‘Tis the season!
Christmas Memories Division
Arizona Susan: “In the early 1950s, on each Christmas Eve, our family of six would pile into our station wagon, all of us dressed in our holiday-best clothes — which, of course, were hidden by our heavy winter coats, boots, etc. — and drive around Lake Phalen and go over to our church for the Christmas Eve services.
“I was always in awe at how beautiful the church looked, decorated for Christmas. We always sat in the same pew (right side, fourth row from the front), because, well, that’s just what Lutherans do! Loved singing all the Christmas hymns, all the candles flickering. They always gave each of the kids at the service this little box of hard candies, which I guess isn’t really a kid’s favorite candy, but, hey, candy is candy when you’re a kid!
“After church, we would get back into the very cold station wagon, which never really heated up until we got home, 15 minutes later. We went into the house and were greeted by a wonderful aroma of Christmas supper, keeping warm in the oven. The dining-room table was set, with a Christmas centerpiece, candles, Christmas napkins, the good china and flatware. Mom always made every holiday special.
“Then we began the wait for our grandma to arrive, from across town in West St. Paul. Couldn’t start the festivities until both grandmas were there. Our other grandma lived right by church, so she didn’t have far to travel. That anticipation of the celebration ahead was always exciting.
“Once the grandmas were there, we all enjoyed a wonderful meal together, with a huge plate of assorted homemade Christmas cookies for dessert.
“After kitchen cleanup, then it was finally time to open presents. Such wonderful memories, in a room full of love.
“We’d go to bed that night, and wake up early because we would want to see what Santa had left for us in our Christmas stockings. Our bedrooms were upstairs, but we always had to sit on the bottom steps and wait until Dad had his floodlights set up so he could take movies of us on Christmas morning.
“So many wonderful memories. My siblings and I were blessed to have a wonderful childhood, loving parents, a happy home.”
Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Christmas through too many years.
“Living next-door to my grandma, we always had Christmas Eve dinner, Swedish-style. As a child, I always got the job of stirring the creamed peas — rather boring, but ‘You can’t let the white sauce stick to the bottom . . . keep stirring!’ Peas on the potato sausage; /lutefisk boiled in a large kettle — ‘Don’t let it get too done; it will turn to slimy mush!’ Boiled potatoes, allspice on the lutefisk: all the smells of Christmas to me!
“A sure thing that took every bit of patience while we waited to open our presents: The kitchen with all its pots and sticky pans had to be cleaned up. Grandma leaned over her one-compartment sink, built very low, scrubbing away, while I wiped the rinsed utensils. Once, she said: ‘Oh, let’s let the kettles soak awhile!’ — a previously unheard remark. A Christmas Eve miracle had happened.
“Those years were memorable, as we were at war; my brother went off to the Merchant Marines at only 17, and my cousins and I were the only youngsters. One year, we’d begged for doctor kits, as shown in the Monkey Ward catalogue. Our pleading paid off, and we got our wish!
“Every year, my grandma bought us new flannel pjs.
“In the late ’40s, she got her first TV, and ever after that, the TV took a too-prominent place. It was a novelty at that time: small screen, black-and-white.
“One funny thing from those war years was the lack of ‘icicles’ made of foil. The wartime substitute was cellophane ones — no shine, and kind of blah. Our cat did not think they were so bad, as she’d yank them off and gobble them down. Long ones, too! They did have a slight salty taste — yummy! The ‘end result’ (pun intended) was seeing the cat after using her litter box with one end of the cellophane dangling from her rear! Poor kitty. I suppose she wondered what was so funny!
“It would be fun to suddenly go back and see our Christmas Eve. No pictures were taken; we’d have to use an old-style camera and a flash bulb. All these memories — kept only in our heads. Today my head is 85 years old! All those people have left us, and I am the
only immediate family member left. I’m glad my memories are still sharp!”
Not exactly what he had in mind (responsorial)
Stinky Bananalips of Empire, Minnesota: “Subject: Whipped Cream Cans.
“The story of Glenda accidentally sharing the whipped cream with Al B [BB, 12/3/2017] reminded me of a story about my grandma;
“Grandma was afraid of those aerosol whipped-cream cans and would not use them.
“Way back when my mom was a little girl, all of the aunts, uncles and cousins were together for a picnic. Someone brought one of these newfangled whipped-cream-in-a-can inventions, but no one could get it to work. My grandma said: ‘Let me try.’ Gave it a big shake, turned it toward the pie, tried to spray it and ended up spraying whipped cream on everyone around the table. She never used one again, she was so embarrassed. Because of that, we were always a Cool Whip-in-a-tub family, I did think it was a special treat to be at someone’s house who had the spray-can kind.
“Thanks for letting me share!”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Including: Our community of strangers
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: A rose by any other name? Not this time.
“I seldom listen to my car radio. I prefer CDs, many of which I’ve burned myself. When I park the car in my garage, I don’t turn the CD player off, so it begins playing the next time I start the car. So much for background.
“While reading the December 3 edition of Bulletin Board, I came across an entry submitted by Ramblin’ Rose. Not more than 30 minutes later, as I backed my car down the driveway (don’t get ahead of me), Nat King Cole’s version of ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ was coming through the speakers.
“A very pleasant coincidence.”
Life as we know it
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Doing something extra for Christmas.
“As I perused my emails this morning, there was a gift-item offer that caught my eye: a solid, raw brass Fisher Space Pen. Hmmm, every about-to-launch grandchild could use a space pen.
“I decided to add three to the cart — two for the teens, and one for me.
“While it’s agreed that to give is better than to receive, I always feel that doing both is especially blessed.”
Those darned capitalists
Or: What this country has been needing
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “For those of us who need to sit down fairly often, there is hope:
“It doesn’t seem to be easily bought right now, but it looks as if it will be available some day.
“Guys [Bulletin Board interjects: and, of course, gals — if any] dragged along on shopping trips: Rejoice!”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson: “From the New York Times: ‘His Tattoo Said “Do Not Resuscitate.” Doctors Wanted Another Opinion.’
“Directions, when done in tattoo,
“Raise questions about what to do.
“If upon my arm
“Is writ ‘Funny Farm,’
“Will they haul me off to Bellevue?”
Life in the Telemarketing Economy
Shell Lake Granny reports: “Subject: Scam phone calls.
“Here is a phone call I got last evening:
“Land line phone rings.
“Caller: ‘Is Ethel there?’
“Me: ‘Who are you?’
“Caller: ‘My name is Jack.’
“Me: ‘What do you want?’
“This is how I handle all phone calls if I don’t recognize the caller’s voice.”
It happens every fall (responsorial) (responsorial)
The November 29 Bulletin Board included this post:
TRANSPLANTED (“formerly The Man From Milaca, and Always Minnesotan in heart): “The post from the 27th, which mentioned Christmas-light gremlins as probable suspects in suddenly inoperative lights, is quite the hypothesis.
“Here, in Florida’s horse country, it must be different!
“I had a string that went out last year. I plugged them in this year, and like last year, they are only half working. But I have lots of other strings. Each one tested out fine. And I’ve set up the tree, even though it is not entirely decked out.
“But out in the shed, I saw some old Christmas lights. And I mean OLD! They go back to before the time my sister was married, all the way back to 1965. The string seems to be in pretty good shape, and the lights are unbroken. These lights haven’t been used since the 1973 energy crisis. They were taken down, and never used again.
“Curiosity got the better of me. Do they still work? Fifty-two years old, or more, and not even used in over 40 years. They been boxed up, had stuff dropped on them, been through extremes of temperature ( everywhere from minus-30 to over 100) and dropped numerous times. Are these lights destined for the landfill? Or is there a chance?
“Take a look at the pictures.
“Does THAT answer your question?
“The Christmas-light gremlins, I guess, haven’t found these lights.
“These bulbs get VERY HOT. Unfortunately, my string is short none bulbs. And I’m pretty sure they don’t make ’em anymore. Anyone got some they can ship?”
We presently heard from Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Here is a posting on Craigslist for several dozen lights:
“The Free section makes me laugh.”
Great minds . . .
Local Sports Pages Division
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Where have I seen . . .
“When I turned to the Sports section of the Saturday edition of the STrib, this was the main headline on the front page: ‘Adams perfect; Wolves not so much.’
“‘That looks familiar for some reason,’ I thought. I turned back to Page 3B of the Sports section in the Pioneer Press, and read this headline for the main story: ‘Adams perfect, Wolves not so much in loss.’
“I don’t recall ever having seen that type of coincidence before.”
Our birds, ourselves
Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin, reports: “I found a few bald eagles today in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.
“I hope your readers will enjoy the photos. They are a beautiful bird!”
Our theater of seasons
And: Our community of strangers (responsorial)
We previously ran a Thanksgiving Day email (with numerous pictures) from Mounds View Swede — excerpted here: “Among the many things for which I am thankful is having a sunny Thanksgiving day. My neighbors’ hydrangeas were standing tall and catching the light, so I went out back with my camera to take a look.
“I hadn’t had purple coneflowers before, so wanted to see what these seed-heady things looked like.
“Some types of birds know to come and feed on these seeds, and it looks like some have been taken. Perhaps our bird expert, Al, can clue me in on what birds like them.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: “Our bird expert, Al” is our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland, who has now been heard from:
“Dear Mounds View Swede,
“The seed heads are beautiful. Many different species of seed-eating birds would eat the seeds. If a bird eats sunflower seeds, it will likely eat coneflower seeds. The bird I see most often on coneflowers is the goldfinch. Our native sparrows find coneflower seeds delectable, too. Plantings like coneflowers are a great way to feed the birds. Thanks for doing that.”
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota,” replied with regard to another of Mounds View Swede‘s pictures, in the November 29 Bulletin Board:
“I believe the thorny pod from yesterday’s BB was from a wild cucumber vine. Watch out — they’re pretty invasive!”
The Permanent Family Record
Sally, the cleaning lady of Shoreview: “Not a Christmas story, but a cute picture of Bennett at nearly 2-1/2.
“Don’t you wish you still found such wonder at Christmastime?”
Band Name of the Day: Whipped Cream [& The Other Delights?]
Website of the Day: