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A Griswold Christmas

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S: A Griswold Christmas

BC: Thank you to my Heavenly Father who made it all possible in the first place; to my husband and his amazing gifts; to my 5 children who inspire me; to the Grice family and their friendship and to all the wonderful people in Griswold, Iowa... Thanks for the memories!

FC: A Griswold Christmas

1: A Griswold Christmas | by Rita Pratt To my loving Husband

2: Chapter One An Idea is Born "Joe! You better get out of bed! Joe! Shiona called again this morning to find out when you are going to hang the town's Christmas decorations on Main Street, she'd like it done today...and it's snowing!" Cathy hollered from the kitchen as she scrambled eggs for breakfast. A little slower than usual, Joe Rush rolled out of bed. On a normal day, he would have been up, breakfast eaten and on to his second call by this time of morning. But winter, even as mild as it was, got the best of health this year.He was moving at snail's pace because of the flu. As the only electrician in Griswold, He had been non-stop since harvest. It seemed like every farmer in the country had trouble with their corn crib dryers. Then there was the new wiring at the Library, a remodel at the Cass County Museum and now hanging the town's Christmas decorations down Main for the Mayor's wife. "Anyone with a ladder can hang those old lights," he thought to himself. But being 'on call' for the town was part of his job description, even though he was self employed. He loved this town, grew up here and will die here, just like his Dad and his Dad before him.

3: "A total of 108 Christmas tea rings at $13 each!" Todd said aloud as he did the figuring on the annual Christmas tea ring order at Our Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe. "The largest number yet!" Even though it wasn't quite Thanksgiving, the holiday spirit was in full swing. People have been in the mood for | celebrating since October, he mused. Harvest was good for the farmers this year, the weather exceptional. It showed in his customers and in their generous spending. Griswold was a small town in the heart of farm country, Iowa. With the population just over 1100, it was more like a big family then a rural community. Todd remembered back to the first day he walked into MJs Grocery Store, did business at Rolling Hills Bank and the Griswold Telephone Company five years ago. People were genuinely accepting. Even though we're a little unusual in our dress and have strong Biblical convictions, he thought, these folks are truly receptive. I've been in many rural towns,

4: grew up in one, but not like Griswold. The people are different; friendly and honest like back in my Grandfathers day. Todd had often heard his wife refer to Griswold as a 'best kept secret.' "And we aren't going to tell anyone about it either!" Rita would say. "Yes, we've only been here 5 years, but this is home." The Lord planted Todd and his family in Griswold, with no job and a purchase on a cheap foreclosed home. God opened the door to start up Our Daily Bread. | Our Daily Bread; a place to get good food, but also to find spiritual nourishment. Often the customers could find gospel tracts, books on Godly living and small pocket Bibles on their table that could be taken home, free of charge. There was also an unannounced invitation to sit and talk about life, receive prayer and comfort on how Jesus can guide a weary and lonely soul. Todd started his small restaurant with three goals in mind: to keep him from having to commute to the city for work which would have also kept him

5: . | away from his family, to teach his sons a trade and a good work ethic and most importantly, to be freed up to do ministry for God. Well, the restaurant became the ministry. After one year and a move to a larger building, Todd now has 10 employees from the community and a partner, Dave, who also shares Todd's love for God and living for Him. The building is tastefully set in the original Bank Building of 1880. Now, over 100 years later, it still captures the appeal and beauty of old brick buildings, hard wood floors and oak crown molding. It took a lot of work to get it back to its century old charm, but worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

6: "Experience Griswold! What's this all about?" bellowed Dave, as he walked in holding a flier in his gloveless hand. "Janet Reed gave this to me outside the Griswold American. She said she wants you to proof read it before the ad goes out this week." | "This, my friend, is what's going to keep this dying town thriving...through the holidays anyway!" With a far off look toward something on the faux tin ceiling tile, Todd explained his idea to Dave. While Dave nodded in agreement, Todd continued to give details of his idea. "We'll get George to hook a trailer to his Farmall, find some heavy blankets to keep folks warm and have him drive through town to look at Christmas lights. Have you been down 1st Street? It looks like those people must be in competition with one another. After dark, its the prettiest street in Griswold...and with all the snow comin, it'll be like a picture on a Currier and Ives cookie tin."

7: "I haven't been down 1st, but I saw Rescue Linda's place on 4th. Looks like she took her box of lights and just threw um at the house, hopin they'd stick! The children love it! Cindy sat at her breakfast nook, sipping hot coffee. With a pen in hand, she was making a list of details to discuss at the Library Council Meeting regarding "Experience Griswold." Todd talked to the Librarian just yesterday about having events throughout the month of December to bring people into Griswold and spend some of their money locally, as well as enjoy some of the great things the town has to offer. She knew the town was slowly fading. The Flower Basket just announced | they were closing their doors after the first of the year, and a week later, the Historic Trails Doll Shop stated the same. "We've got to do something!" she proclaimed aloud. "What's that, honey?" Chuck emerged from the mud room, zipping his coveralls as he bundled up to go outside to shovel the driveway. "We have a Council meeting tonight at the Library. I just want to express to them the importance of preserving this old town! Surely, even the Library can do its part!" "If there were anything, Cindy, I'm sure you're the one to make it happen." He believed his wife could do anything, and she thought the same of him.

8: "Hello, Marcia, this is Todd Pratt, down here at the Bakery." "Good, I'm glad you enjoyed it. We love having your quilter's club here for lunch. Yes, you gals sounded like you were having quite a time. You had the quilters in stitches, no pun intended. Eloyce was about to cut you off your next cup of coffee! Say, the reason I'm calling...I know you're directing the Christmas Cantata again this year, do you think you could gather up some carolers after the Cantata to stroll down Main Street? See, we are trying to create a Currier and Ives kind of Christmas in Griswold, to keep the shoppers in town, rather than going to the city. It'll be fun for the whole family. We want people to "Experience Griswold." | Eloyce's Peanut Brittle Boil to 240 degrees: 2 cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1 cup water Add 2 cups raw spanish peanuts 2 T butter 2 t soda 2 t vanilla 1/2 t salt Boil to 300 degrees

9: = | "Yes, this hat should fit him fine." Shiona said aloud. "Since we've run out of volunteers to participate in the Christmas Tour of Homes, something unusual, but equally popular will have to take its place as the annual fundraiser. A Dicken's Christmas may just be the answer!" Lila exclaimed hopefully. "I think every home in Griswold has been on the Christmas tour, Lila...some even twice! Truly, a Dicken's Christmas party will add a little class to this town." Shiona said in her Scottish brogue. Shiona has been in the US for over 40 years, but still loves her homeland, Scotland. If anything, Shiona was the one thing that brought a certain class to Griswold; Lila a sure second. | "We'll have a Dicken's Christmas Party!" Shiona emerged from the back of the Cass County Museum store room flaunting a red velvet cape and carrying a black top hat. "Can't you see Jerry in this!" holding up the hat to Lila, her faithful friend and co-curator of the museum. "Well, I would think the mayor would make a dashing old Fezziwig!"

10: Joe was hanging his first lighted wreath decoration at the west end of Main Street when he spied the familiar blue tricycle heading toward him. Slowly, he got off his ladder and confronted Helen Brown, the petite senior citizen. She's in better shape than I am, he thought. I'd prefer a motorcycle on a hot summer day. But today is cold and blustery. I better stop Helen before she gets too far. "Helen, its snowing outside. You should really get home where it's nice and warm," Joe scolded the 90 year old woman. "But Joe, I need to deliver these cookies to the Care Center. I do it every year. Those old people expect me. I can't let them down!" "Helen, I'll deliver the cookies for you...just go home and stay there!"

11: "Oh, Joe, you make a good elf," chuckled Helen as she carefully handed Joe the basket of cookies. "Thank you!" hollered Helen's tiny voice as she headed back to her large two story home. Turning toward his truck with the fragile package, Joe noticed a life size angel decoration in the yard of a house next door. Someone else had been digging out the holiday trimmings, he thought. With the new fallen snow cascading about her, the plastic angel truly looked virtuous. Joe got one of those queer chills down his spine as he smiled and thought of the Christmas season that lay ahead. | With a nod toward the angel, "Merry Christmas," spilled out of his mouth before he realized what he was saying or more surprisingly, whom he was saying it to. The Spirit of Christmas has come early this year, he thought, sheepishly kicking a drift of snow as he turned back toward his ladder. "Mer-ry Chris-mas! Mer-ry Chris-mas! Oh, come on Jack, say it!" "Bette, what are you doing?" "I'm teaching Jack to say Merry Christmas, Wayne. He can do it. Remember last year when I taught him to say Sen-or-Rita for

12: Cinco de Mayo?" Bette loved her cockatiel like it was a child. Jack had more toys than a toddler. Wayne Tye thought that bird was the perfect thing to keep his wife occupied while he was out on the 'farm' tinkering with whatever project he could find. He always wanted to live out in the country like when he was a boy, wide open spaces and fresh air. But Bette like it in town. So having the 'farm' was a good substitute for the real | thing. "Ya, Bette, he'll say it! You just keep at it!" encouraged Wayne. "Did you hear Marcia's message on the answering machine?" Bette turned to look at her husband. "She said she wants you to sing Christmas carols up and down Main Street for some event called 'Experience Griswold." "Well, that sounds like a hoot! Maybe I can get the quartet together. Yes, this may be a real hoot indeed!"

13: George was sitting at the official 'coffee fellas' table in the corner of Our Daily Bread along with Jerry Putnam, the mayor, and Dick Marshall. They could hear the joyful laughs from the 'coffee ladies' table and all their talk about the bad weather and treacherous road conditions that were sure to come. "Why don't those gals just stay home where they belong," Dick commented. "Because if they did, you wouldn't have anything to listen to!" remarked George. "Besides, we'll all be snowed in by morning, we need to get our coffee fix!" "So, George, I hear that you'll be driving the one horse open sleigh for Experience Griswold," Jerry stated. "Well, I guess you could say that, with no horse and no sleigh.

14: But my Farmall will keep us runnin up and down the streets of Griswold. I borrowed a hay rack from my brother, Dale. He is going to open up his Farmall shop so the kiddies can look at all his farm machinery,” replied George. “I think their Daddy's are going to like that just as much as the kids!” remarked Dick. “Hey, who's decorating the Christmas node on Main Street this year?!” Gary Bergstrom questioned the listener on the other end of the phone. “Me and Kathy? You gotta be kiddin! Well, sure we'll do it. Can't be too hard. Be down right festive!" | Griswold's beautifully maintained Main Street was landscaped with blooming dwarf crabapple trees in the spring and red roses and yellow lilies in the summer. On the center island of the street, a seasonally decorated two dimensional horse and sleigh stood year ‘round loaded with colorful mums in the fall and festively wrapped Christmas boxes for the holiday season. Gary didn't hang up the phone before calling, “Kath, we got a job ahead of us!” “Oh Gary! What have you gotten us into now?” She was always ready and willing to join her husband on any adventure he'd conjure up. It was just that his escapades were more frequent

15: now that Gary retired from teaching history at the Griswold High School. He was forever leading a bus tour to Washington DC, into the historic South or just about anywhere else a group of people would like to go. With his love of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, he often would travel to her Midwest homes to recapture the pioneer spirit that was part of his heritage. “I’ve got it all figured out, Kath. I’ve always thought that horse and sleigh should be pulling a fragrant pine freshly cut from the rugged plains...destined to a home where a dear family waited expectantly...Imagine, the joy they would experience | when their Pa brought home their Christmas evergreen!" Gary was lost with his imaginary pioneer family when Kathy gave him a nudge and laughed. She recognized that far-away look her husband's eyes. “It’ll be just like in Laura Ingall Wilder’s, 'A Long Winter', Kath. We can bundle up and head out into the snowstorm! But we’ll be looking for the perfect Christmas tree to put in the one horse open sleigh on Main Street!” Gary smiled his irresistible grin that Kathy Bergstrom knew too well. “Let’s make pancakes!” “Oh, Gary! You better not plan on eating as many pancakes as Almonzo Wilder. You’ll get fat!”

16: Chapter 2 A Stranger in Town It was dark at 5am when Todd unlocked the back door to Our Daily Bread. He turned on the overhead light before stomping the snow off his feet and hanging the one restaurant key on its designated hook. The partners learned the habit a long time time ago to safely place the key to the old building on that hook. They experienced too may early mornings stranded outside without the key, knowing the other one had it. They had always intended to change the locks with a double entry system, but didn't really see the point. If anyone wanted in, it wouldn't be hard. The restaurant didn't have much to steal but what was in the cooler and if someone needed food, the partners were more than willing to let them have it. Before answering the blinking light beckoning on the answering machine, a solid knock on the back door diverted Todd’s attention to the friendly face on the other side of the window. It was Mr. G, a local businessman in town. Mr. G started his business in Griswold. It had quickly prospered so he opened another agency in the city. But he just couldn't give up his small town office. Mr. G was a familiar name but Todd didn't see him often. “Hello, come in, welcome!” Todd smiled as he opened the door. “A little nippy out there, Todd, Hope you're staying warm.”

17: The two men exchanged a little small talk about how their businesses were doing, their families and annual traditions during the holidays. “Well, I better get to the point, Todd. I saw in The Griswold American that you're planning on opening your doors again this year on Thanksgiving for anyone who will be alone or could use a free meal. I think that's mighty good of you people." Mr. G's voice cracked as though he was going to say more, but didn't. He quickly pulled out his billfold from his back pocket. “Here, Todd, I want you to have this, just to help out a little. Maybe it could buy a few turkeys.” “Thank you, God bless you.” Todd watched the big but tender and kind hearted man turn | and walk back out into the snowy darkness before looking into his hands at the stack of bills that had been placed there. More than a few turkeys, Todd thought. God has always supplied. He gives the increase when His servants are selflessly willing to serve His people. “Phyllis, looks like we're in for another 8 inches of snow today!” George said to his bride of 60 years as he clicked off the TV news. “I’m going down to The Bread to get some coffee.” “In this, George! It’s been snowing all night?” “Ya, isn't it great!” George was the oldest ‘kid’ in Griswold. Even though he was colored blind and was missing some fingers from a farm accident years ago, George didn't stop livin life. The

18: only color he saw well was red. So, he wore red, drove red and was known all of the county for the being ‘the old man in red.’ George headed toward town in his red Ford, creeping along the snow covered road with it’s windshield wipers swishing to an even beat. The sun was up but not shining on his early morning drive to Griswold, but the snow covered fields glistened, exposing the indescribable beauty of God's creation. George appreciated God's splendor and was reflecting on that very thing when he spotted a figure of a man walking on the side of the highway, backpack and gear professionally saddled on the massive physique. George slowed down and pulled over. “Need a ride, son?” “Sure, that would be great!” | said the young man, quickly opening the Ford's door to get out of the cold. “Hi, I’m Mike Daniel. Some people call me the Lion Man. I’m walking across the American Discovery Trail from coast to coast. Sleeping in a tent if I can't find something better. I started in October. Hope to be in Colorado by Christmas,” Mike rattled off a spiel George figured he told often because it answered all but one of the many questions he wanted to ask this stranger. “Well, I’ll be,” said George, still trying to comprehend all that Mike told him. “I can see why they call you the Lion Man,” George chuckled, watching Mike take off his woolen face mask which revealed a mane of curly golden brown hair. The

19: young man wore an overgrown beard and mustache to add to the animal like appearance. “Where'd you like to go, Mike?” George inquired, asking the unanswered question. “I don't care. Anywhere out of this snow. Is there a coffee shop or something around?” “I know just the place,” George smiled. | “Griswold is phenomenal! I don't know if it’s the Christmas spirit or if it’s just being in Iowa, but everyone has been so cool! The Sleepy Inn gave me a free room for the night, Todd and Dave here gave me a free breakfast. It was awesome! George gave me a ride into town, yea Iowa is great!” Mike, the Lion Man’s roar could be heard from one end of the restaurant to the other. “I guess by now everyone in town or at least at Our Daily Bread has met Mike. He sure knows how to sweet talk the coffee ladies.” Dave stated while washing dishes back in the kitchen. “He's harmless. They love it. Nice kid. Don't know why anyone would want to walk across the country, though.

20: “Yah, I’m going to conveniently find me a time to sit down and talk with Mr. Lion Man.” Todd agreed as he spread cream cheese frosting on the 3 layer carrot cake he was making. | He said its 6800 miles. That’s just crazy.” “Well, he’s in search of something; down in his soul he is looking for what we have found, Brother. That boy needs a Savior.” | Lion Man Mike

21: Todd was rolling out dough for his pecan rolls when the phone began to ring. Wiping his floured hands on his apron, he quickly answered, “Our Daily Bread, this is Todd, how may I help you?” “Good afternoon, Cathy. What can I do for you? I see. Sure, one of us can come down. Just give me a couple minutes and one of us will be right there. “ “Dave, that was Cathy down at the Methodist Church Office. She said some truck driver was passing through Griswold and stopped, needed to talk to someone. She can't find the Methodist pastor, called the Catholic priest and over to the Lutheran church but no one is answerin’ their phone. She said she considers you and I just as qualified on spiritual matters, so wondered if one of us could come | over and talk to him. Can you go? I’ve got dough up to my elbows!” Dave smiled a grin that lit up his face, “I’d love to!” He immediately whipped off his apron, grabbed his coat and headed out the door. Quietly Todd said a prayer for wisdom on Dave’s behalf.

22: “He's in here,” Cathy whispered as she led Dave into the sanctuary at the Methodist Church. “I just didn't know what to do with him!” said the church secretary. With a shrug of her shoulders, Cathy left the two men and headed back to her office. The sanctuary was dark except for an overhead light above the alter. The church was already elaborately decorated for Christmas with dozens of poinsettias and a large crèeche displaying the Christ child on which the light shown. After the two men greeted one another and exchanged names and polite conversation, Dave got right to the point, “What seems to be troubling you, Zachery?” With burning emotion he replied, “My life is a mess. My wife left me. I’m on the road all the time. . | I never get to see my kids. I can't pay my bills.. I’m desperate. I need something!” Zachery paused and quietly added, “I just don't know what that is.” “Ok, ok,” Dave gently comforted. “Zachery, have you ever accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” “What do you mean?” The words spilled out. Then, Zachery responded, “Ya, I guess. I was baptized. I went to church every Sunday with my parents when I was young. I don't go much anymore. My wife goes and takes the kids.” “Zach, I’m not talking about going to church,” Dave kindly explained. “Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?

23: Have you confessed your sins before Him? Have you asked Him to live in you, to be Lord of your life and commit to live for Him? Zachery shook his head. “The only person I live for is myself. I realized that when Susie left me. She told me I was selfish, never thinking of her and the boys. I missed Tommy's birthday. I guess it really broke his heart. Man, I wanted to be there.” Zachery put his head in his hands and leaned his forehead on the pew in front of him. Putting his hand on Zachery shoulder, Dave caringly responded, “Yes, I’m sure life on the road is not an easy one for a family.” Sitting up, Zachery blurted, “Tell me more, Dave. I know about Jesus. Like I said, I grew up in the church. But what you | are talking about, I’ve never heard anything like that before. Confess my sin? I’ve got plenty of those. You don't know me. I’ve done some really bad things. Jesus isn't going to want a relationship with me. ” Dave smiled, “Oh yes, Zachery. He has already died for your sins on the cross. He made the way so that you can be with God, His Father, someday in heaven. All you have to do is accept it. Tell him. Tell him, just like you are sitting here telling me. Confess everything. Tell him about missing Tommy's birthday and how sorry you are and about Susie and your marriage being on the rocks. Jesus wants to hear it all. He wants you to seek forgiveness and repent of your sins. Ask Him to live in you and to be Lord of your life.”

24: “Just a prayer?” But then what, Dave?” “Nooo, not just a prayer. A life! Start meaning it and start living it. You've been going down the wrong road, Zachery. Repenting means to do a one eighty and start living the right path.” Picking up the Bible next to him, Dave asked, “do you have a Bible? The Bible will teach you how to live the right path. Becoming a Christian isn't all of a sudden going to make your life easier, but you won't be alone. Jesus is with you every step of the way. If I were you, after spending some time with Jesus, I’d get back in my truck and find Susie and your boys. Confess it all to them, too. Seek their forgiveness. One step at a time, Zach. But remember, Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.” | Dave stood up and quietly left the pew as Zachery knelt down to pray. As he walked away, he could hear Zachery crying out to Jesus. With a burden to pray himself, Dave stopped and said a quick prayer for Zachery and Susie. He wished he could do more for the man, but Zachery has to do this alone. By the time Dave got back to Our Daily Bread, he was rejoicing with the angels that another lost sheep had found his way home. | I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. John 14:6

25: Chapter 3 Giving Thanks “Chuck, the library board of directors loved my ideas for the ‘Experience Griswold’ night of events. A couple of the ladies even offered to bake cookies!” Cindy Miller enthusiastically told her husband. “That's just great, Cindy! See, I knew you're plans would get them excited! I heard some fellas down at Casey's talking about the big night. Sounds like the whole town is getting into the spirit of things. The businesses plan on lining the streets with those lantern things. What are those called?” “Luminaries. Yes, I heard that. It will look very festive! Oh! I’ll have to get some for in front of the Library, too! I better put that on my list!” Cindy darted to the office for her notepad. “Hmmm, I wonder what I could do,” Chuck thought to himself.

26: ”We had Mr. Lion Man to our home last night for dinner,” Todd commented matter-of-factly as the two partners worked in the kitchen at Our Daily Bread. “Well?” Dave held back his questions, hoping that Todd would reveal good news about the spiritual conversation he knew the two men would have shared. But by the lack of expression in Todd’s voice, he knew the conversation must not have gone well. “He's a young man who thinks he's invincible. Mike told me he believed in God but he wasn't into religion. I told him I wasn't into religion either! I’m into an ongoing living relationship with Jesus Christ and making Him Lord of my life! He just laughed and said that maybe when he got older he'd think about God,” Todd shook his head. | Dave frowned, “Ah, the plan of many a lost soul. Unfortunately, chances are, they never do think about God. They keep themselves busy trying to live the “American Dream;” in debt, keeping themselves looking for that bigger house, nicer car, more exciting entertainment to fill the void in their heart. They won't slow down long enough to breath. Certainly not long enough to think about God.” “If they simply understood that the only thing that will fill the hole in their heart is Jesus!” replied Todd. “I offered to drive him to the city. He thanked me but insisted that he wanted to walk. I guess that will give him plenty of time to think about what I said. God can do a work that man cannot. We can pray. That's all we can do for him now.”

27: Gary and Kathy Bergstrom opened the front doors of Our Daily Bread, stomping the snow from their boots, faces rosy from the cold but eyes glittering from a mission accomplished. “We did it!” Gary announced to those watching them shake the soft white flakes that shrouded their winter coats. “Kathy, order us some hot chocolate!” “Just what have you done, Gary?” questioned Eloyce as she generously put a dollop of cream on top of the steaming mugs of chocolate. “We found it! We found the perfect evergreen for Main Street Christmas display.” Gary responded triumphantly. “The tree is very big,” added Kathy. Eloyce laughed heartily. “That sounds like some thing you would | do, Gary. I don't think you have ever done anything small!” Gary gave a grin that revealed he was proud to have such a reputation. Bette quickly dialed the number of the farm where she knew she would find Wayne. “He did it! He did it! Hear listen, Wayne!” After answering the ringing phone, Wayne sat bewildered at the noises at the other end. “Bette, is that you?” A squeaky “Mer-ry Christ- mas” was all he heard. Smiling, Wayne said, “OH, its you Jack. Well, I knew you could do it.” Bette again was on the other end of the receiver. “See Wayne, Jack is so smart! He did it. And its only Thanksgiving.

28: I only wish I would have taught him to gobble like a turkey before teaching him a Christmas greeting. “ Wayne smiled. “Now that might have been a bit harder trick, Bette.” “Why don't you come home and we can celebrate?” “What would we do?” | “We could have a nice meal and share it with Jack. I could set the table for three.” Wayne thought for a minute, Ya, its a good day to make some of my sour dough bread. We'll have sour dough for dinner. Jack likes my sour dough, Wayne reminisced. He really did love that bird. “OK, set the table for three. I’ll be home in jiffy and...” “And what, Wayne?” “Thanks, Bette. Just, thanks.” Wayne's Sour Dough Starter (Debra Wink) Day 1: Mix 2 Tbsp whole grain flour and 2 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice. Day 2: Add 2 Tbsp whole grain flour and 2 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice. Day 3: Add 2 Tbsp whole grain flour and 2 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice. Day 4: 1/4 cup (2 oz.) of starter after stirring down. Discard the rest 1 oz. bread flour (about 1/4 cup) 2 Tbsp (1 oz.) spring water

29: “Todd, are you making ham balls this year for your Thanksgiving Dinner? You really can't have a complete Thanksgiving without ham balls,” George asked one morning over coffee. “Ham balls? What's a ham ball, George? Never heard of it.” “What! Never heard of a ham ball? You mean to tell me you lived in Iowa all this time and haven't had a ham ball?! You need to do that, Todd. Its a Iowa tradition!” “Hmm, I just may have to do that, George” Todd agreed. “I bet I could find a recipe up there at the coffee ladies table. Those gals really know their way around in the kitchen.” “Hey, now Todd. I do pretty well in the kitchen myself,” corrected George. | “I bet you do, George. I bet you do. But I just may have to ask Phyllis about that!” Todd smiled as he made his way back to the Our Daily Bread kitchen to prepare for the lunch crowd. Pat's Ham Balls 1 pound ground ham 1 pound hamburger 1 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 egg 3/4 cup milk Ball up 1/4 cup per meatball Put on flat pan and cover with: 1/2 cup catchup 1/2 cup vinegar 1 1/2 cup brown sugar 1t dry mustard Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees

30: Our Daily Bread was full of people soon after they opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day. The restaurant was closed for business. The partners refused to accept money, even for that forgetful uncle who said he'd bring the rolls to the family dinner or for the woman whose dog ate the Pumpkin Pie. Todd sent them away with fresh rolls and pumpkin pie, free of charge. The partners and their families got a chance to sit and visit with those who came; the widow who was estranged by her children, the brothers who needed a good meal, the little family who lived too far away from their extended family to celebrate. All these folks and more became part of the Our Daily Bread family that day. Everyone sat and ate, and ate some more. No one wanted to get up and leave. So they visited | When a new face would walk in the door, those sitting at a table would scoot down to make room for the new comer. More conversation followed. "Kelly, what do you have there?" inquired Todd as 'cat man' Kelly pulled quarts of egg nog out of a bag. "I brought egg nog to share with everyone!" Kelly was a single man that biked across the country with his cat, doing odd jobs and washing windows to make a living. This year, he landed in Griswold for Thanksgiving. "Great!" Todd exclaimed. Dave ran a few meals to elderly shut-ins. He wanted to stay with them, sit and visit, too. But he knew he needed to get back to everyone at the restaurant. He got back just in time for hugs and sincere thank yous, hand shakes and even some tears.

31: “I’m so glad that God has allowed us to be able to do this,” he said half to himself, half to those who were listening. ”Let's pray.” With bowed heads, the small group gave thanks: “Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for food and shelter and all the necessities of life. May all the people of this town give thanks to You and acknowledge that it is You that Supplies us with all our needs. May each of us give You all glory and honor and praise. May we never take it for granted nor ever forget that You are the one responsible for every blessing. Thank you for the sacrifice You made on the tree at Calvary, providing the only way to have a relationship with Our Father in Heaven. May the people of Griswold and every lost soul realize the need they have for you and make the commitment to dedicate their lives to serving you. All this we ask in your holy Name. Amen”

32: Chapter 4 Final Arrangements Gary and Kathy Bergstrom tirelessly worked decorating the Main Street Christmas node with red bows, wrapped packages, white lights and the fine evergreen. Joe Rush stopped by to ask if they needed any help. “The sun goes down one minute earlier every night, Joe. Today, sunset is at 4:37. We better get this done before it gets dark! “I can't imagine being a student of yours, Gary. Your brain is loaded with so much information. Mine would short circuit.” The three adults laughed as they diligently set off to do the task before them. Cindy returned to the library after her one hour lunch break finalizing details for “Experiencing Griswold” event which made its debut later that evening. “Special delivery!” a voice announced as the doors opened bringing in a chilly draft from the cold outside. “Beth, what do you have there?” Cindy inquired, gazing at the most beautiful arrangement of white and pink poinsettias, red berries and evergreen sprigs. “If I didn't know better, Cindy, I would say you had a secret admirer!” said the co-owner of the Flower Basket. Cindy quickly took the card from between two spruce sprigs. Cindy read aloud, “’I just wanted to do my part to make Experiencing Griswold special for

33: you. Love, Chuck.’ Its from my husband. Oh, isn't it beautiful!” “Yes, he specifically said he wanted it delivered today at this time," comment Beth. “It certainly looks festive in here. I think the flowers are a perfect finishing touch!” “That's right, one loaf of fresh baked white bread to every residence in Griswold,” Todd told his employees. “Our Daily Bread wants to give back a little bit to the community that has been so good to us, supporting us and loving us through the last year. Its the least we could do!” “But how are you going to get it to every house? There are at least 500 homes in this town!” Eloyce said in astonishment. | “Door to door, Eloyce! And if there isn't anyone home, we will tie the bagged loaf of bread to the door handle with this ribbon. My children will have a ball making these special deliveries. There's a pizza party afterwards to anyone who wants to help.” “Count me out, Todd. I’m goin home.” Eloyce firmly stated with an underlying smile.

34: the museum for the party at 7. “I will just have to wear my velvet skirt and plumed hat to the cantata,” she thought. “There won’t be time to change!” Marcia wasn’t the only one who was in a flurry. The museum ordered a dozen Poinsettias from | Marcia packed her portable piano she would use to accompany singing groups scheduled to perform throughout the evening at the Dicken's Christmas Party. She had just enough time to drop off the piano before heading down to the high school auditorium to direct the Christmas Cantata at 6 and make it back to the

35: Canoyer’s Greenhouse to arrive at 5. Still trying to find the perfect spot for each, Shiona and Lila were climbing ladders and clearing shelves to make each one picture perfect. “I’m so glad I had my outfit pressed at the Cleaners. It’s just too bad I had to go all the way to the city to pick it up. But I certainly wouldn’t have time to do it myself. Not today!” Shiona proclaimed “Yes Shiona, but we still need to get home to put them on. We better hurry, it’s already 6,” Lila declared. With a final adjustment on the last arrangements, the two women left the museum in the hands of the volunteers. “Cioa! See you 7!” Shiona whisked out museum and drove away in her emerald Jaguar. "This evening certainly has a special feeling in it...its | absolutely magical,” Lila pondered to herself as she walked out the door. “Well, it’s a done deal. The quartet will meet together on Main Street at 7. I got the fellas to wear their black vests and a red garter around their arms. I hope we don’t freeze without a coat!” Wayne informed Bette when he got off the phone. “This is going to be quite a show!” he mused. | Peace on Earth

36: Chapter 5 A Griswold Christmas “O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Hi-im, Chri-ist the LORD!” the Cantata carolers were joyfully strolling past each business, singing traditional Christmas songs which added to the festive atmosphere on the last evening of ‘Experience Griswold. ’The passengers on George's hay wagon were also in the holiday spirit. They too were singing Christmas carols as they passed every block, gazing at the beautiful lights that Griswold residence are so famous. Being Christmas Eve, the mood was especially merry. “If there was a contest, it would be hard to decide who'd be the winner. Maybe we should ask to see their electric bill for the month of December. At least we'd find out who strung the most lights,” chuckled Dick Marshall to his wife Jo, as they sat on the wagon, wrapped in cozy blanket. Then the red Farmall M tractor pulled around the corner to meander down Main Street. “Ahh!” gasps could be heard from every one of George's travelers. “Main Street looks beautiful!” “Its so festive!” “Everyone really got into the spirit of Experiencing Griswold!” “And with the luminaries lining the sidewalk! Its like a winter wonderland! The Christmas display could be the town's Christmas card!”

37: “Its a living Christmas card, anyway; a sure way to show everyone passing through that Griswold that we know how to get into the spirit of Christmas. As the tractor and wagon strolled along Main, Wayne's quartet was pitching a perfect 4 part harmony to ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’ “On the first day of Christ-mas my true love gave to me”... The four men waved as the wagon rambled on past. Down the block, children were heading out of the library, squealing with delight, “Mom, look what I made! Its a gingerbread man! Miss Cindy gave me a cookie, too!” Across the street, guests were arriving at the Cass County Museum dressed in period 1800 England. Charles Dickens would have been there himself, if it | could've been possible. On the outside the building, someone was selling roasted chestnuts. “How did Shiona find someone to sell roasted chestnuts? I’ve never actually had one. We will have to go a buy ourselves a bag, don't you think Dick? Jo asked her husband. “With a smile and pat on the leg, Dick responded, “Oh, Shiona has her connections! Yes, we'll definitely get a bag.” Finally, the tractor pulled its wagon to a stop outside Our Daily Bread. The restaurant was having their annual Christmas Eve 'Soup, Snacks and Singing' to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus with their families and the town. Many people disappeared into the warm building. As they entered, they were surprised to see there was standing room only available in the crowded

38: restaurant. The mood was sober as every person there, young and old were singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Todd and Dave stood together, reflecting silently on all they saw. “Wow, everyone is here. Look, there is Loretta Cable's family from California! The Thursday lunch ladies made it in: Velma and Belma, Phyllis, Bea, Annabel and Esther. There's some of the coffee ladies: Rose, Iris, Myra...and there's Wilma. Kay and Helen are here, Gary and Janet, Fred and Sandy, Bill and Nathalee.” “Well look, even Delbert is here. Hey, there's Stuart and Mitch...And

39: Verlyn Rice, Pete Hockenstad, Rosemary Brodarius, Andy and Kristy and the Turack family!" The singing continued: “O holy child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast out our sin, and enter in Be born in us today...” “Now that is what Christmas is all about” Dave reflected. “Yes, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in every one of us today, Lord Jesus." Todd added. "Merry Christmas, Griswold.”

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  • Title: A Griswold Christmas
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