This is the pre-Christmas column!


December 17, 2022

Pop on a fishing trip

Imagine being a young kid who occasionally catches the news on either TV or radio.

He or she hears of the violence and how screwed up this world and this country is.

I was that six-year-old kid in December 1950 anxiously plotting where Santa's sleigh was headed.

I figured he was flying over numerous combat zones.

I never swore then.

Okay, I never swore much.

My mother, who encouraged literacy, had insisted that I send a brief letter to Santa.

"Maybe he might think you're a good boy and not the bad boy I know."

Now, I knew about the Iron Curtain and the Korean War, and in my young mind, I could see Santa's sleigh getting blasted out of the sky on Christmas Eve.

And I wouldn't get a damn thing.

It seemed so unfair.

A kid tries to be good for a day or two and what does it get him?

Santa would be toast!

Here's what I think I printed 72 years ago after corrections from my mom's red pencil and having to print frequent drafts:

Dear Santa, I love you more than anybody. You were a cheapskate last Christmas. But that's all right. I forgive you.

Just don't get killed by those communists. Remember, I'm the best kid in my family. My brother Robby doesn't deserve any presents.

He said you're a dork. Whatever that is. Give him nothing. My sisters should get something. Jeffy

P.S. I hope you got a bulletproof sleigh and protection for Rudolph.

If I remember right all these years later, my dad had usually called the Russians "the dirty commie rat bastards," which I included in my initial draft and got my face slapped soundly by my mother.

She also made me take out the part about when Robby climbed up on a chair and peed on my pillow as a three-year-old on the night of his fifth birthday.

The miserable bastard.

He got his ass whipped soundly by my old man with his new Gene Autry belt. He never wore that belt and later gave it to me.

All of this brings back fond memories.

Today, which is Monday, December 12, 2022, is my dad's 122nd birthday and our daughter April's 47th birthday.

They were born in Roseau County 75 years apart. My dad, F.R. "Bob" Olsen, was born in Badger and always claimed that he was born on the second floor over a saloon.

I never doubted him.

He was not an adherent of the temperance movement and avoided those dames who had pushed for the 18th Amendment in 1919, prohibiting the free flow of alcohol in this fine country.

Until 1933 when Prohibition was repealed with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, some of his closest drinking buddies were Irish priests, who were never short of good bottled wine.

I miss the old man, who died in 1968 because of emphysema. He smoked too much, which goes hand-in-hand with drinking.

He was a swell guy.

And religious.

But he could be cantankerous, loud, and ornery and was also a great provider.

He would be very proud of his granddaughter, April Shannon Olsen, who was nicknamed Apey by her three older brothers.

Earlier on Monday, my brother Rob texted his birthday greeting to Dad

Then my younger sister Katie texted: Amazing when you think DAD was born 122 years ago today.

And my older sister Barb texted: Happy birthday to our great dad!!!!!

I'll drink a Coke to that!

My Xmas Letter

On Sunday, my wife winced, cackled, and possibly smiled after I completed my annual Xmas letter and presented her the evidence.

Oh, she wanted nothing to do with her signature on the document and therefore read it like a jewel thief discovering fake diamonds.

She looked at me like I was insane.

Always, it is important to get their attention.

For a few years in the early 1990s, I had a step-grandson, surely brighter than most preachers and teachers, whom I dubbed the Omen.

His first name was Christopher, I can't remember his last name, and he made many of my Christmas newsletters, none of which ever were sent to his mother, who had divorced our oldest son.

The Omen made great copy and he was for real. One time, I handed him a high school biology textbook when he was six or seven and told him to try reading it while I drove him home from school where he was a first or second grader.

He possibly read better than our principal, Terry Gotziaman, a bright chap who graduated from Grade 13 in the province of Ontario, Canada, where he had been a fine football and hockey player and also had won the heavyweight wrestling championship as a senior.

He was a fill-in.

And now, the Omen is all grown up, approaching his forties, no doubt a solid six-footer, and if we ever meet again, he will be Mister Chris!

And "Would you like a Bud Light, Mr. Chris?"

It would be fun to see him after more than 30 years.

Never knew what happened to him or where he ended up.

He was a character.

I love characters, especially offbeat ones. The Omen was one of the best.

Closing Time

There will be a few of us who can't think of anything to buy for Christmas gifts.

Like what to buy the old lady.

Some wives and/or girlfriends are hard to buy for. I am sympathetic.

I'm still married and I've learned that something is better than nothing.

They want it gift-wrapped, too.

Once, I bought Autumn a gold colored necklace. Which was a stretch but Jodi Jaenicke suggested it one Friday evening.

I drove to the jewelry store in Roseau and bought a necklace for 50 bucks.

When Autumn opened it, she tossed it aside like it was tinsel.

"I won't wear that," she said.

I took it back and apologized to the clerk. Went to the hardware store and bought a sturdy broom.

She didn't wear it, but she used it, and the broom was only a few bucks. I saved $47.

Remember, it's the thought that counts.


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