), we watched Wheel of Fortune.
Carson and Ella were enthralled!
“You mean, there’s a game on TV where you guess letters and WIN REAL MONEY?!?”
In between wowing them with my unbelievable puzzle solving skills (“How did you KNOW that, Mom!!!”), I told them about my summers as a kid where I’d go spend at week at my aunt and uncle’s house in Oklahoma City. Part of the tradition of my visits was to watch Wheel of Fortune every night after dinner and then take their dog, Vanna (yes, really), for a walk up the street to get frozen yogurt.
Carson has mentioned before that he thinks it would be awesome if we lived closer to family. Both kids would love to be able to spend a week during the summer at Uncle James and Aunt Melissa’s house, watching Wheel of Fortune and eating frozen yogurt. We’d love if someday their cousin, Riley, could come visit us for a week in the summer. For now, though, we live too far away and they’re still a bit too young for that to happen.
I worry a lot about my kids feeling like our extended family members are strangers and vice versa. It takes a lot of effort, but as often as we can, we drive the 500 miles to visit. We try to FaceTime every weekend. On holidays even when we can’t be there, we talk about Aunt Kate and Nanny and Papa and Nana and Paw Paw and James, Melissa, and Riley.
But it’s not the same as living close by.
I went up to the attic to search for my old Wheel of Fortune board game. I could picture it stowed away in one of many plastic totes, saved from elementary school days and later used during speech and language therapy sessions with my students. After searching a few totes, I finally found it, but underneath it, I found a true treasure.
I found this:
It’s a birthday card from my Papa, sent to me sometime around 1991 I’m guessing since the stamps were 29 cents. It’s a first generation (probably?) recordable Hallmark card. The battery is dead, but I remember that the message said something like, “Happy birthday Jenny! Sorry we won’t be there, but we’ll see you Easter.”
He passed away several years ago, so I haven’t heard his voice in years. Even though the card isn’t actually working, the memory of his voice came back to me. I can remember exactly the way his voice hesitated during the message and how as soon as I heard it, I knew it was something I’d save forever.
Now I just need to find a battery….
A few weeks ago, Hallmark sent me an “Until We Hug Again” recordable bunny. It’s been sitting on a shelf for the past few weeks while I tried to figure out exactly what I would do with it and who would be the lucky recipient, but after finding Papa’s card, I know exactly who’s getting her.
I’m going to have Ella and Carson record a message for their cousin, Riley. We’re going to tell her how much we love her and wish that we could see her everyday.
We want her to know us, even if we’re 500 miles away.
I’m really glad we stumbled upon Wheel of Fortune the other night.
A HUGE thank you to Hallmark for inviting me to be a part of their Life is a Special Occasion campaign this year. While I am compensated for my work, all stories are original and true.
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