I have a traditional column I submit each Christmas season, and I hope you don't mind me re-submitting this season. After all, people recite "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" almost every year! The following Last Windrow "classic" column was written by me in 1990 when my daughter was 5 years old. It was to be her first excursion to a Christmas tree farm that she could really remember. I wrote it as a Christmas card to her, and I'm sending it out to Anna and my readers during this week before Christmas Day. "The Ugliest Little Christmas Tree"
I'd bet it was a pretty quiet day last Monday at Todd's Tavern in downtown Amherst, S.D. Todd is a Vikings fan. He's with 'em thick and thin. It's been pretty thin lately in Viking land. "He missed the kick! Noooooo!" I could hear the moaning all the way over here in north central Minnesota.
The starting gun has blasted the beginning of the holiday shopping season. I didn't hear it because I was snoozing in my easy chair, digesting my Thanksgiving dinner when it happened. Somehow it was hard to move after downing more than my share of the fruits of the table. Whatever sleep-inducing enzyme is present in a turkey evidently works on me. So, hunting season is over, the produce of the garden is safely housed in our freezer or in glass jars that line our basement storage rooms. I refuse to rake the leaves in our front yard just as a matter of principle.
I'm not going to make any cracks about a certain community event anymore. I've learned my lesson the hard way. This is the season of community harvest dinners. All across America, small communities, churches and townships are hosting dinners that invite whatever rural residents we are left with to a full meal deal. We find the posters hanging outside small cafes and eateries in our towns inviting all to come and enjoy the fruits of their labors. We had such an event at our small, rural church in Lincoln Township, Iowa. The German Lutheran Church I grew up in hosted an annual fall dinner.
I don’t remember the person who gave the commencement address at Hinton High School in May of 1965. I sat there amongst my senior classmates in the high temperature gymnasium just thinking that this was probably the last time I would see some of these people who had been on the journey with me for the past 12 years or so. Our speaker had some degree from some college and seemed focused on telling us how fortunate we were and the challenges that we would face once we marched out of that auditorium.
I have gained a new appreciation for those among us who have somehow developed a handicap along life’s pathway. Not that I didn’t know that there are many challenges to be faced by those among us who have had some malady that takes a part of their physical ability away. I know that. But, most of my readers know that eight weeks ago I underwent a total right hip replacement. I’m not looking for sympathy here, but after eight weeks of coming out from under the knife, I’ve been thinking of the process and what it has meant to me.