The View From Mrs. Sundberg's Window

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"Homemade Toffee Nearly Unhinged My Jaw"

December 29, 2003

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. We were in the car headed north from Owatonna where we had a day-long Christmas celebration at my mother's house. She'd made turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, taco salad, and pumpkin pie. There were wheat rolls, too, and homemade toffee which nearly unhinged my jaw. The meal took up a good part of the day, and by the time the kids had unwrapped their gifts, the sky was darkening and I looked at Mr. Sundberg and gave him the "Let's hit the road" look.

We'd been in the car for a while and Mr. Keillor was singing "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam" and I sang along. Mr. Sundberg, who was driving, who always drives (when I drive he clutches the door handle or the dash and it's just not worth it) gave me the "enough, already" look. So I stopped. The kids were quiet. A week of gift opening had done them in and the occasional "How much longer?" was a reference to miles and home, not days and gifts.

Things were going okay and then the Klezmatics began to sing "Happy Joyous Hanukkah." Let me tell you, if you think "Hail to the Chief" or "Ave Maria" stick in your head, you've got to hear this song. I was humming "Happy, Joyous Hanukkah" for the next hour, until Mr. Sundberg signaled right and pulled the car over right there on I-35E going north. "Look," he said. "I no longer leave my socks on the floor. I have not, in over year, taken a drink of milk from the carton. I don't play my harmonica when you're home. I have great respect for your individuality. But, please. You're not Jewish. You're Lutheran. And you're driving me NUTS with that song. You don't even know the words. You're just making them up as you go. Please. At least until we get home."

Alright, dear, I told him. My husband is generally very patient, but the holidays tend to create tension. You know how it is. Maybe I'll get him a gift certificate for an hour-long massage as a "Happy New Year" gift. The best part is, no sooner had he pulled out onto the Interstate when there they were again. The Klezmatics, playing an old drinking song. He gave me an exasperated look and I smiled and reached over, turning the volume up just a tinge. I sat back and tapped my foot and didn't make a sound for the rest of the drive home. Sometimes silence during the holiday season is a blessed thing.

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