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Starting a new Christmas Tradition

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Lori Schloeder Gress

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas with your family and friends nearby, but a group of my Wadena High School classmates recently got together to remember some of our classmates and friends, both near and far, who have experienced death or setbacks in their lives during the past year.

The Wadena High School Class of 1977 was the largest class in the history of Wadena with the number of graduating students around 185. So one might think that many of us would go our separate ways and make more friends along the way — leaving Wadena in the dust. But that is not the case with many of our classmates. In fact, 69 classmates live within 60 miles of Wadena, 29 of which have a 56482 zip code. And there are many others with lake homes nearby as well. Maybe that is why we have always had a good turnout for our class reunions over the years — around 37 percent don't have to drive very far.

We don't usually need a reason to spend time together during the year, we travel together, we giggle and laugh together, we talk and sometimes even cry together — but this year we decided to bake together. It's not that we don't all bake in our own homes throughout the year and especially during the holidays, but we decided to bake at the lake. A holiday tradition a few of us decided to start... Bake at the Lake.

While it may seem like a strange time of the year to want to bake at the lake, it really isn't. Who wants to bake inside at the lake when it is over 90 degrees? Who wants to go outside at the lake when it is -20 degrees? See, it makes perfect sense for this group of friends to 'bake at the lake' during December.

And adding to that sense is that fact that our lives can become very busy with holiday preparations and such that we can lose the true meaning of Christmas. So, we put the brakes on for a weekend and decided it was a time to remember our friends that have experienced loss or difficulties in their lives. Many of us have lost friends and family members in the last year, many have had illnesses and others have needed friendship and support. We were going to send care packages.

It's certainly not that we are master bakers or something like that (well, maybe Di Di is), but it is something we can do to show our friends how much they mean to us and as an added bonus, we can have a relaxing weekend at the lake with friends that are close enough to make the trip back home.

So, we made our lists - checked them twice or thrice or whatever four times is — because the older we get, the more we forget. And our baking weekend together went something like this:

Twas a couple weeks before Christmas and all through the lake house,

Not a creature was stirring, thank goodness — not even a mouse!

Our soaking wet and freezing cold stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that a summer heat-wave soon would be there.

Our kids are all grown up now and snuggled in their own beds,

With dreams of last night's holiday parties still hurting their heads.

While we 'girls' in our PJs' giggled with delight

As we opened bottles of wine - both red and white.

When out on the deck there arose such a clatter,

We managed to crawl from our couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the window we flew like a hot flash,

Tore open the shutters and tried to de-ice the sash.

The moon put a glow on the new-fallen snow,

And the thermometer showed it was seven below.

When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a car dropping "Busch" after hitting a deer!

The little, but old, driver, still lively and slim,

We knew in a moment it must be St. Jim

He snickered and grinned as he came down the pass

And he whistled, and shouted and gave it more gas!

On Karen! On Lori! On Judy! On Di and Netter!

To the Perham Exit! To the Dovey Lake Villa,

Now dash away! Dash away! Get more vanilla!

As slippery ice on those back roads abound,

We strap on our seatbelts in case we fly off the ground.

So up to the lake house our cruisers they flew,

with a car full of sugar and St. Chocolate too!

And then, in a twinkling, we heard in the loft

The laughter and whispers that started out soft.

We got louder and louder with each passing hour,

Sooner or later the neighbors would holler!

We were dressed all in sweats, from our head to our toe,

Our clothes were all covered with flour and dough.

A bundle of ingredients we had flung in our sacks,

It looked like we would never coming back!

Our eyes how they twinkled! Our wrinkles how merry!

Soon, our cheeks were like roses and our noses a cherry!

And some of our hair should be white as the snow.

But only our hairdressers REALLY know!

We look in the mirror and we see one another!

OH MY GOSH, we look like our mothers!

We now have broad faces and we hate to admit it — little round bellies,

Yup...that shook when we laughed, like bowls full of jelly!

We are all chubby and plump, right jolly old elves,

And we laugh at each other and how we have aged, in spite of ourselves!

We can no longer see recipes without cheater glasses,

So the cookies are sure to contain too much mol "asses."

(Please note — we wanted to rhyme another word here and add the word "fat" as well!)

We spoke not a word (fat chance!), but went straight to our work,

And filled all the ovens, then turned with a jerk.

And at this age we already know,

The more you eat, the more it will show!

So, after greeting each other with friendly hellos and briefly sharing about our woes,

We all knew it was time for more wine, 'cause that's how it goes!

Then, we sprang to the cruisers as our baking was done!

And now it was time to deliver the treats — what fun!

And we all exclaimed 'ere we drove out of sight,

"Merry Christmas to all our Good Wadena friends, and to all a Good Night!"

And that is exactly how our weekend went — good old friends having a wonderful time together again - while doing just a little something to remind our classmates how much they have meant to us over the years. Have a merry, merry Christmas and a most joyous New Year 2014 from the Wadena High School class of 1977 "Girls!"