December 2009 Archives

Unabashedly Christmas

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Casey Jones, early 1970's, Minnesotans of a "certain age" will remember him from local tv

One thing I didn't anticipate when we moved to Big Stone County was what an all out community celebration Christmas is. The grownups in the community join together to give the kids a truly delightful Christmas. This year our family has enjoyed:

• Another original holiday score composed by the school's music teacher Mrs. Ragan and performed by the elementary students. My review-- Excellent, witty, and moving.
• A modern and funny church Christmas program (thank you Janine, Maria, Lori, Kristi, Sandy, Melisa!!!) followed by a Luther League dinner, coffee, and a live Nativity that included goats and donkeys. We stood outside the church, just off Hwy 75, the King of Trails that runs from the Mexico border into Canada, in -7 degree weather. Teenage "angel" Kendra begging her petit grandmother to intervene and get her out of the cold.
• Santa Claus came to Clinton and the business community put on a bingo party for the kids with nice toys and prizes.
• Eidskog Lutheran had their annual hymn sing just down the road (the closest rural church to our farm).
• Last night with all the lights out except the Christmas tree the kids put on a Christmas program they had been practicing for days... Complete with drummer boys, babe in a manager, dancing princess at a ball (?)
• Top it off with a blizzard, wood smoke, snowshoes, and every abundances of the early 21st century

I make the kids sing this song (you simply must click here--) Just a Little Lefse in order to get a piece of lefse. I learned this song on my mother's knee--perhaps an homage to my biological culture. Please keep in mind that I'm a Scandinavian raised by Germans in the days when Lutheran Social Services still did cross cultural adoptions.

On Christmas Eve I was steaming king crab legs (bought at Bonnie's Grocery on Mainstreet Clinton) when Alma walked into the kitchen and said "are you cooking lutefisk?" I'm raising children who are more familiar with the smell of lutefisk than King Crab.

I have become an apologist for Christmas- an apologist in the meaning of a defender. Back around 1998 I mothballed all the Christmas cards that said "Merry Christmas." Christmas was out of style- replaced by the generic Happy Holidays. It was decidedly uncool to hale Christmas. Those cards are coming out this year- I may even get them addressed today!

This year I've had the Christmas that nostalgia is made of.

Errand Ways

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Happy Day Cafe.jpg
Minnesota Historical Society, 1949

I dashed off to town yesterday for errands and it turned into a delightful Main Street Clinton afternoon. Amanda, on short notice, got me in for a haircut. After that I hung out with my friends at the grocery store - shopping and talking. Then off to the Clinton State Bank where author Brent Olson was doing his first public signing of his new book "Papa: Figuring out What Matters." It was the bank's Christmas cookie open house - so the place was packed. I've lived her two years now and was amazed at how many people I knew gathered around the cookies and hot apple cider. We had all kinds of things to talk about- choir, alter guild (I'm on it now but have no idea what it is??), work, local foods, etc...

Then a few of us left the bank's cookies trays and headed over to The Cabin Cafe for a Big Stone Area Local Foods meeting- including my husband Mike. We have a community group working to establish a robust local foods system for our area. Lots of great people- local Farmers Union rep, artists, Apple Ranch owner, Economic Development staff, producers/farmers, etc... Our leader is a very cool Park Ranger (thank you Joanne!). At 3:45 Dale, the school bus driver, kindly dropped our kids off at the Cafe. I take advantage of opportunities to have the kids around me since I travel a great deal for work. Predictably, all hell broke loose as the little boys tore around the place -- jumping down stairs, rolling around the floor. They have no fear of us or self discipline. When the pop and french fries were served the restaurant became quiet again.

We are lucky to have the Cabin Cafe in Clinton. Doreen is a great and very health conscious cook. She cooks from scratch with fresh food, uses oat flour in her baked goods and healthy oils in her pastries and the fryer. For example, she cuts her own potatoes for french fries and cooks them in canola oil. We stayed for the dinner buffet (served from 5-7 pm) and enjoyed a really good salad bar with great greens, veggies, and fruits, salad bar, soup, homemade bread.

**If you are in the area- please stop by and enjoy a meal at The Cabin- right on Highway 75 (the King of Trails) in Clinton.** We need to support this local gem.

We came home to a completely messy house- 3 hopping, happy dogs. I call that a perfectly fine Friday.

My Lucky Star

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Geminids Meteor shower.jpg
The Geminid Meteor Shower- December 13th, 2009 from National Geographic

I woke up this morning and as usual stared up at the stars from my dining room picture window. From this window I can see half of the entire night sky and what seems like a pretty good portion of the world. I thought I had imagined the first couple of falling stars that streaked through the sky. Then they kept coming- dropping into the horizon, some big flashy stars falling right towards me. I quit counting at a dozen. I stood there awed and said to myself "well... thank you Milly."

When our middle daughter Milly was born it was by C-section. She was stubbornly sideways and wouldn't be turned around. I was really frightened being in the surgical ward, my arms strapped down, and then the spinal made me feel like I was going to quit breathing. The woman anesthesiologist looked down in my face and said comforting words. I looked up at her face and the powdered sugar around her mouth-- she said "had to grab a donut- low blood sugar."

Then I started to sing. Just the day before I'd heard "You are my Lucky Star" on MPR's Morning Show. So I started singing:

You are my lucky star
I'm lucky in your arms
You opened heaven's portal
Here on earth
For this poor mortal
You are my lucky star

I sang it over and over and over again. And then at last I had my beautiful baby girl. Amelia Rose-- our Milly Rose-- our Millsy. And she is my lucky star- though lost to my arms. As you may know we lost Our Mils unexpectedly before her first birthday. But her legacy in our family is a blessing. Mike set the tone the legacy that our much loved, much adored and adorable child will not be a tragedy, but a blessing. It's taken time for that to really sink into a grieving mother's heart.

And then this morning-- the anniversary of Milly's death-- the portals of heaven opened for me and the stars poured out. I smiled at those star with a quietly contented heart.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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