Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays. . . the melody wafts through the air from my Pandora Christmas station, and I am instantly homesick.
Indeed, nothing quite calls out to the Hibbing expatriate community like the hint of the holidays, particularly Christmas and the 4th of July, but let us leave the later for another more time appropriate post. I’ve been absent from this blog (and from Hibbing too) for a while, but like many of my fellow far flung Iron Rangers I can’t resist December’s annual beckoning to come home to family and familiarity.
I’ve been counting down. In fact, most phone conversations with my parents and/or my sister (all of whom are in Hibbing) in the last month have begun or ended with only X more days until I see you. Dear Hibbing, the same sentiment applies to you. Oh Town That Moved, I herby resolve to relish the time we spend together this holiday season, enjoying all of my favorite things about you at Christmas.
- · How cute you look all dressed up in snow: It’s true, you’re adorable all covered in the white stuff (particularly this early in the season). The beauty is particularly striking with the red glow of the Androy sign and the crisp white display of the lights at City Hall in the Centennial Fountain. (Note: my sources tell me that it is not yet a white Christmas up in Hibbing. Dear Universe, I expect this to be remedied in time for my arrival.)
- · Holiday foods: I know this is largely true in any community, but there is something special about those regional and local culinary delights that take center stage during the holiday season. Lefse (one of my absolute favorite foods) and lutefisk (a tradition which I appreciate, but refuse to eat) are staples at my family’s Scandinavian celebration. Sarmas, potica, pizzelles and other holiday favorites line tables and bakery shelves.
There is something infinitely comforting about food traditions this time of year. Even though I never drink them, it doesn’t seem like Christmas unless I’m being offered a Tom and Jerry at our annual Christmas Eve celebration. Some tell me this is a sign that Hibbing is clearly stuck in the 1950’s, but the fact that my fashion-forward sister buys the mix every year from Sunrise Deli makes me smile at the charming wonderfulness of it all.
- · Finally family: Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. Family is not unique to Hibbing, well for that matter neither is snow or holiday foods, so I’m clearly on a trend here. Although returning home to see family is what drives people around the world to various communities, I think it’s worth mentioning in terms of Hibbing. I’m thinking back to a conversation I’d had with a friend a few years back about a recent survey of Hibbing tourists. Although motivations like business, mining history, and Bob Dylan were all mentioned as reasons for coming to town, nothing could hold a candle to returning home to see family.
I have to smile this year, thinking of joining the great Iron Ranger Twin Cities exodus on my way up north. I think instead of getting frustrated about getting stuck or slowed down in the mass of vehicles on the 35E/Duluth route, I will take a moment to appreciate that most of us are just trying to do the same thing—take a time out, return to our roots, and celebrate the holidays surrounded by family and friends.
For those of you who are joining me on this journey, I wish us all freeways clear of snow and ice and a very happy Hibbing homecoming.