These are some of the Christmas memories that I want to share with
Whenever I think of Christmas, I think about milking cows. Any
activity on a dairy farm starts with milking cows; that includes
weddings, funerals and Christmas. The haymow of the barn was always
full of straw and hay bales which made excellent insulation for what
was basically the barnâ€™s attic. Combine this superior insulation with
36 warm cows and the barn was a pleasant place to be when it was
cold. The milk house was attached at one side and the calves lived in
a lean-too on the east. The cows would have received fresh bedding at
noon and a pile of leftover straw remained at one end of the
barn dotted with cats awaiting a twice-daily feeding of milk
replacer. Before my dad and older brothers came in for the Christmas
big meal, all the cattle were fed and ready for a pleasant nightâ€™s
sleep. It was easy to feel that all was well on Christmas when you
grew up with a barn like the one at our farm.
The Christmas Eve meal began well before December 24th. My mom made
lefse, kolache and cookies prior to the big day. She received help
from Grandma Z (Zavoral) sometimes and from my sister Debbie. Kolache
is a Czech pastry which is filled with raisins and prune. I love
Kolache and as a child would eat them until I had to almost live in
the bathroom. Mom made so much food for Christmas Eve that the table
looked like a diorama of a small city. I sat repulsed as my dad and
Grandpa Z ate lutefisk which had been drowned in lye and resurrected
in butter. There was not one space left over at our table; I donâ€™t
believe anyone ever ate anything-we just passed plates in one
continuous, lock-step serpentine pattern. It was easy to feel all was
well at Christmas when you celebrated at our house.
We had to wait to open presents until the dishes were washed. Then
dessert was served and coffee drank. It was torture. I had spent the
previous three weeks living under the Christmas tree. I would
estimate the size of each present then match it with items from the
catalog which I had petitioned for since the wish book arrived that
fall. I loved lying under the tree. It too was like a whole
wonderful, fantastic culture of Christmas celebration. There was a
faux, stained glass nativity scene which mom and I had painted
together. Multiple decorations made by my siblings and several sets
of lights. Some of the icicles were hung properly-one at time and
straight and then there were the icicles which had been applied by me.
Our dog, Benji and I spent many hours under that tree awaiting
Christmas. It was easy to feel all was under the Christmas tree.
Midnight Christmas Eve services were a little late in the evening for
my taste but still pretty neat. Pastor Ralph Hofrenning delivered the
message in a deep, booming voice that left little doubt as to the
reason for this gathering. I enjoyed the Christmas music because most
were old standards and I knew all the lyrics. The end of the service
started with a darkened church as one lit candle passed the flame to
the next. As the last candle received light, the service ended.
Sitting there, crammed shoulder to shoulder in a church pew, it was
easy to feel all was well.
I know things seem a little bleak this year. World economic problems
dominate the news and cloud what should be a joyous season.
Things will get better and remember that while the world may be
different, Christmas is still the same. During the holiday season,
itâ€™s much easier to feel-all is well.