December 19, 2012


 Shirley said to write a Christmas story. And when Shirley says write, I write.
Did you hear about the guy whose car broke down and he had to stay at this farmer’s house? Well, the farmer says we have only two bedrooms and his daughter…
Well, I guess that isn’t really a Christmas story, but it’s all I could think of on short notice.
Christmas time is a time for friends and families. Kids and grandkids are coming home for Christmas. Neighbors are stopping by to drop off a gift or share a cup of coffee and wish each other well for the season. Santa is greasing up the sleigh and getting the hump out of the back on the old reindeer, and most likely tying up a leg on a new one.
Mrs. Santa is slapping those elves into shape and baking a few sugar cookies.
Kids are scouring the toy catalogs, and if they’re like my grandkids, they are circling nearly every toy on every page. They have 10,000 toys, but every ad that comes on TV, RJ says, “I want that!” And I’ve learned it is easiest to just say “Okay,” rather than argue.
And the weather can stand out at Christmas. We would always go up to the folks’ for Christmas Eve. Go to midnight Mass at six o’clock. We had an innovative parish that could adjust to the times. Then we’d eat roast duck. Why, I don’t know. But I suppose the duck-raisers have to make a living, too. After supper, the gifts would be exchanged, hugs given, jump in the car or  pickup and head home. Chores to do in the morning.
One year, we left Berthold about midnight and only made it a couple of miles. I mean there was a whiteout. People that are pretty sure they can go anywhere in a North Dakota blizzard (I’m talking about Will) have never seen a good old-fashioned, rip-roaring blizzard. We sat on the road for a couple of hours and then crept back into Berthold.
Then we would go to the One Bar (Shirley’s folks’) for Christmas dinner. After chores, of course.
I remember one Christmas when Shirley and I hadn’t been married too long. The relatives didn’t know me too well and still liked me. Colleen, Shirley’s little sister, thought I was cool. She was right.
Anyway, after dinner, we’re sitting around the living room and the office, and Colleen is in charge of handing out gifts. I mean there are 25 people and this is quite a project for a little girl.
She, knowing I was cool, was especially excited to see what Santa had gotten me. Well, Grandpa Jack had wrapped up a lump of coal for his favorite son-in-law. When Colleen watched me open it, she just threw a fit. She broke into tears and began screaming, “I hate Santa Claus! I hate Santa Claus!”
Now, things have changed and are still the same. There are still grandpas and grandmas, only they are us. Mrs. Santa still slaps the elves around, but she hits Santa once in awhile because he is deaf. Kids are still circling toys, and friends and relatives still share suppers and dinners and hugs and kisses and tears of joy.
I hope this Christmas finds you and yours healthy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Meyers!