October will soon be here. In Albuquerque that means the famous Hot Air Balloon Festival. Hundreds of colorful hot air balloons fill the sky at dawn, providing an amazing spectacle. This Sunday I’ll be in Albuquerque myself, and I invite you to join me at Bookworks at 3:00 PM. Bookworks is a popular local independent bookstore in the scenic north valley of Albuquerque at 4022 North Rio Grande Boulevard NW.
I will give a slide show and talk about my new book, Susan’s Christmas Shop. I will sign copies of all my books. I hope to see you there, as a friendly face in the audience. If you live too far away to be there, I’ll share with you, in this letter, a story I plan to tell Sunday, a story of how I got started with Christmas ornaments.
It was 1969. I was a young housewife with a toddler and a baby. We lived in low rent housing close to the University of New Mexico, where my husband was in graduate school. The apartments had a building where informal classes could be held. I heard that the YWCA was holding classes there, so I put my baby boy in a red wagon and held my toddler daughter’s hand as we walked to the center. A craft class was being offered, but the tuition was out of my reach. As I started to pull my red wagon back to my apartment, a woman from the YWCA said to me, “Wait. Would you be interested in this class?”
“Yes,” I said, “but I have no money.”
“If you have a few dollars to join the YWCA, I will pay your tuition,” she said.
I was amazed. “Why should you do this for me?” I asked.
“When I was young, someone helped me,” she said, “and I would like to pass that along.”
We had never met before that morning, and she had no way of knowing how this class would change my life. As soon as my hands touched the simple salt dough, I knew this was my medium. Within a month, I was selling my Christmas ornaments to a shop. Within a year I was accepted into a juried craft show. Soon I had eager collectors who bought everything I made.
I never saw the woman from the YWCA again, but because of her, I have an obligation to help younger artists. Susan’s Christmas Shop has given me a way to do this. This story and many, many more are in my new book, Susan’s Christmas Shop.
I sent my fond greetings to all of you, no matter where you are in this wide world. Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the last flowers of the summer season and the changing leaves of autumn.
Your friend in Santa Fe,