Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 22nd


#384.1=Slettens and children in Albert Lea, MN; circa 1943
Uncle “Del” Sletten, United States Army 1943

Quiet heroes live among us all.  They gently live out their daily lives in an elegant, soft-spoken manner that befits the tender soul they are, yet each of those quiet heroes has seen and endured much for the sake of survival of their own life in combat and for the betterment of this great nation we live in called America.  One of my many heroes, in this realm of honor, was my mother’s brother, Marcus Delmaine (“Del”) Sletten.  Of course, on both maternal and paternal sides of our family, I hold other uncles who also are treasured as heroes to this little boy’s memory, but for this story, we’re going to hold up Uncle Del.  Delmaine Sletten served gallantly, during World War II, with Company A of the 351st Infantry Regiment of the 88th Division of the United States Army.  With distinction, he and his fellow warriors fought tenaciously against the entrenched German invaders in the mountainous areas of Italy.  Uncle Del, and his fellow soldiers, fought so fiercely, that their German enemies labeled this American fighting unit as “The Blue Devils”…..and the name stuck, like the badge of honor it was.  Uncle Del’s Regiment fought so courageously, that they earned a coveted “Unit Citation” for bravery from our President, at that time, The Honorable Franklin Delano Roosevelt for “fearlessness, heroic determination and aggressive fighting spirit that brings honor to the armed forces of the United States”.   So, when it came to Christmas at Uncle Del’s, little did this tiny guy realize, back then, what our gracious host had gone through to keep America free and by that sacrifice, entitled us to celebrate Jesus’s birth in a world of peace and tranquility and with an aluminum tree, even 😉

#473=Delmaine&Ilena Sletten's wedding; April 12, 1953
Home from the War, Uncle Del marries Ilena.

Once home from the War, Uncle Del found love, marriage and the opportunity to build a very handsome home for his new family to be born into and grow up enjoying.  From stories my mother told us, her brother was a very talented man in many ways.  Even building a quaint cottage for his parents to comfortably spend the rest of their lives within, just down the road from him, in the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota.

#407=Russ N. at Del's home in Albert Lea, MN; Circa Dec. 1956
Our dad, Russ, could never pass up a tease or a good joke to bring laughter among us all.

At Christmas, or any other time of the year, for that matter……..whenever you put Norwegians and Germans together, add lots of coffee with sugar-laden desserts, it’s the recipe for fun and laughter.

Our father, Russell, had a vein in his body made just for teasing, tricking and causing laughter to whoever was nearest him.  Anything might pop out of his mouth (or other places) to create a moment of convivial joy and raucous laughter.  Such as, telling our prepubescent girl cousins to,  “Awww, eat that burnt toast, it’ll put hair on your chest!!” 🙂  To, passing gas at the dinner table and then swing around in his seat as he’s blaming it on the dog…..“Darn dogs, how’d they get in here??!!!”


NFS 12.22a
Magical, was Uncle Del’s aluminum Christmas tree and color light!

Without a doubt, one of the effervescent moments for me was to step into Uncle Del Sletten’s lovely home and behold his sparkling, modern, aluminum Christmas tree that was ablaze in an ever-changing rainbow show of color from a spotlight showing through a primary-colored plastic wheel that went round and round by the power of a little electric motor.  First, the tree would be aflame in RED, then fading to a GREEN, then fading to a BLUE and then a golden YELLOW in wonderful repetition that had me frozen in happy wonderment for what seemed hours as I saw the aluminum branches catch and reflect sparkling hues of spectacular Christmas prisms of joy.

NFS 12.22c
Elliott’s cousins had, what seemed to be, every toy ever made by man.  A virtual TOYLAND in their bedroom.

Like all happy families, we treasured our times of laughter, food, colorfully wrapped Christmas gifts, Bible story time and singing of Christmas carols.  What usually captured this boy’s attention, though, was the cornucopia of a veritable “toyland” that existed in my cousin’s bedroom.  It was a boy toy “heaven” to me.  I’d often just lose track of time itself when we’d come visit as I’d ride their spring-loaded plastic pony, or play with any myriad of toy choices within that boy’s lair.

#293.1=Gene Smith, Del Sletten&Russell N.; Christmas 1956_edited
Elliott’s father, Russell, (on the right) has pulled on his great coat for the trip back to our farm.  Dear Uncle Del is center and our kindly Uncle Gene Smith is to the left.

Eventually, though, when our daddy pulled on his great coat over his handsome Christmas outfit of shirt and tie, we kids knew it was time to put away our cousin’s toys and prepare for our trip across the snowy roads and back to our dear farm.  There’d be hearty handshakes among the men and our ladies would be giving season’s greeting kisses to each other on the cheeks as we climbed into our modest, motorized chariot for the trip home.  For, as a farmer, Christmas or no Christmas, those Holstein cows back at the farm needed to be milked and were getting hungry for their Christmas “dinner”, as well.  Such is just a taste of one of the Christmas joys, in the past, for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

The Red Bull in the Winter Line
Forever grateful to Uncle Del, and his fellow warriors, for purchasing our freedoms so we could enjoy our Christmas in peace in the next generation to come.




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