Dear Dorothy, I’ve been thinking about you a lot today, on what would have been your eighty- eighth birthday, if I’m counting right. For one, I’m getting ready to embark on an attempt at your Christmas bread recipe…You provided it for our traditional holiday breakfast for so many years, either in person or through the mail. For a while now we’ve resorted to a store bought Pannetone, which is not bad at all, but for some reason this year I want to make the real thing. It was fun digging out the recipe you’d written out on a piece of notebook paper, straight from memory. You were also a champion Christmas Cookie baker. I remember the year we received a package containing a whole stack of tins, each one filled with a different kind– ginger baked and chocolate swirled and sugar sprinkled. Even if you couldn’t be with us you sent your love from coast to coast for your grandchildren, who were absolutely entranced. I also vividly remember one Christmas when you and Donald were with us in Roanoke. You’d made the boys Davy Crockett outfits, complete with fringed jackets, pants and coon skin caps. They marched around the yard in those get ups, carrying the wooden muskets from Williamsburg and accompanied by our sheep dog Claudius. The pictures from that day are among our most treasured possessions! That was the year Christmas dinner was a Honeybaked ham, jello and macaroni and cheese made by Grandpa. You both were such good sports, you’d have thought it was the grandest holiday meal ever. Then there was the year in Georgia that I recall so well, when Donald was no longer with us, but many other family members were there to celebrate your eightieth birthday. You and Aunt Dorothy had everybody working in an assembly line making the Mannicoti for the dinner. You still loved to have fun on your birthday, no matter the age. To you, eighty was as exciting as six. Earlier that morning, you had come down the stairs like a little kid on Christmas morning and announced, “I made it!” That’s how I remember you, so lively and full of life and joy and generosity. So I just wanted to check in with you today and wish you a Happy Birthday. Oh, and wherever you are, I’m probably going to need some help with that Christmas bread. Yours is a hard act to follow! Love, your daughter-in-law, Mary.