'Tis The Yule season once again. No one is exactly sure where the word "Yule" originated, but some think that it came from Old Norse due to the following historical conversation between Odin and Thor: "You'll be sorry if you forget to buy something for your wife for Christmas!"
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kids these days sure are spoiled! Today's children send their lists to Santa with the attitude that they're ordering from a catalogue. And they're foot-stomping mad if Santa doesn't bring them every last item on their list - with batteries!
It was entirely different when I was a kid. We never wrote to Santa regarding our Christmas wishes. We knew better. We knew that Santa would bring us whatever he thought we needed for Christmas, which was usually heavy socks and thermal underwear.
You know how it's all but impossible to find presents for certain people? Folks such as aunts and uncles, who tend to get gifts from the handkerchief department. It seems that I've been one of those people since I was 6 years old.
We never complained, though. We were simply glad that Santa had shown up. After all, he took quite a risk in visiting our farm; with eight kids in the family, a supply of fresh venison would have been most welcome.
But the lack of terrific Christmas presents wasn't the only Yuletide affliction we had to endure. We also had to participate in the Christmas program at First Lutheran.
By "participate," I mean "go to the church one evening and sing along with other kids." I had two problems with that.
Fist was the fact that I had, and have, exactly zero musical ability. When I was a kid, my singing sounded like a cross between the yowl of a tomcat and the croak of a toad. It's only gotten worse since then.
I soon noticed that the choir sounded much better when I didn't sing. The choir director saw that I wasn't singing and gave me an upbraiding. I then began to lip-sync, a white lie told in church that nonetheless seemed to satisfy everyone.
The second problem I had with the church Christmas program is that it was held at night. In the dead of a South Dakota winter!
This was before global warming had taken hold, when stubborn fragments of a late Pleistocene glacier littered the countryside. Winters were a ton chillier back then.
And what did our parents do in the face of this knifelike cold that was hurled at us from the very depths of space? They hurried us through evening chores, then made us take our baths. We then quickly threw on our Sunday duds and hustled our little pink bodies, still damp and steaming, out into the arctic air.
We piled into our 1959 Ford station wagon and headed for church. The old Ford afforded precious little comfort; it was drafty and had a heater that produced about as much warmth as the bulb of a night light. The pants of my little polyester suit were like frosty stovepipes.
As bad as I had it, I'm sure my sisters had it worse. This was because back then Federal Law mandated that all girls wear skirts. Bare legs in the depths of an ice age! I could never figure that one out.