Rural Living

Dear Readers

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Thank you for being just that: dear readers!

I just finished reading the most marvelous book, Reflections of a Purple Zebra.   

It is a collection of essays by someone a lot of you either know, or might remember, because she used to write for this magazine: Nancy Wright Beasley.

I had the happy pleasure of meeting Nancy at a writerís conference recently. One session was about writing oneís memoirs. Heaven knows, Iíve got memoirs galore. Hundreds of them are lurking somewhere in this computer, just waiting for publication into a book.

So, after listening to Nancy talk about writing a memoir, I went to the lobby to buy her book. I really had some questions she could answer, if I could only find her among the 400 or so people jamming the lobby. I touched the book and gazed upward, silently asking the angels to help me find Nancy Wright Beasley.

Within 15 seconds, there she was. An enchanting stranger across a crowded room. I waved at her and smiled big. Surprisingly, she waved back and smiled big. We rushed toward each other like long-lost soul sisters.

ďItís you!Ē each of us cried.

ďHuh?Ē I wondered.

Turns out, she reads my columns here, and recognized me. It astounds me to discover how many people read this magazine. I know the circulation hovers around 400,000; still, Iím constantly surprised.

Here is one of the many things reading Nancyís book taught me: Thank your readers. And that, folks, is my New Yearís Resolution.

Quite a few of you write dear little notes, or go to the trouble of sending ďstore boughtĒ cards. Each one of them makes my day, and I really, truly, do mean to write back to you. But I do not. I am the Queen of Procrastination. Just ask the Cooperative Living editor. Heíll tell you this column arrived in mid-December, although it was due November 15.

You are all so very sweet to seek me out, and I am so very appreciative. I really, truly meant to thank, for instance, the kind lady who sent her recipe for roast beef made with Coca-Cola. She even invited me to dinner at her home, provided I did not write about it. Thatís a promise I never make.

One nice lady, Pam from Dumfries, sent a Thanksgiving card. In it, she wrote, ďIf I ever run into you at the store or around town, I will give you a hug.Ē I sure hope so.

Iím amazed how many people recognize me when Iím out of town. I have learned to be on my very best behavior at all times, because, sure enough, a smiling reader will come up to me as Iím loading groceries in my car at Ukropís in Richmond, or Martinís in Staunton, or Fresh Fields in Roanoke. (If you want to find me, cruise the major supermarket parking lots.)

After reading about my broken dolly tea set, another couple dropped off a lovely hand-painted Italian cup and saucer at my favorite Covington restaurant. I really meant to thank them.

Just yesterday, I found a package in my mailbox. It came from this magazine, and looked as if it might contain business cards.

But when I opened it, I discovered a plastic tub of homemade fudge. Written across the top of the tub was this: ďMerry Christmas for Margo Oxendine. I love your articles! Elaine McBennett.Ē

Tears came to my eyes even as I tore into the yummy fudge. Somewhere out there is a dear, sweet lady who likes my columns enough to make a batch of fudge, pack it up nicely, write a little note, and ship it to the magazine, hoping that, somehow, it will end up in the mailbox at the end of my driveway.

Elaine McBennett did not include an address anywhere on her package. Thus, I donít have to feel guilty about yet another thank-you note Iíve not yet written. But, I feel guilty and grateful nonetheless. Iíve received many Christmas gifts in my day, but never one from such a thoughtful, caring stranger.

Thank you very much, Elaine McBennett, for infusing me with a feel-good Christmas Spirit that lasted throughout the holidays. And thanks again to Nancy Wright Beasley, for showing me how really good writers treat really good readers.

This year, I resolve to at least TRY to thank you darling note-writers, recipe senders and candy shippers. Well, at least Iíll think about it. And really, truly mean to get back to you.

 

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