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Holiday cards embodied Evergreen resident’s dream

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Library exhibit features decades of Ona Reid’s handmade Christmas greetings

By Stephanie DeCamp

Ona “Okie” Reid was many things, but the part of her that was an artist shone brightly at Christmastime.

Every year — for decades — Reid would painstakingly create her own Christmas cards for family and friends. She had a fine arts degree, but also raised a family of four, and worked as an occupational therapist during World War II and later as a veterinary assistant at the family clinic.

It's her creative side, however, that the Evergreen Library is honoring through the end of this month.

The exhibit, called “50 Years of Christmas Cards,” also features three oil paintings, including a self-portrait, and photos of her and her family over the years.

One of Reid's daughters, Jane Hays, said Reid had lived in Evergreen since the mid-1970s, and created the cards until she had a stroke in 1997. She died on Jan. 26, 2012, at age 89.

“It's a way to memorialize her,” Hays said. “It was fun for the family to get all those things out and enjoy them again.”

Granddaughter Lara Chavez said Reid was an inspiration to her.

“She would hand-draw or create a stamp or whatever medium she wanted to use to craft them. It's something that family and friends talked about every year, and they looked forward to seeing what she was going to create … and what the Christmas card would hold.”

“She was very friendly, open-minded and creative,” Hays agreed. “I know she always wanted to be an illustrator — that was something … she would like to have done, had she not chosen to be a parent instead. It always kind of lingered in there.

“After four kids, she didn't have a lot of time to spend at her easel. Her style was realistic, and each of those cards probed into and represented something that happened in the year.”

At Reid’s memorial service, Hays said, many people asked about the cards, and that's when the family began digitizing and preparing them for display.

“I'm proud of it,” Chavez said of the display. “She was just an outstanding person, and such a role model for my family — not just in her art, but who she was. It makes me proud to be able to share this part of her with people, and I hope others are able to get out and see it.

“I was lucky to have 28 years of my life with her.”