Christmas Blog

It’s Margie Johnson, the owner of the Hot Dish Heaven Café, up north in the Red River Valley. I’ve decided to be high-tech and send an electronic Christmas letter this year, so here goes—

Winter is on its way, yah, ya betcha. And my new husband, John Deere—yah, that’s his real name, yet the local John Deere dealership won’t offer him a discount on nothin’, not on a combine or even a lawn tractor. Now I’m not one to speak poorly of folks—just ask Reverend Sorenson over at Grace Lutheran—but I don’t think they’re bein’ very nice. After all, John gives ’em free advertisin’ every time he introduces himself. Not that he has to introduce himself all that often. He’s lived here in Kennedy his whole life, and our population’s down to 193 now that Ole Svenguard passed away.

Ole died the other day while deer huntin’ out by Caribou there. From what I heard, he wounded a twelve-point buck, and when he tried to finish him off with a second shot, his gun jammed, so he charged him, thinkin’ he’d club him to death. But the deer bein’ wounded, was madder than all get out and, usin’ his antlers, knocked the gun out of Ole’s hands, then sent him to meet his maker by tossin’ him into a flooded culvert. And that’s why we now only have 193 residents, but, still, most of ’em are pretty well acquainted with John.

Anyhow, we’ve been winterin’ in Florida for a few years now, and Erin O’Reilly runs the café when I’m gone. As you might of guessed from her name, she’s not from around here, but she’s nice just the same. I taught her how to cook, and she’s not half bad at it, if I do say so myself. She makes a darn good Tuna Noodle Hot Dish, though she sprinkles crushed potato chips on top, which I think is kind of wasteful. If ya ask me, plain Tuna Noodle Hot Dish is good enough.

Of course, she can’t make lefse. And she won’t even come into the cafe when I’m servin’ lutefisk. She did once, years ago. Says her eyes watered for two days afterwards, and her clothes stunk so bad she had to take ’em off in the porch and toss ’em right into the burnin’ barrel. Now I’ll grant ya lutefisk has a strong aroma, but I think she’s exaggeratin’, which I suppose, isn’t all that surprisinn’ bein’ she’s Irish and all. Not that bein’ Irish is bad. It’s just different.

Anyways, John wants to head to Florida early this year because last year we didn’t go until after Christmas and ended up regrettin’ it. Not Christmas, of course. We didn’t regret that one iota. John’s sister and her family drove over from Duluth. And my cousin Janice joined us too.

Janice is Elma’s daughter, don’t ya know. Yah, the middle one, who never had a family of her own. Not that she didn’t want one, mind ya. Her husband, Herb, just up and died before she got pregnant. Yah, one minute he was eatin’ Cheetos and watchin’ the Vikings on Monday Night Football, and the next he was slumped over in his recliner, Cheetos spilled everywhere. Uff-da, it was terrible. Tried as she might, Janice couldn’t get those darn orange stains out of that upholstery. Oh, well, she should of Scotchguarded, but whatever.

At any rate, last year’s Christmas was pretty decent. I served walleye with my usual ham. Won the fish at the VFW meat raffle. It went well with my pickled beets and pickled herring. I also made snicker salad for the kids, though the adults had their fair share and don’t let ’em tell ya different.

We ate in the garage. No sense dirtyin’ the house. Figured if the garage was good enough for our grandson’s graduation reception, it was good enough for Christmas dinner. The propane heaters we bought at Tractor Supply down in Fargo there worked just fine. Oh, for sure, they were a bit noisy, but I just told folks to speak up. And when Janice complained about still bein’ cold, I said, “Jeez Louise, Janice, put another sweater on, why don’t ya?” See, John and I agreed to turn the heaters up only so high. After all, we aren’t made of money.

Anyways, we’re leavin’ for Florida tomorrow, so we won’t have to deal with the snow. John’s tired of shovelin’ but he still won’t buy a snowblower because of that bruhaha with the John Deere folks. I told him to buy one somewhere else then. That’d show ’em. But he said, “No, it’s the principle of the thing.”

Well, that principle landed him in the hospital for a few days last February. Uff-da, I thought his heart just up and went kaput from shovelin’, given all the snow we had. No, it wasn’t as much as in ’91. Still…. But it turns out it wasn’t a heart attack, just angina, so it could of been a whole lot worse. Even so, it scared the livin’ daylights out of me. And cost us an arm and a leg in doctor bills to boot.

Anyways, I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about the past year. So, Merry Christmas! And stop by if ya get a chance in the new year. I’ve always got bars in the freezer.

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