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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

A plate of Christmas cheer

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can you hear that?

That's the sound of Christmas sneaking up on you. Christmas Eve is a week away from tonight. In just seven days, some of us will be opening presents.

Does that frighten you, or are you all done and ready to go?

So, what's the tradition at your home? Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Growing up, my family were Christmas Eve people. My father, who we called the Chief, would get off of work "early" -- 3 p.m. and come home for supper, which was one of the mostly quickly consumed meals of the year. That's saying something. You should have seen how we would go through sweet corn -- I'm amazed someone didn't lose a finger...

After wolfing down supper, we would gladly help with the dishes (something that wasn't high on the enthusiasm meter, but you didn't want to mess things up this close to zero hour) and then go for the ride to look at the lights.

Santa would invariably make his appearance moments before we arrived back home, and then the holocaust of wrapping paper would begin. It's not wise to be between a child in the throws of toy fever...

It would all be over in a short time, and then we settled in as a family. Usually there was Christmas music on the stereo and all sorts of cookies and candies to eat. My brothers would usually get at least one or two boxes of chocolate covered cherries as gifts from their paper route customers, and neighbors would drop off plates of cookies and candy.

My mother made Crispies, otherwise known as Elephant Ears or very flat cinnamon rolls. For days before Christmas, after supper my mother would bake Crispies. Dozens and dozens of Crispies. They would go on plates and be covered with aluminum foil or plastic cling wrap.

When the packages were ready, Mom would check her list and dispatch me or one of my brothers to make the delivery in person. This also helped with some of the pent up energy we had as Christmas loomed nearer and nearer.

It was a pleasant task, one I fondly recall. Who doesn't like a kid at the door with baked goods? More often than not, I carried back a plate from the neighbor. In those days, ethnic traditions were alive and well. Danish, German, English, Norwegian -- you name the country, I probably had a Christmas treat from there. This yuletide epicurean education was not without its perils. Being a picky eater to begin with, I seriously doubt I would have grown to be an adult in many of these cultures. If the treats were this disgusting (no offense, I'm REALLY picky), I can only imagine what the meals would be like.

And then there was the case of the lady that lived two doors down. I believe every neighborhood had at least one of these ladies. She was single (an 'old maid' was the phrase used then), a WWII veteran and drove a bullet nose 1950 Studebaker and used the handsignals when turning. Arm out the window pointed up at the elbow for a right hand turn, out straight for a left hand turn, pointed down at the elbow for a stop. The turn signals either were broken or she didn't want to pay to fix them.

This lady was quite intimidating to small children. She was the lady that monitored the behavior of the kids in the neighborhood, and was on the phone to mom before you could get home to explain why you were misbehaving. Not the most popular gal on the block.

We were among many families on the block that had a house cat that we let roam the neighborhood. Our neighbor was convinced that our cat was using the area under her back steps as a litter box. She often threatened to poison our cat.

So, when it was my turn to deliver the Crispies to this house, I did so reluctantly. When I was given a plate of treats that she had prepared for our family, I delivered them home, but warned everyone in the house where they had come from. I mean really, if the lady would poison a cat, was it THAT large of leap to wiping out our entire family?

Thankfully, she never did poison us (or our cat), but I never did eat her holiday treats.

Hey, the Christmas spirit can only go so far.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@lemarscomm.net, telephone 712-546-7031, x40 or toll free 1-800-728-0066 x40.

Thanks for reading, I'll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

By Tom Stangl
From the publisher's desk


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