The town’s 12 electors were stumbling through the north door of the community hall, stamping their feet and muttering about the cold, when Chairman Ork Dorken rapped his Coke bottle against the hollow door converted into a head table.
“Find a seat around the stove and we shall begin to plan the most fabulous Christmas this burg has ever seen,” Ork announced as he pulled his cap ear flaps tighter. Old Sievert snorted in the overstuffed chair he rescued from the Birdwin City landfill. The rest warmed the stove as best they could.
“We will hear a report from the Special Events Committee on citywide Christmas plans. OK, Holger. It’s your game.”
Holger Danske was startled, caught in the act of writing Plan A on a take-out burger bag.
“Well, our committee thought we could do what we did last year,” Holger offered.
“What did we do last year?” Madeleine Morgan asked.
“We did what we did the year before,” explained Holger.
“Nope, can’t do that this year,” Josh Dvorchak asserted with a tone of finality.
“The Northook Memorial Association was delirious mad when they saw that two trees were missing from their cemetery and threatened to sue us for all we got in the city treasury,” Josh reported. “In fact, three trees were missing but they didn’t know about the one behind the huge lilac bush.”
“No town Christmas tree this year so get on to Plan B,” ordered Ork.
“We thought we could hang those ‘Merry Christmas’ signs Dorsey Crank rescued from the Birdwin landfill, ” Holger proposed.
“But there are only five of them and we have seven street lights,” protested Little Jimmy, now majoring in urban planning, an online course from DeVos Institute.
“Besides the 20-foot ladder was destroyed when Old Sievert drove his 8N Ford tractor over it while plowing his garden,” Little Jimmy added.
“No ladder. Scratch Plan B and proceed to Plan C,” pushed Chairman Ork.
“We thought we could have an old-fashioned indoor Christmas party, kids singing songs, drawing names, exchanging gifts and getting somebody to play Santa Claus,” Holger submitted.
“First of all, this town got no kids to sing and second drawing names is messy,” objected Einar Stamstad.
“I move for that plan,” Maggie Erfald announced quickly. “Drawing names gets everybody into the season.”
“You know what happened three years ago when we drew names and somebody put Dawg’s name in. He got a present but he didn’t give one so somebody went without,” recalled Orville Jordan from behind his sheepskin.
“We don’t need to put Dawg’s name in,” countered Maggie. “Besides, he ain’t a human.”
“But he doesn’t think that,” rebutted Orville.
“Don’t be foolish,” Maggie retorted. “He doesn’t think at all.”
“Well, in that case, we should send him to Congress,” smarted Little Jimmy.
Everyone laughed. Dawg paid no attention.
“Maybe we should quit thinking about ourselves and do an act of loving kindness for somebody else this Thanksgiving-Christmas season of love, put hate on hold, forgive people,” suggested Gretchen Dorken.
“No forgiveness!” interrupted Holger. “Old Sievert shaved off two rows of my carrots with that tractor last summer. No sir, no forgiveness and I called the sheriff who took three weeks to get here by which time we had eaten all the evidence so the sheriff said he couldn’t do nothing without evidence.”
Chairman Dork, noticing that spoken words were just hanging in the frigid air, asserted his executive powers and declared: “The Special Events Committee shall implement Plan D as soon as they think of it because this meeting is herewith adjourned.”
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND.