December 9th………“BEING A VERY LITTLE FARM BOY, WITH A FUN IMAGINATION, WHAT WERE SOME CHRISTMAS DOINGS YOU ENJOYED THAT AN ADULT WOULDN’T CARE OR DARE TO DO”??
It was getting closer to Christmas on our family farm there near Kiester, Minnesota in 1961. Our herd of Holsteins had been milked for the evening and bedded down for the night on fresh straw. Our Norwegian patriarch, Russell, my handsome big brother, Lowell, and myself were standing near the “Dutch-style” barn door and ready to bring this farm-work day to a close. As Dad reached out to douse the last barn light switch, one cow “moooed” and a second cow sneezed. I couldn’t help but smile, in my little farm boy imagination, for it kinda sounded like they were saying, “MOOOrry Christmas”!!! to us as we stepped out into the snow-mantled night.
From the ebony sky above, a Christmas peacefulness could be felt in the luxury of that quiet moment. Sparkling snowflakes twinkled and winked at us in the yard light’s tungsten rays from the top of a tall pole by the barn. An amber glow, from the windows of our humble farm home, called the three of us farmers to begin the trek towards warmth, supper and a cozy evening together as family. The near calf-high snow, along the way, made for a quiet walk as the three of us men-folk “plowed” our rubber winter boots along through the powdery white below us. Once inside our porch/pantry, off came the winter boots and multiple layers of winter coats, sweaters and gloves before entering the “welcome in” feeling of Mom’s warm kitchen with its permeating and salivating fragrances of a delicious meal that awaited us all.
After giving Mom our “Takk for maten”!!!(Norwegian meaning, “thank you for the meal”), the six of us Noorluns would disperse into various evening activities of television, listening to radio, reading or doing our school homework. Our Living Room was the realm of our Christmas tree in its regal full glow of color and lights. It was only natural that I was drawn to its quiet wonder and nestled down, laying on my belly, as I got up and personal with the tree’s beauty.
Seeing myself as an elf, I decided to pass away the evening by laying down on my back, with my head under and near the periphery of the Christmas tree’s branches. Then, with my little boy body barely fitting under the bottom boughs, I used my feet to push my little boy being completely under the tree as my shoulder blades “walked” me along. The Juletre (Norwegian meaning, “Christmas Tree”) and I were now one as I stared up and became happily lost in peering through this evergreen world laced with tinsel, lights and ornaments galore! Each glorious item on the tree possessed a placid, mystical essence all its own for this little boy celebrating the yearly season of remembering Christ’s birth on earth.
For those of us that were blessed to have grown up on the farmlands of Minnesota, Christmas season joys were embellished each year by a pristine blanket of snow across our part of the world. Bundled against the chill of that snow, we climbed into our famly car and would drive across frozen roads to our maternal grandparent’s home in Albert Lea, Minnesota. The cottage of our Norwegian elders was tiny in construction, but within resided a giant warmth that exuded from our “parents who were grand” to us.
Our sweet Grandma Amanda’s kitchen exuded the aroma of wunnerful Norwegian foods that included “Kringla” (Norwegian meaning, “round or circle”) and “Lefse” (Norwegian meaning, “large, thin potato pancake) that I consumed in happy, copious amounts! 😉
After welcoming hugs to us all, our family would settle down with Grandpa and Grandma Sletten on the couch and chairs of their tiny Living Room to visit and watch the late afternoon snowfall through their multi-paned “picture window”.
Evening shadows soon faded into darkness as the pleasant drone of adult conversations emanated from our grandparent’s cozy Living Room. My curious, inquisitive ways called me away from adult chatting as I would quietly step away and into the darkened entry foyer of that happy grandparent abode.
Above me, sitting on a window sill, sat a little plastic church that was illuminated from within by a tiny lightbulb. Climbing to the top of a small step-ladder, I accessed the heights of that window sill. As small as those stained-glass windows were, I could imagine an even tinier congregation inside of that Christmas worship center singing the carols of our faith and praising God for the greatest Christmas gift of all………… His Son, Jesus Christ coming to earth so long ago. Christians from around the world, at this holy time of year, were celebrating the wondrous birth of God’s Son……….just like this little Norwegian Farmer’s Son.