Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 23rd


Elliott was a member of this sales club. Notice above how the Zip Code was not yet used by the United States Postal Service. 😉

I think that Santa, himself, would agree with my young boy’s mathematical hypothesis in the following computation which went like this………join “The Junior Sales Club of America” in the summer of 1965 PLUS sell 60 boxes of Christmas cards PLUS endure a 90 degree Minnesota summer heat wave PLUS be grateful for generous family and neighbors EQUALS a brand new bicycle!!!

Elliott drooled and dreamed of having a full-size, three speed bike! That $80 bike, in 1965, would cost $700 here in the year 2021.

Dreams are quick to course through the mind of an imaginative and hopeful young boy when you’re 11 years of age. A major desire began to burn in my yearning heart when one day, on our farm, there in our rural mailbox, came the arrival of an incentive-based toy reward catalog from the “Junior Sales Club of America”. Within the covers of that dreaming catalog lay a vast plethora of toy ideas that could be mine. Next to each toy was its dollar amount value and the number of Christmas card boxes that would need to be sold to achieve and receive the toy(s) of my desires.

Accompanying the toy reward catalog was a personalized Christmas card display catalog that I would show to prospective clients in hopes of garnering enough sales to be able to win my prize of choice, which was a handsome “Schwinn”, three-speed, 26″ bicycle.

A sample of one design, among many, that Elliott sold that summer, that could be personalized with the customer’s family name on each card.

My old 20″ bike had only one speed…….ME….huffing and puffing as fast as my Norwegian legs could peddle. If I could just achieve my sales goal, I would have a taller and more modern bike with three gears to shift into for lightning speeds of fast biking adventures…….or so I imagined. 😉

The logistics of procuring that new bike would take some doing. I must’ve whined my poor mother’s ears off into allowing and joining me in my fortuitous hopes of selling enough boxes of cards to earn that bike. Next, I began making a list of all of our relatives and friends that I could approach to buy my cards and how many boxes each would buy. The next hurdle was the timeline of how fast could I sell my required 60 boxes and send in the order to the company in time to get the cards back to my customers before mailing them out for Christmas that year??

Being a soft hearted boy, I knew that not everyone would say “yes” to my sales proposal for Christmas cards. I tried to maintain my positivity in the same vein as the British Statesman/Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill who once said, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. So, I did my best to smile and say, “Thank you for your time” to all those ladies of the house who would turn me down with a “No Thank You”.

Elliott is “on board” his sales transportation for selling Christmas cards. Mr. Morton Holstad holds a tight rein on their pony, “Little Lady”.

Our farm was located a full three miles in the countryside from our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. Even the neighboring farms around us were between a quarter to a half mile away. If had tried to ride my “shanks horses” (an old euphemism for your two legs), it would’ve taken forever to walk long distances in order to sell those cards. Another travel alternative was my little old 20″ bike, but that would not have been much better with the ofttimes thick gravel on those country roads.

I then had an “Ah-haaa” moment!! I KNOW……..I’ll just ride my faithful Shetland pony to various farms or to Kiester while selling cards!! Our Shetland pony was the sweetest frame of equine elegance!!!! We even gave her the name of “Little Lady” because of her gentle spirit and willingness to please. Once she was fed, watered and saddled up, I could hang my satchel of card selling supplies from her saddle-horn, then swing myself into the saddle and away we went. With high hopes, my pony princess and I began our travels both near and far to local farms and even into our hometown city limits of Kiester.

Our farming community was nestled in south central Minnesota and just a mere mile, or so, from the Iowa border. A veritable checkerboard of gravel roads crisscrossed our agricultural countryside and “Little Lady”, with yours truly aboard, stopped at many a farm along those gravel roads.

Audio cassette tapes and cassette recorders had been invented just a couple years prior, in 1963, and, if I had been rich enough, at the time, I would have had one with me as I traveled. Why? You ask? Well, for those of us who lived in the Midwest, we associated Christmas and Christmas cards with frigid weather and snow, ya?

Yet, to the households I visited that summer, it seemed incongruous to the lady of each house I visited to have a youngster selling Christmas cards in the boiling 90 degree humidity of summer. After I had faithfully rattled off my sales pitch of how lovely my company’s cards were, and how they could be “personalized” with their family’s name and a short message……I’d almost always receive the same response, “Young man, it’s July and it’s 90 degrees out today!!! Why in the world are you selling Christmas cards in July”????

Elliott would have LOVED to have had a modern tape player to play back his response to potential customers for selling cards in the hot summertime of Minnesota. 😉

Like a “human tape recorder”, I would then have to repeat and repeat and repeat my reasoning to each and every household as to why I had to sell the cards in the summer in order to get the orders printed and back in time for mailing them out for Christmastime.

Eventually, through perseverance and the generous hearts of family and neighbors, I had finally achieved my sales goal and collected the dollars necessary to send in my order to the “Junior Sales Club Of America” office.

Elliott’s parents, Russell and Clarice Noorlun. Clarice was the banking intercessor for Elliott’s card sales.

The “Chief Financial Officer” of my Christmas card business was our beloved mother, Clarice. Out upon the kitchen table came all the cash, checks and coins I had collected from my various customers. Mom, in turn, using our Kiester First National Bank checkbook, made one single check to the greeting card company and away it went in the mail.

True to their word, eventually, in the chill of a Minnesota fall day, our local mailman delivered a giant box to our farm which was chock-full of 60 boxes of lovely and festive-looking Christmas cards for all our good customers. Each box of greeting cards were handsomely embossed with each family’s name and a personal greeting that they wanted to convey to their extended family and friends for the 1965 Christmas Season.

The Noorlun’s 1956 Chevrolet is ready to deliver all those Christmas cards that Elliott had sold earlier that summer in 1965.

On a special day, our strong father, Russell, hauled that massive box of greeting cards out to our good old ’56 Chevy and away we went to visit every farm and home where neighborly folks had bought cards from me.

All my customers were pleased with their orders and it was a zenith sort of a day for this young salesman to see.

I’ve heard that there’s an old saying in the Army………..“Hurry up and WAIT”!! That’s exactly what I had to do as I cherished and greatly anticipated the arrival of my handsome new bicycle. It was late winter or early spring of 1966 when the “Rewards Division” of “The Junior Sales Club of America” saw to it, one fine day, that there came a very large cardboard crate that contained the prize I had been working towards……..my new bike! Once assembled (thanks to my talented daddy) I rode that handsome set of wheels with great pride for it was the concrete evidence of a valuable life lesson of hard work (along with Mom’s banking prowess) for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 22nd


Emblazoned upon the happy halls of my teenage Christmas memories is one of my favorite Yuletide Carols entitled, “Carol Of The Bells”!! Since those days in the halls of education, the years have passed so quickly. Amazingly, it’s nearing the half-century mark since I was in High School, and, when I muse upon this Seasonal song, I am tenderly drawn to the honored memory of a hero from my teenage days.

The Honorable Mr. Orrell Peru.

Mr. Orrell Peru was one of those cherished mentors of my music education that impressed me with his very existence in living a life of high integrity as well as his altruistic love and passion for choral music. Mr. Peru’s intense fervor for music poured forth to thousands of students over the many decades that he faithfully taught as the Director of Choral Music at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

“Carol Of The Bells” was an impressive Ukrainian Christmas melody that was owned and loved, not only by my “Tiger” generation of choir-mates, but also by the innumerable former Concert Choir members from decades past. For you see, way back in his early days of choral training at our school district, Mr. Peru began a grand tradition of making sure this Christmas Carol signaled the beginning of every Christmas Concert performance over the years and even beyond our own High School years, as well.

Elliott is top row and far right in this photo of the Battle Ground High School Concert Choir during the 1971-1972 school year.

The weeks preceding the festive Christmas Concert were thick with anticipation as our highly respected Choir Master put us through our paces, both in voice and in movement. The “movement” had to do with learning to sing “Carol Of The Bells” a cappella (for my young readers, this means voice only) while holding a battery candle and keeping step as we were to march from the entrance foyer of the gymnasium, through the darkened audience aisles and up onto the choir risers; all while keeping proper cadence and meter timing of the song.

Mr. Peru flashed the tree lights ON and then OFF to help us all keep proper timing of the song as we marched from the back foyer to the front stage and our choir risers.

The holiday mood was festive on that wonderful night of the performance. Many members of the audience on that special night were former Concert Choir members of Mr. Peru and had come to witness the musical tradition that they, themselves, participated in years ago.

The audience’s seasonal visiting and greetings hushed as the “house lights” dimmed to darkness with only a large, white electric star above the stage and a glorious Christmas tree of lights, next to our choir risers, glowing in their spectra of colors.

Nervous, kinetic energy almost sizzled among our choir robes as my fellow choir members and myself awaited the pitch pipe and downbeat of Mr. Peru’s direction to begin. Each of our hand-held, battery-powered candles were aglow and cast a soft white light around us in that darkened foyer.

The other 1/3rd of Elliott’s Concert Choir members from the 1971-72 school year at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

With a check to his wristwatch, our honored educator saw that the concert performance time had arrived. Mr. Peru drew a round pitch-pipe from his pocket and placed it to his lips for the accurate first note on which we would build “The Carol Of The Bells”.

With rapt attention, we all responded obediently to the downbeat of his arm and young ladies began singing, “Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away”!!! and we began our forward march into the darkened auditorium.

Since our choir would be spread out across the large gymnasium during this song, Mr. Peru had connected the white star above the stage, and the Christmas tree next to the choir risers, with a long cord that ran clear back to the foyer where he stood. With each beat of the music, Mr. Peru used a snap-switch to turn the tree and star on and off, on and off. This way, our choir stayed united as one in our singing as we all could see the visual pulsations of the music’s timing.

As each successive choir member entered the audience aisles, our candles gently illuminated our teenage faces. With our choir now moving and filling both aisles, as we marched towards the stage, so also did the sound of our voices crescendo for the audience around us to enjoy.

Mr. Peru’s homemade metronome worked for we climbed to the stage and mounted the choir risers till our candle-lit visage all faced the audience and our entourage finished the carol strongly with the last…….”DING, DONG, DING………….DONG”!!

We could easily see that the crowd was thoroughly pleased by not only the Christmas song itself, but also with the re-ignited memories in the hearts of many former choir members that were there that night in attendance. Together, my generation, and former choir members of the past, sang this special song while being directed by the delightful soul that resided within our teacher, Mr. Orrell Peru. To this very day, when I hear “Carol Of The Bells”, there are warm, Christmas memories in the heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 21st


POEM – “To Imbrue The View” by N. Elliott Noorlun.

Christmas flew right by, For this little guy,

Santa’s bag just couldn’t quite hold,

A “View-Master” toy, For this farm boy,

That could bring great joys untold.

In the days after Christmas, Dad pointed our car,

To take us to Albert Lea,

To visit our cousins, And experience their toys,

Oh their “View-Master” filled me with glee!!

While our parents drank coffee, That smelled so fair,

With that beaned aroma, That filled the air,

I’d be cuddled near window, To get lots of light,

Then insert a pic reel, Filled with wonders of sight!

There was breathtaking scenery, And Disney, too,

As I clicked forward each reel, To bring them in view.

Their colors were vibrant, Each storyline great,

Such a childhood epiphany, I just couldn’t wait.

My cousins were patient, There in Albert Lea,

As they shared their “View-Master”, With little boy me.

Heck, even adults, Enjoyed seeing us thrive,

With “View-Master” journeys, Those pics came alive!!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 20th


Similar to a mother covering her children at bedtime, the Minnesota sky above us gently drew her blanket of darkness over our snow-laden farm land on that Christmas Eve.

Yet, before that darkness fully descended, golden rays of the setting sun pierced the dust-covered windows of our barn. Fine particles of straw dust rode upon those sunbeam rays of gold as their light illuminated a mother Holstein cow and her baby calf.

“Henrietta” and little “Horace” Holstein. 😉

One could surmise that that ray of light was almost like the Christmas Star above the Christchild’s holy manger in the city of Bethlehem, only in a bovine sort of way.

Across the yard from the barn, our farm home was bedecked with holiday festiveness. Mom had a fragrant pot of coffee brewing for Dad to warm up with when he finished chores on that special night.

Elliott’s father, Russell, making sure these piggies were fit, fat and fine for Christmas Eve.

Mom’s delicious Christmas cooking had filled the four walls of our humble home with the aromas of everything from her honey-baked ham to her family famous home-made bread.

For our family, it was a Christmas tradition to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve. Mom would read the Christmas story from the Bible in the New Testament Book of Luke in Chapter 2, verses 1-7. Then, we’d begin the joys of opening presents that beckoned to us from under our glorious Christmas tree.

All the animals on the Noorlun farm could trust that their loving master would care for their needs every day of the year and especially on Christmas Eve.

Before our indoor festivities could begin, our father, Russell, was giving some “presents” of his own to all the animals on our farm.

From the chickens, to the pigs and even our Shetland pony got extra food and fresh straw bedding to enjoy on that special Christmas Eve night.

By the time Dad bedded down our 15 Holstein cows with fresh straw from the haymow above us, the barn held a happy perfume all its own; a gift from their farmer/master who loved every creature that God had placed under his care there on our farm.

Elliott with his Grandfather, Ed, and his daddy, Russell.

Like his beloved Norwegian farmer father before him, our daddy respected and loved each animal that relied on him for shelter, food and loving care.

One even wonders what the animals may have said to each other, on that special night of nights. After our father snapped off the last light in the barn and headed for the house, an animal interaction may have occurred, one never knows. So, with a bit of imagination, our Holsteins may have begun to speak their farm language of “Holsteinian” to each other in the quietness. Daddy “Herkamer Holstein”, off in his special pen in the barn, was definitely enjoying his extra feed and bedding. With a happy spirit, I’ll venture to say he moooooed a masculine-sounding “MOOOOORRY CHRISTMAS”!!! across the barn to “Henrietta Holstein” and their new son, “Horace Holstein”.

Momma “Henrietta” and little “Horace” chatted in the starlight that came through the barn window that night.

With only winter’s starlight now gently emanating through the barn windows, I can almost hear little “Horace Holstein” talking to his mother…….“Mom, why does Mr. Noorlun bless us with extra of everything on this night”? “Henrietta Holstein” lovingly responded to her little one……“Well, son, our human caretakers are Christians and for them, this night is called Christmas Eve”. She continued, “Every year at this time, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the Son of God in Bethlehem of Judea in a land called Israel”. “Henrietta” concluded to her son…..“I like to think our farmer/master wants to celebrate the birth of his Savior with these “presents” to us, just like the Wise Men brought gifts to young Jesus to honor Him and His birth long ago”!!

Happy “Horace” Holstein.

With a tummy full of warm milk from his mommy, and a fresh bed of straw as a “gift” from our farmer father, “Horace” was getting sleepy as he lay near the cozy body warmth of his dear momma. Just before floating off to dreamland, “Horace” groggily said, “Well, Mom, if I were a little human boy, here at Christmastime, I’d sure be saying MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL”!!! “And I’d even say that I thank God for being a Norwegian Farmer’s Son”!!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 19th


Combine the jungle king, “Tarzan”, a snow blizzard and John Deere tractors and they seem to be an incongruous teaming that could hardly ever be associated with Christmas memories. Yet to me, they go hand in glove to induce me to smiles and traveling back into the sweetness of childhood there in my hometown of Kiester, Minnesota at Christmastime.

Our dear Mr. Arnold Bauman.

In my boyhood days on our farm, my weekly bank account grew by a mere twenty-five cents (thanks to my parent’s kind sharing). Yup, a slim one quarter of a dollar bill was all mine to enjoy. Burning in my pocket (so to speak), that miniscule sum was usually expended by yours truly each and every Saturday night when our family drove into Kiester for our weekly shopping needs and the popular “Lucky Bucks” drawing. Needless to say, I was not in the financial position of having a surplus of monetary means to be able to afford to pay for a movie at the KEE Theater on my limited income of just twenty-five pennies.

In this 1950’s Christmas scene, at the KEE Theater, the children’s FREE movie was “Hurricane Island” with the hilarious “Three Stooges” comedy team.

Like another Santa Claus, a much loved man of our community, by the name of Arnold Bauman (along with the Sime family), came to the financial rescue of myself and hundreds of other boys and girls each year with a special Christmas “gift”.

Mr. Bauman had collaborated with the “Sime Equipment Co.” (our local John Deere tractor merchant) to provide a Christmastime gift to the children of our town with a FREE movie and popcorn each holiday season. This festive occasion was made all the sweeter by the parting gift of a tasty treat for all the little ones after the cartoons, short subject films and movie were completed.

The impressive KEE Theater in Kiester, MInnesota.

The venue for this wondrous Christmas event was the one and only “KEE Theater” located at the north end of our small town’s Main Street. Having first opened in 1940, this magic arena for imagination and entertainment, over the decades, brought countless thousands the opportunity to step into its elegant chambers and be transported to whatever world of adventure one chose to enjoy.

This ticket booth was empty on the FREE movie day for boys and girls.

From the second you stepped into the cozy lobby, you were greeted with the fragrant aroma of scrumptious theater-style popcorn being brought to perfection as it called to your culinary senses and said, “BUY ME!! I’M TASTY”!!! …….but on this special day, the price was FREE! 😉 My happy, little boy eyes watched each popcorn kernel jumping for joy as it ricocheted from the hot popping kettle to the glass wall and back into the amber-glowing of heat lamps awaiting the attendant to scoop it up and into your very own popcorn bag. A kid ambrosia of delight, it was, as I carefully navigated the crowd of bumping bodies so as not to spill even one delicious puff of popcorn!!

These KEE Theater projectors stood ready to bring fun Christmas memories to life!!

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Bauman and the Sime family, this dollar-challenged little farm boy was now perusing the movie theater aisles in my winter rubber boots as I “kah-lumped” along while I sought the best seat to settle into and prepare for our kids Christmas film fest to begin.

As was the norm, for those Minnesota Christmastimes, there was usually a snowstorm blowing just outside of these cozy walls with frigid temperatures down in the 20’s or colder.

Even though Elliott’s daddy used Farmall tractors, he loved the “putt-putt-putt” sound of those old John Deere tractors during the commercials before the kid’s movie began.

The lights of the KEE Theater Auditorium gently began to fade into darkness. We kids hushed our noisy chatter as we noticed the tall, regal, red velvet curtains begin to make their swishing sound as they pleated themselves into the sides of the arched framing which now revealed the immense white movie screen.

With an anticipatory darkness surrounding us all, the KEE Theater’s massive film projectors, in the balcony Projection Room above us, sparked to life and flickering images became clear on the sky-high movie screen as this agrarian audience witnessed promotional “commercials” for the latest John Deere tractors that could be purchased at our local “Sime Equipment Company”.

The John Deere advertisements were now over and on came joy-filled glee in the form of cartoons for old and young kids alike to create happy endorphins from giggle muscles being well exercised. This dominantly young audience around me made the sounds of happy popcorn munching as the last cartoon ended and it was now time for the main feature film to begin………..ohhhh boyyyy!!!

It was freezing outside the movie theater, but cozy warm inside with these jungle movies. 😉

I, for one, was intrigued by the various choices of film subjects that were brought to us kids each year for this free movie day. The Tarzan movies were my favorites because here we were, all bundled up against the frozen temperatures that awaited us outside of the movie theater and yet, there, on the screen were story characters living in a hot, humid jungle setting while getting all sweaty in the sunshine of far away Africa. 😉

Kind Mr. Lawrence Haase, one of many volunteers, over the years, who portrayed “Santa”.

Having thoroughly enjoyed ever single minute of our FREE Christmas movie, it was now time to file out of the KEE Theater to face the cold snap of winter temperatures once again.

What happened next was the treasured time of a “dessert” after the “meal” of the movie in the form of a FREE little paper bag of Christmas ribbon candies, jelly-filled hard candies and salted peanuts still in their shells.

Ribbon candy at Christmas held a magic all its own.

These holiday delicacies were handed out by none other than “Santa”, himself.

Kind-hearted men of our town would volunteer, each year, to put on the Santa suit and be waiting outside the theater for us kids. True to form, there was this year’s “Santa” waiting for us and seated in his special chair. In front of him was a very large, red velvet bag full to overflowing with our candy and peanut bags that had been individually taped shut. “Santa” handed one bag to each little darling that passed him on their way to reunite with parents waiting outside the theater. On this particular Christmas movie occasion, the ill-fitting red suit easily revealed the features of a dear local farmer by the name of Lawrence Haase. Sweet Mr. Haase, that dear soul, was a thin-framed man, so he was “swimming” in the over-sized Santa suit. Besides, with his glasses on, and his “farmer tan” of a snow-white forehead and sunburned face, it was a cinch to recognize him from the traditional look of the “man from the North Pole”. With a child’s very grateful heart, I received “Santa’s” greeting of, “MERRY CHRISTMAS”!!! as he handed me my little bag of treats in the frosty air of this beloved hometown of a happy little Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 18th


POEM – “Lucky Bucks In The Christmas Snow” by N. Elliott Noorlun

For Lucky Bucks, In the Christmas snow,

Our dear hometown, Was the place to go.

For Saturday night fun, To fill your quota,

T’was found in yonder, Kiester, Minnesota!

The merchants in, Our humble village,

Had fun ideas, While winter’s tillage,

Saw farming land, ‘Neath blanket of snow,

So to town was the logical, Place to go.

The family could do, Some Christmas shoppings,

In hopes that they’d win, Some green dollar “toppings”.

On that evening round, The time of Nine,

Many jovial holiday, Lights would shine,

From lampposts on, Our festive Main Street,

Where friends and family, There did meet.

At 9pm sharp, the town fire siren wailed up to a scream and then back down to quiet. That was the signal for all shoppers to step inside the nearest store for the drawing.

The old fire siren, High on top of tower,

Its sounding told us all, “Now’s the drawing hour”.

T’was now time for crowds, To find a store,

And see who had won, Fifty dollars, or more!

Stepping inside, Any business close,

The crowd went opposite, Of verbose.

As each merchant announced, The lucky farmer,

Whose name had been picked, To be the charmer.

“Ohhhhh RATS”!!!! “I guess I should’ve been in Kiester last Saturday night!!! I heard my name was drawn, but I wasn’t there”!!! 😦

And if that weekly winner, Was that week not present,

He must’ve felt like some, Poor lowly peasant,

Cause fifty MORE “bucks”, Went into the pot,

And after some weeks, It grew to a LOT!!

Christmas Season on the Main Street of Elliott’s hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. Each business you see here had, collectively, already drawn one local person’s name to be shared with all who stepped inside their store at 9pm on each Saturday evening.

It all made the Yuletide Season, That much more exciting,

To see those winning smiles, Beneath Main Street’s Christmas lighting!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 17th


There he was, peering at me from his lair among the pine needle branches of our family’s Christmas tree. “Mr. Gator” was nestled into his place of annual honor, as if a unique ambassador of the season, there alongside all our other traditionally acceptable Christmas tree decorations. Where he came from, and why was he elevated from the swamp to our Christmas tree???………that I’ll never know. But, there, in all his red-n-yellow, articulated plastic splendor, rested “Mr. Gator” for yet another Yuletide Season within the evergreen heights of the Noorlun Christmas tree.

When it came to lighting our holiday tree, I can heartily say, to this very day, that I still favor and desire the consistent, peaceful glow and rich colors of our old-fashioned string of Christmas lights. Those conical, colorful orbs were festooned in spiraling aspirations upon our fragrant evergreen tree’s branches. To me, they were the foundation, upon the beginning bare branches, of what eventually became our towering Yuletide tower of treasures.

Every electronic, colored bauble was carefully brought forth from its cardboard “coach” that had seen them safely through another 11 months of storage since last Christmas. Now, with big sister Rosemary’s precision, each of these lovely lights were clipped onto the tree’s branches to achieve a proper spiral elegance of our, soon to be, evergreen elegance.

First created by German glass-blowers of the mid 1800’s, we tenderly brought out our tissue-wrapped, glass Christmas ornament boxes. A sweetness of seasonal royalty surrounded each handcrafted, hanging ornament. Our dear mother, Clarice, instilled a sense of awe and caution to us little ones as to the fragility of these glitter-encrusted glass marvels and taught us how to hang them for their best display upon our green mountain of merriment.

Russell & Clarice’s wedding day, June 21st 1941.

Our parents, having both grown up during America’s Great Depression of the 1930’s, had learned the value of every penny they earned. It is highly likely, that they may have garnered these Christmas decorations in their early years of marriage, starting in June of 1941, and had seen to it that these ornaments were still in use for we four children to enjoy in the late 1940’s, 50’s and early 1960’s. Even as children, we could sense Mom’s reverence of these decorations not only for their individual delicacy, but also for the nostalgic joy they represented in our parent’s history of Christmas times enjoyed since their early days of life together. Subsequent Yuletide Seasons were enjoyed by our folks even more when their young family came along consisting of brother, Lowell, and sister, Rosemary.

The last phase of this particular holiday decoration drama scene was the one that taxed the most patience from my little child mind. Out came the boxes of aluminum tinsel that had been saved and reused from who knows how many Christmas times in the past. Into our quivering hands of excitement was lain a “ponytail” of silver, flat strands of tinsel that were to be placed ONE AT A TIME upon each inch of each branch of our evergreen “work of art”. If done correctly, the end result was a regal mane of silver resembling a stream of icicles flowing off of one of our frozen rooflines outside. After about 10 minutes of this flamboyant frustration, I was inclined to start tossing the aluminum man-made icicles in clumps onto the branches just to get the job over with. If caught, I was often, and appropriately, chastised by Mom and other family members for allowing this horrific breach of holiday decorating etiquette. 😉

Even at Christmastime, America was, and still is, in love with plastic. Since the early 1900’s, plastic had morphed into every facet of American culture…….even Christmas decorations.

To help portray our festive Christmas spirits to those who drove past our farm, we brought out our red, plastic wreaths that had a single pseudo, cardboard “candle” incorporated into its base with a red lightbulb glowing for effect. We’d take a hammer and tap a small nail into the wooden frame of our east and south-facing Living Room windows and add a bit of color towards the outside winter world around us with these wreaths. During those holiday seasons, as Dad and I would be walking towards our farm home from the barn at night, it was warming to my little boy heart to see that glowing red Christmas bulb in the window illuminating the red plastic wreath around it.

Our old, plastic Saint Nick came out of his yearly hiding box to be with us, too, on those fun HO HO HO occasions. Although he could have been assigned as a tree topper ornament, I seem to recall that he was usually taken into the kitchen and shined forth, precariously, upon the window sill. Once plugged in, his roly-poly self set to glowing and his electric Santa smile shined out towards the farmyard to let all the Blue Jays and wild bunny rabbits know that Christmas was here.

Being of Norwegian heritage, our Christmas tree was known in the old world Norwegian language as a “Juletre” (pronounced: “yoool-eh-treh”).

Being a Christian family, our dear mother, especially, saw to it that the true meaning of Christmas was brought to the forefront in all of our young lives via Bible Christmas stories and the like. No matter what time of the calendar year our Lord Jesus Christ may have actually been born, we as His children chose December 25th, each year, to celebrate His being born into this world as our most precious Savior and King. And, thanks to our godly Sunday School teachers at Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church, we also received beautiful little Nativity dioramas that were gladly placed on our television set and even hung upon the Christmas tree to remind me of the most wonderful reason for the season for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 16th


POEM – “Christmas Glee, Before There Was Me” by N. Elliott Noorlun. Created December 7th, 2018.

Some early Christmas gatherings were in this quiet cottage of Elliott’s maternal grandparents home in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

In Christmas times, Before I was born,

Before my bottom, Had diaper worn,

It must’ve been special, The time for our clan,

To Grandma’s or Uncle’s, House they ran.

Big brother, Lowell, enjoys shadow-boxing with his newest Christmas present. Elliott’s mother, Clarice, is to the right.

In the days long before, Electronic device,

Instead were books, And other things nice.

Like boxing gloves, For my handsome big brother,

While shadow-boxing near, Christmas tree with our mother.

Left to right. Elliott’s Uncle Del Sletten, his mother, Clarice, brother, Lowell and sister, Rosemary enjoying new books she received as Christmas presents.

Or our father reading, The local news,

While our sister, Rosie, On the couch would snooze.

Or Yuletide times, At our uncle’s house,

With all our clan around, And my uncle’s spouse,

Elliott’s sister, Rosemary, and brother, Lowell, sing Christmas Carols with their Smith cousin’s while Aunt Ilena plays piano for them.

Playing piano, While little ones sang,

Those Christmas Carols, Oh my how they rang!

Elliott’s first Christmas in 1954. The following month, he’d turn 1 year old.

When ’54 Christmas, Came rolling around,

Cousin Marc and I, We lent our sound,

To the old-fashioned holidays, That had come before,

T’was now our turn, To enjoy many more!!! 😉

Our maternal grandparents, Clarence and Amanda Sletten, gather their living legacy around them and the Christmas tree at our Uncle Del Sletten’s home. Elliott is front and center, shielding his eyes from the super-strong light bar of Uncle Del’s 8mm movie camera.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 15th


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 in our brains as dross and loss. With that parameter in place, travel with me back to a snowy December and my 1966-67 school year at Kiester High School in our village of Kiester, Minnesota.

When Elliott stepped out of this grocery store he experienced the beauty of an epiphanous and serene Christmas moment.

I was privileged that year to be a member of our “Bulldog” Wrestling Team and we were about to be bound, that winter’s evening, aboard one of Leroy Dahl’s busses, for a wrestling meet in the distant town of Sherburn, Minnesota, which lay to the far west of our own farming community. This athletic event was transpiring in the holiday weeks leading up to Christmas, so, as winter weather normalcy had it, our town had been blessed with a wonderful, pristine blanket of snow covering our southern Minnesota world.

Our Wrestling Team Coach was the honorable Mr. Daryl Parker. I greatly admired him as teacher and as a fine masculine role model for we MatMen to follow. Coach had granted us permission, that evening, to buy and bring snacks and drinks onto the bus to appease the ever-gnawing hunger of ever-growing young bucks.

I quickly ran up the street, from our school campus, to the Kiester Food Market. Within its quaint and food-fragrant aisles, I had found a brand new type of snack crackers in a box called, “Chicken In A Biskit” and, to wash it all down, I bought a large glass bottle of soda-pop called, “Mountain Dew”.

As I emerged from the store, with my goodies in tow, I witnessed a combination of events that were both sublime and ethereal in nature. There was a calm-inducing quiet that night on the Main Street of our humble hometown.

Many of our city businesses had their Christmas decorations festooned from here to there, as well as gorgeous garlands that were strung from one side of Main Street to the other. All were glowing in a primary spectrum of colored Yuletide lighting. To make this scene even more magical, a beautiful silent snow had begun to float down from the black velvet of God’s wintery Heaven.

This farm boy’s moment of bliss was elevated to an even higher echelon as a quintessential type of dessert alighted upon my ears. From above the roofline of “Jim’s TV & Appliance Store” a large, public-address horn speaker had been wired to the stereo record player down inside the store and was playing beautiful Christmas music over our whole town.

Mr. Jim Engebretson.

Being a former “Bulldog” himself, from our High School’s class of 1958, Jim Engebretson had a loyalty and love for his dear hometown and, from the sweetness of his heart, wanted to make this Christmas Season as wonderful as possible with the addition of music to the atmosphere around us.

Even though I knew I had to be on my way back to the bus for the wrestling tournament, I stood there and savored every moment that I could as “Mr. Guitar”…..Chet Atkins, masterfully played the Christmas song, “Little Drummer Boy” over our entire town. Within the music-enhanced silence of that snow falling from an onyx sky, my rubber metal-buckled winter boots began crunching upon the snowy sidewalks, which only added to the joy-filled beauty of the musical moment.

The metal buckles of my boots, clinking below me, seemed to keep cadence with the music by their happy “chinka kling” as I strolled in the darkness. The deft talent of Chet Atkin’s playing brought a rich color to “The Little Drummer Boy” song on his electric guitar.

In great gratitude to Jim Engebretson’s provision of this epiphany moment, it was as if that famous guitarist was playing just for me. In my own private soliloquy, I pondered on the thought that I wasn’t just going to a wrestling match, I was tenderly held within a zenith moment of manifest Christmas joy that I have carried gladly, for over a half century, in the heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..December 14th


Christmas took on an almost mystical aura when cloaked in the black velvet of a snow-laden sky. From that ebony expanse above us effused a trillion, multi-laced flakes of snow that daintily floated down past the street lights that illuminated our family’s church-house of Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church in Kiester, Minnesota

The beautiful stained-glass window of Elliott’s church in Kiester, Minnesota.

On that Christmastime evening, the snow-chained tires of our family’s Chevrolet came to a crunching halt against the frozen curb that was drifted over by the latest snowfall.

As we popped open the four doors of that humble chariot, our family ventured into the below freezing temperatures regaled in all our Christmas finery. Tenderly watching our steps, upon the icy sidewalks below us, we gingerly walked along the northside of the church.

Upon rounding the bend of the sidewalk to the east side of our church entry, I was sweetly stunned by the vibrantly warm and rich coloring of the enormous stained glass window that dominated that portion of our worship center building. Since most of our family times at church were in the daylight, the nighttime view of this intricate glass craftsmanship was mesmerizing as its colors were brought to a vivid life of its own from the lighting inside our church. As a little boy, I was always held in awe of the intricate patterns of this leaded-glass “painting” of our Lord Jesus carrying a lamb.

Frosty breath on the air.

A mutual merry magnetism drew the punctual arrival of both townfolk and local farm families to the front of our church entry as numerous other vehicle headlights were shutting down as families were exiting their cars. The happy “chinka-klink” of winter boot-buckle sounds went right along with the frost-imbued air of our breath as we wished everyone a “MERRY CHRISTMAS”!!! before stepping inside our church’s narthex to remove our winter coats and boots.

The sweet organist of Elliott’s church was Mrs. Dixie Ballweber.

As our family entered and settled into a pew, we enjoyed the elegant Christmas hymns of “Silent Night” and other carols being played to perfection by our talented organist, Mrs. Dixie Ballweber. Dixie was one of many who lent their gifts to make this Christmas moment a memorable one for all.

Elliott (on left) helps light candles at his church in Kiester, Minnesota.

Robed candle lighters made their way down center aisle to the communion table while holding their long, brightly-lit candle lighting sticks, with the bent-end bell “snuffer”, to bring the glow of more Christmas cheer to this pleasant occasion and signal to the congregation that the Yuletide ceremonies were about to begin.

It was my turn, on that happy evening, to leave our parent’s side, in the pew, and make my way to the back of the church to put on my choir robe and step into and up upon the choir loft with the other children of our church to do our part in singing God’s praises for His greatest gift of all……….celebrating the birth of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, here on this holy day in December.

Even though our Children’s Choir attempts at singing were shaky and Munchkin-like, we strove to do the best our little voices could do on those happy Christmas performance nights at the church. Even in our immaturity, one could see our juvelile efforts were welcomed and visually enjoyed by many a smiling adult face as parents, grandparents and townfolk welcomed their progeny’s contribution to the evening here in the local assembling of His saints.

A happy, toothy grin of love was given to all by Mike Iverson and Harold Kinder, who were the ushers at Elliott’s church in Kiester, Minnesota.

A lasting imprint upon the mental tablet of my little boy happy memories was the ever-faithful and loving men who served as ushers there in our church. Mr. Mike Iverson and Harold Kinder were an amazing team with one goal in mind, to be ambassadors for Christ as they weekly stood by those grand double entry doors of our church every Sunday morning and especially for this special evening Christmas occasion!

As the last “Wise Man” stepped off the church stage and after the congregation sang a serene version of “Silent Night”, our pastor gave us all his blessings and with a final “Amen”, we Yuletide saints began filing out of the worship center and fellowshipping together as pew aisles merged to the center and towards the church’s entrance.

The church’s twin entry doors were now swung open wide to the very brisk winter’s night as our two beloved ushers, one on each side of the doorframe, stood next to big boxes of delicious, ruby-red “Snoboy” apples that were given out as tasty gifts to the entire congregation as they were heading for their homes.

Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church, Kiester, Minnesota.

Those tender-hearted church ushers, Harold and Mike, were like godly elves of Santa as they handed these apple gifts to old and young alike. Gifts, in a sense, in that each yummy apple was individually wrapped in a blue crepe paper. And this gift was extra-special in that it was not only sweet to eat, but had come all the way from Washington State to our little town for us to enjoy. As my little boy voice said, “Thank you so much”!!!, these kindly, Christian men responded with a hearty, “MERRRRRY CHRISTMAS”!!! as they saw their tasty apple disappear into the tummy of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.