December 1st…“WHAT UNLIKELY EVENT FOSTERED A LASTING CHRISTMAS MEMORY?”
Contemplatively speaking, it is an arresting thought to muse upon the mystique of our hearts in determining what we embed within our memories and what is set aside as dross. With that parameter in place, travel with me back to my 1966-67 school year at Kiester High School in our village of Kiester, Minnesota.
I was a member of our Bulldog Wrestling Squad that year and we were bound for a wrestling meet in the distant town of Sherburn, Minnesota which lay to the far west of our farming community. Our athletic event was transpiring in the weeks leading up to Christmas that year, so, as weather normalcy had it, we had been blessed with a wonderful pristine blanket of snow covering our southern Minnesota world. Coach Parker, whom I greatly admired, gave team members permission to bring snacks and drinks onto the bus that was transporting the team to the wrestling meet. Rejoicing in his graces, I aimed my voracious pre-teenage Norwegian appetite towards Kiester Food Market for my very own “snack attack”.
As I emerged from the store with a box of “Chicken In A Biskit” crackers and some “Mountain Dew”, I witnessed a combination of events that were almost ethereal in nature. It was a calm-inducing, quiet early evening on the Main Street of Kiester. Businesses and residents had their festive Christmas decor and colored lights strung from here to there in a rainbow display of visual delights. To make this scene even more magical, a silent snow had begun to float down to earth from the black velvet of God’s nighttime heaven. This moment of bliss was elevated to an even higher echelon as a quintessential audio dessert alighted upon my ears. There were holiday tunes that came from the sky above “Jim’s TV & Appliance” store.
Sweet business man (and former KHS Bulldog), Jim Engebretson set up, what I assume was, one of those bell shaped bullhorn speakers on his rooftop and he was playing splendid Christmas music for the entire town to enjoy!!!
My rubber, metal buckled, Winter boots crunching upon the snow of the sidewalks only added to the beauty of the snow floating down from the ebony sky above. The metal buckles on my boots seemed to keep cadence with the music by their happy “chinks” sound as I strolled along in the darkness with the delightful music of Mr. Chet Atkins as he’d play “Little Drummer Boy” on his great electric guitar. In gratitude to Jim Engebretson’s provision for this moment, it was as if that famous guitarist was playing just for me! In my own private soliloquy, I pondered that this wasn’t just a wrestling match I was going to, I had, instead, experienced a Christmas epiphany of manifest joy that I have carried for over a half century in the heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.