Santa and the Sewing Machine | December 22, 2021

I have kind of an unusual relationship with Santa.  Probably the weirdest part about it is the fact that we have any relationship, period – because, you know, I’m Jewish.  For Jewish kids, Santa is like your workplace hosting a doughnut party when you’re on vacation: it’s nice, but it doesn’t really affect you at all.  In the winter of 1990, however, I wanted a sewing machine; and I went to Santa to get it.

Nowadays you can watch children’s television programming until your eyeballs fall out of your head; but back in the olden times if you wanted to binge cartoons, you had to wait for Saturday morning.  My little sister and I would wake up just in time for Jem and the Holograms – a show that was “outrageous, contagious,” just like the sparkly-pink commercials that played throughout the episodes.  Barbies!  Cabbage Patch Kids!  Polly Pocket!  After each ad we’d shout, “We want a Care Bear!”  And our mother would say, “That’s nice” or “Hmm” or “Pee-yoo,” as she sniffed the air (because someone was “spoiled rotten”).  And then she’d go about her life.

In November of 1990 the most-often played commercial was for a toy sewing machine that used yarn to bind paper and felt.

“I need a toy sewing machine,” I said to my mother.

“There’s a real sewing machine upstairs,” my mom replied.  “We can sew something together.  That will be fun!”

“But the one I want sews felt,” I told her.

“So does the one upstairs,” she said.

“And paper,” I said.  “With YARN.”

My mother handed me a hole puncher.  “There’s some yarn in the cabinet.  You can sew it by hand.  Maybe you can make Grandma a book for Hanukkah!”

“UGH,” I said.  “I don’t want to do it by hand.  I want a sewing machine!”

“Pee-yoo,” my mother said, sniffing my shoulder.  “Someone is spoi-led.”

That year, Hanukkah came and went and there wasn’t a sewing machine to be seen (besides the one we already owned).  I did, however, get a book of kid’s sewing patterns and some pretty fabric so as to add insult to injury.  I ultimately made (spite) pillows out of it.

We were walking through the mall a couple of weeks later when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a team of elves, a lighted Christmas display – and in the center, Santa taking requests from all of the good boys and girls.

While my mother shopped for shoes for my sister, I considered the Santa situation.  We did have a chimney, I told myself.  We also had two big decorative trees in our living room; and while they weren’t pine, they were strung with white twinkle lights.  Plus, we celebrated Christmas every year with our family friends and decorated their pine tree…so…

I tapped my mom on the arm.

“Can I go talk to Santa?”

My mother considered it for a moment.  As a mother myself, I’m guessing she was thinking, “What kind of crackpot question is this?”

“Sure,” she said, after a moment.

Back then (and maybe now), it was free to meet the big guy.  Plus, you got a candy cane.  I was up at the front of the line before I had spit-whittled my candy cane to a point.

“What would you like for Christmas?”  Santa ho-ho-ho’d to me.

“I’d like a sewing machine,” I said.

“A sewing machine!”  Santa’s voice boomed throughout the space.  “Very good.”  Then he patted me on the back and I returned to the shoe store.  My mother and I never spoke of the interaction, although she did ask if I got my sister a candy cane (which I did not).

You will be unsurprised to hear that I didn’t get a sewing machine for Christmas.  I didn’t get anything for Christmas, as per usual – because, you know, I’m Jewish.

For the next fifteen years, I told that story over and over again to any willing ear.  I always ended with the punchline, “The moral of the story is, Santa is not for the Jews.”  I got a laugh at least once.

In January of 2005, I met the woman that would one day be my mother-in-law.  As there is no better way to endear yourself to your boyfriend’s family than by disparaging their major religious holiday, I shared my Santa story, ending with my hilarious punchline.  At the end, my mother-in-law said, “Hmm.”  She probably also laughed because she had a good sense of humor and, like I said, it was hilarious.

Just about a year later, I awoke on Christmas morning to find a big shiny box under my family-in-law’s Christmas tree with my name in it.  The tag read “From Santa.”  Inside was a sewing machine. 

The first thing I sewed on that machine was a set of potholders for my future mother-in-law.  I also used it to sew the binding on my wedding programs instead of stapling them, because it turns out that real sewing machines will sew paper, too.

The photo above is of my sewing machine, which is that blurry thing in the background because I asked Kyle to take the picture and I’m not sure he understood what we were doing.

It’s Christmastime, which means we have both an abundance of good cheer and good news.  Read on, and Merry Christmas!


North Dakota is just about able to declare “functional zero homelessness for veterans” across the state. (Grand Forks Herald)

Once again, the Minot and Minot Air Force Base communities have baked up thousands of cookies to be given to airmen for the holidays. (Minot Daily News)

Looking for a place to eat on Christmas?  Victory Lutheran Church in Jamestown is delivering 800+ meals to anyone who is hungry. (Jamestown Sun)

The Century High School boys hockey team donated 50 presents – with an additional $10 boost from Scheels for each shopper – to patients at Sanford Hospital. (KX Net)

Hunter Andes, an English teacher on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, has been awarded a silver medal from the Nonfiction Authors Association for his book, “The Elders: Stories from Fort Berthold.” (Minot Daily News)

Sixth graders at Wachter Middle School in Bismarck sewed up some Christmas ornaments to be donated to the Benedictine Living Community. (KX Net)

Four children, ages 5 to 7, have been honored by the Grand Forks Police Department (with Dairy Queen) for helping stop a potential kidnapping. (Grand Forks Herald)

Minot’s Tyler Schmaltz has put together a Google map of all of the best Christmas lights in town. (KX Net)

Fargo’s Tristian Ellenson returned from his deployment in Africa by surprising his wife. (Fargo Forum)

And Minot’s Adam Gottbreht surprised his mom on his return from his naval deployment. (KFYR TV)

The Salvation Army now has 740 ham dinners for families to celebrate Christmas Day thanks to two area businesses. (KVRR)

Four-hundred North Dakota second-graders got to have a little Christmas party – and receive a backpack with toys, essentials, and a grocery gift card – thanks to a program serving the state’s eight Title I schools. (KX Net)

For the 23rd year, an organization called Freedom Prison Ministries helped female inmates send a gift (and a gift card for dinner) to their children for Christmas. (KFYR TV)

I try not to put too many business donations in here because they would take over the news, but this one was so unique I had to share it.  Minot’s Dakota Chappy Boutique has put together gift packages for children to give to their mothers for Christmas. (KX Net)

Did you get your $3 North Dakota Nice sticker yet?  As a reminder, 100% of the proceeds go to St. Joe’s!  Click here to check it out.

Nice news of the week – July 2, 2020

Happy Almost-4th of July!  Did you know that Prairie Public has created a two-minute video on life in North Dakota in 1776?  You can check it out here.

And you can learn all about the nice things going on in the state voted “The #1 Place to Be in the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse” (cabletv.com) in this week’s news.  Read on, and have a safe and relaxing weekend!


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Two ninth-graders from White Shield School are spending their summer building an earth lodge. (KX Net)

Valley City residents created a beautiful garden in honor of a fellow community member. (Valley City Times-Record)

Elbowoods’ Melvin Klaudt is being inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. (Minot Daily News)

North Dakota is one of the U.S.’s top 10 job markets (specifically, number 10) weathering the pandemic, when looking at unemployment, change in employment, exposure to industry sectors, and number of job seekers. (Grand Forks Herald)

Despite the fact she’s not the totally ideal candidate – she has donated only to find out her iron levels were low – Minot’s Paula Bachmeier has been giving blood for 47 years. (Minot Daily News)

Before he passed away, Fred Hector Jr. created The Hector Foundation to help “ordinary people or the common man” in North Dakota. (Fargo Forum)

Forth Berthold’s Lauren Good Day has been featured in Vogue for her clothing line, titled “Matriarch” – which she says is “cultural appreciation, not appropriation” and open to all.  As a bonus, all of her models are from the MHA Nation. (Grand Forks Herald)

If you’re going to be near Devils Lake on July 3, check out Max’s Gordy “Crazy Fingers” Lindquist at Stump Lake Village! (Devils Lake Journal)

Dickinson’s Richard and Joan Hintz celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary with a vow renewal, courtesy of CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care. (Dickinson Press)

Fargo’s Joseph Lewis is organizing campfire chats to discuss racial equality. (KVRR)

Bottineau’s Miranda Schuler has put together a military display honoring PTSD Awareness Day. (KFYR TV)

“Fossil Country” is coming to soon to PBS. (Bowman Extra)

The Killdeer Rodeo will have a record-number of participants – over 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls – at this year’s event, starting today. (Dickinson Press)

Happy 100th birthday to Wyndmere’s Eleanor Bommersbach! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Nice news of the week – February 20, 2020

Best of luck to the Capital Ice Chips skating team who are on their way to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Providence, RI for the 10th year in a row!  You can learn all about the Ice Chips in this week’s news.

And, while I’m handing out exclamation points:

  • CONGRATULATIONS to Williston’s Kristi Anseth, who is one of only five women in the world, and the only one in North America, to receive a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science award.
  • GOOD LUCK to Minot’s Val Curtis who has earned a spot in the 2020 Olympic trials for women’s marathon and will be competing on February 29 in Atlanta!
  • THANK YOU to everyone who donated on Giving Hearts Day!  A total of 34,565 gave more than $19M this year, shattering last year’s record.
  • GOOD LUCK to the Watford City Robotics Team, who beat out 34 teams from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada to earn a place in the First World Championship Tournament in Detroit, Michigan!
  • CONGRATULATIONS to Micah Schlittenhardt and Alexis Thompson, both of Bismarck, who were named the top young volunteers in North Dakota by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards!

And speaking of this week’s news, it’s about Zero Waste Week, a Cupcake of the Month, a lifetime of love, and more. Read on.

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Kaidra Froelich is only 31 and has beaten brain cancer twice – and she credits much of her recovery to her Good Vibe Tribe. (KX Net) (Facebook)

Students at Bakken Elementary made and donated 20 blankets to Williston’s Family Crisis Center. (Williston Herald)

Last weekend alone, my family went through four bags of trash.  A group of Minoters hosted a “Zero Waste Week” to help raise both awareness and money for local non-profits as to reducing garbage. (KX Net)

There was an empty table at the Annual Mule Deer Foundation Banquet in honor of North Dakota’s last eight fallen soldiers. (KFYR TV)

The Capital Ice Chips is a team of 19 girls ages 13-18, and they have placed every year for the last six years at nationals. (Bismarck Tribune)

Jamestown kids raised $650 in pennies to help kick-off a non-profit to help people struggling with infertility. (Jamestown Sun)

Dads and daughters in Fargo are dancing it up to raise money for Mission Fargo’s Lost Boys Fund. (KVRR)

A Cupcake-of-the-Month deal turned into a $5,100 donation to pay off student lunch fees in Hillsboro. (Hillsboro Banner)

Six people in Fargo slept outside during a blizzard to raise awareness of homelessness. (KVRR)

After the Special Olympics chapter dissolved in Williston, Heidi and Rick Guetzkow started Williston Wonders – a social club for special needs kids and their families. (KFYR TV)

Fort Berthold Indian Reservation is now home to 30 bighorn sheep. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Mathieson Family has not one, not two, but four first responders keeping Minot safe.  And when KX Net offered to bring them pizza family to thank them for their service, they donated it to the Minot Fire Department. (KX Net)

Some of my coworkers recently volunteered for The Banquet in Bismarck, which gives out groceries to families twice a week.  How many groceries, you may ask?  They’ve donated 100,000 lbs since October. (KX Net)

Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people every year, and so Dr. Kevin Urdahl of Jamestown is working on a vaccine. (Jamestown Sun)

The Fargo YMCA is offering free kidney screenings to protect North Dakotans from undiagnosed kidney failure. (KVRR)

This is such a sweet love story that I had to make it the Story of the Week. (KX Net)