Lloyd Omdahl: Homeland Committee gets ready for Christmas
"Wow! It's almost as warm in here as outside," noted Holger Danske as he stumbled into the community hall for a special meeting of the Homeland Security meeting. Almost all of the city's 13 electors were already huddled around the pot-bellied stove on the north side of the cavernous dance floor.
"Thank you," replied Orville Jordan, the retired depot agent. "I came over at eight o'clock this morning to get this place warm enough to be tolerable."
Applause and cheers bounced off the cold walls as Orville stood up and took a bow.
"I called this meeting at the behest of the mayor," Chair Ork Dorken explained. "He said he didn't want to see Christmas decorations in February when Christmas is in December. He said he can't have his town celebrating President's Day with Christmas trees."
"Now who volunteered for Christmas?" Ork asked.
"I am co-chair with Hortense Torvald," announced Gerda Stamstead as she rose to her feet. "We appointed ourselves 'cause nothing would happen if we left it to the men."
"That sounds like sexual assault to me," Dorsey Crank whispered to Einar Torvald
"It goes on in homes all over the country," Einar agreed. "But nobody talks about it."
"Great!" exclaimed Ork, dismissing the side discussion. "Let's have a Christmas progress report."
"Well, you know the big tree for Washington went through North Dakota and the official state tree will be in the Capitol again so we decided we should have an official city tree this year and put it on the highest place in town for all to see," Gerda explained.
"And where is that?" inquired Old Sievert from his stuffed chair pulled over near the stove.
"It's the loading platform on Main Street next to where there used to be grain elevators, next to where there used to be a railroad," Hortense explained.
"I can remember that," Einar added, breaking into a broad grin. "A town used to be there and we're all that's left."
"We got a 12-foot tree from Byland Township cemetery that has been closed for at least 50 years," Gerda announced proudly. "It was planted for Lester Perdunk's grandfather and Lester gave it to us because nobody was tending to the cemetery and he didn't think his grandpa would miss it."
"Wonderful! Wonderful!" exclaimed Ork. "Do we have enough decorations for such a big tree?"
"As I remember, we bought most of them in 1959 after Oswald's General Merchandise burned and they had a big fire sale and then we rescued the rest in 1964 when Georgetown threw theirs in the county landfill," recollected Old Sievert. "They're pretty old."
"This is now 2017 and time to get with it," Hortense stated firmly. "Gerda and I decided to get LED lights."
"That would be brights on a Model A," Little Jimmy translated to Holger.
"The mayor said we could get as much as the town could afford and acting Treasurer Orville gave us enough for two strings but they covered only one-third of the tree," Gerda explained. "So we have one-third LED and two-thirds 1959."
"It would have wiped out our emergency snow removal fund for the rest of the winter if we bought five more strings of LED lights," reported Orville defensively.
"Maybe we can get two more strings next year and three in 2019," Madeleine Morgan speculated hopefully.
"Only one problem," added Gerda. ""We still need 200 feet of electrical cord to reach the nearest plug-in so if everybody would just pitch in with about 50 feet, we could light our city tree with the state tree in Bismarck."
More applause and cheering as the last spark in the fire winked out.
The Homeland Security Committee was just about ready for Christmas and it was only December.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND. His column is published each Monday in the Herald.