Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Read ♥ Read ♥ Read

Maybe I’m biased (who? Me?) but I’ve never understood people who didn’t love to read.

When you read you can go anywhere, see anything, be anyone, experience anything at all and every emotion under the sun!

In just the books I’ve written I’ve been accused of kidnapping (TO SCHOOL A COWBOY) a touch psychic (BLIND SIGHT) and a werewolf with a biting sense of humor (MAKE ME HOWL.) Yes, as Jazzy, the werewolf, I could stand on my own two–make that four–feet. 🙂

When I was growing up, I was Will Rogers with a dry sense of humor, Jane Adams who married a president, Jane Addams who started the first child care centers in America, Amelia Earhart, who had such a sense of adventure she built her own roller coaster as a kid and later learned to fly, and Molly Pitcher, whose husband passed out at his cannon during the Revolutionary War, so she took over for him.

In my years (AND YEARS) of reading I’ve played with Dick, Jane and Spot and lived in a harem. I’ve been a pirate, where I learned to sword fight, I’ve fallen in love over and over again with heroes of every ilk, and I’ve explored the west with Louis L’Amour.

I’ve even walked with Jesus.

I can’t think of many places I haven’t read. Under the covers when I was a kid and supposed to be sleeping, the car, a plane, on a train, college libraries, classes, even on the delivery table when my youngest son was born. (The nurse wrestled the book from my hands when the actual delivery happened.)

The greatest gift I ever received or gave someone else was the love of reading. One of my biggest joys in life was taking my younger siblings and later my children to get their own library cards so they could check out any book they wanted. That was a real gift! (And it didn’t cost a dime.)

Have I mentioned I like to read? (Yes, I get a little passionate about it.)

How about you? What do you like to read?



A Day That Will Live

cropped-merry-ornament.jpgA long, long time ago in a land far, far away (at least it seems that way now) I had a very good friend named Mary. (Yes, that’s her real name.)  Mary was dating a guy she really liked (a bunch!) and he had a friend she thought I’d like.

“Want me to fix you up?”

No. No! I don’t like blind dates. I had one once, and he turned out to be a kindergartener.

But she assured me that this guy not only wasn’t a kindergartener, he’d finished college and had a real job.

Ooookay. Let’s do it! (I tried not to act too thrilled, but she probably noticed how excited I was when I didn’t stop jumping up and down.)

Now I’d had a few less than stellar dates in my time. I had one where the guy took me to Denny’s, looked at the menu and said, “I had no idea it would be this expensive!” so we got up and left.

Another guy took me out and asked me to marry him on the first date. (Uh, no. But thanks.)

And yet another guy, who had a key chain with a girl’s name on it. When I asked who Tara was (not really her name) he said, “Have I been talking about her a lot? We just broke up . . . ”

See ya.

Anyway, I knew better than to place any big expectations on this date. But at least I figured I’d be safe, since my friend, Mary, and her guy, Sam, would be with us.

December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. It was cold and windy night (for real) and I was running late. (As usual.) My apartment had only one door and it was a sliding glass patio-type door. When G-Man and his buddy got there, I didn’t have my dress on yet, so I couldn’t even invite them in.

“Hurry up! It’s cold out here.” Sigh.

I hurried, so they didn’t turn into a pair of popsicles They were just a little blue from the cold when I let them in. As soon as the ice melted off their noses and ears, we bundled up and went to pick up Mary.

I remember that Christmas season as one of the best in my memory. Why? Probably because I didn’t have a lot of stress over gifts or decorating, and I wasn’t responsible for making anyone else’s Christmas “perfect.” (And I didn’t have a kid pointing to someone else’s gifts and saying, “I didn’t get as much as him.)

All I had was a really nice guy to talk to, spend time with, get to know, and fall in love with. Great way to spend Christmas, if you ask me. 🙂

We were married five months and twelve days later.

Pretty nice Christmas present Mary gave me, wasn’t it?


First Christmases

A Christmas tree in the United States.

I’m not talking about the FIRST first Christmas. I’m talking about my first Christmases.

When I was a kid, Santa came on Christmas morning, and didn’t wrap the presents. So when we got out of bed, our presents were out there!

In G-Man’s family, on the other hand, Santa came on Christmas Eve, and wrapped his presents.

This was when we lived in Bartlesville in a tiny little house. It’s a real Christmas tree–CEDAR.

 Here’s G-Man, wearing his gift from me. (He had a 750 Gold Wing and I wanted him to stay warm while he rode it.) He bought me that rocking chair behind him. It’s still in my living room. 🙂 I don’t know where his insulated coveralls are. LOL.

When we had kids, we had to compromise. Santa came on Christmas morning, but he wrapped his gifts.

More work for Mom. 😦

Our first Christmas with children was when we lived out at Silver Creek Ranch. I ran the dress shop (Four Seasons) and G-Man did what he does when he’s not in a pharmacy. Our tree was a REAL Christmas tree, which means it was a CEDAR. It was small enough to put on top of a card table in the kitchen, so #1 couldn’t reach it. And I bought all unbreakable ornaments in case he did reach it, nothing would break.

Somewhere I have a picture of him trying to reach the tree. 🙂 Of course.

This is Matt’s first Christmas, and Danny’s 4th. I’m not sure if Danny didn’t like to get his hair cut or if I didn’t like wrestling him into the barber chair, but he looks like a little hippie boy here.

A couple of years later, we had another first Christmas.

As you can see, Baby Bradley is disgusted, Middle boy Matt is kind of uncertain, but Big Boy Danny is a happy camper with his mouth full of candy. My kids always knew when they were around the “real” Santa because he knew them by name.

Amazing what a true saint can do! And this Santa was a true saint.

After all the boy’s first Christmases, we had the other kind of first Christmas. First Christmases with wives.

And they’ve come in order. Danny and his wife, China, first.

This year, we’ll have Matt and his wife, Nikki.

Next year, it’ll be Bradley and his wife, Nicole.

At least I have everyone’s stockings ready to fill.

Leave a comment

Best Gift Ever

When I think back over the years (and years AND YEARS) of Christmases that live in my memory, there’s one gift from my childhood that stands out with exclamation marks and sparkles.

I was probably ten years old at the time. I didn’t have anything big I really wanted for Christmas. Not that I had every toy, gadget and game in the world, but I had a bike and skates, and C-Town’s public library was full of great books to read. 

What could I ask for except another *stupid* doll. (With a house full of younger siblings, who needed a doll that couldn’t do anything but maybe cry crocodile tears and dampen its diaper?)

But I had a mother with a special insight into her kids–me at least. She knew I didn’t really enjoy dolls, although I never voiced it. I just didn’t play with them after I got them except to use them for target practice with my six shooters.

So she did me a great favor. She did something that unlocked a whole world for me, showed me there was more to life than what meets the naked eye, and drew a map to the impossible.

She gave me a microscope.  

It was a simple microscope with a built-in light and 3 strengths, the strongest being  maybe 1200. (Even children’s microscopes are much stronger than that now.) The gift came with several prepared slides and a few blank ones.

That evening Mom’s family came over for dinner and to share gifts, and while they were there, I got another memorable gift. I’m not talking about the hanky from Grandma or the little necklace from Aunt Betty (who really should have given me stretch pants. More on that one of these days.)

My cousin Buddy loved it when he heard I had the new ‘scope. (In high school, Buddy was an actor and wore taps on his shoes. If you read–or saw–The Outsiders by SE Hinton, that was Buddy’s generation set in the town where he lived.)

Buddy wanted me to know about just one of the things available to me with my new gift, so he poked his finger and bled on one of my blank slides so I could see the microscopic things in what I’d always thought was just a red liquid.   

But under the strong lens, I found there’s life in the blood!

Yeah, it’s still kind of gross, but that’s when that world of imagination opened up for me. If there was that kind of movement and goings on in one little drop of blood, what else was out there?

I tried looking at all kinds of things under that microscope. Dirty water. Plastic forks. Doll hair. Spit. Somethings were fascinating, others just a blob. Very slowly, though, I realized my best gift ever.

I don’t know if I was born with it or if my parents’ rubbed off on me. Maybe I’d been born with it and exercise developed it like a muscle. How I got it really doesn’t matter as long as I enjoy and employee it. 

My Imagination. My view into a world that isn’t there for anyone but me. A way of looking at things that doesn’t always make sense to anyone else.

And it’s wonderful.

How about giving us a gift today? You can share your best gift ever.

Ps: I don’t want to leave out the eternal gift that’s eternally better–Eternal Life.