Capitol Christmas tree

Following last week’s announcement that the 2014 Capitol Christmas tree will be chosen from the Chippewa National Forest (CNF), area residents began to show their excitement. The National Forest sent a Christmas tree to Washington 20 years ago, in 1992.

Deer River resident Lloyd Styrwoll recently brought a newspaper clipping in to the news office. It was taken from the Santa Barbara News, Santa Barbara, Calif., dated Dec. 10, 1992.

The column, by Barney Brantingham, is reprinted with permission from the Santa Barbara News. .


Off the beat
by Barney Brantingham, Dec. 10, 1992

Deer River Christmas tree tale

Dianne Riffle teaches at UCSB and hails from the tiny Lake Woebegone-ish town of Deer River, Minn.

That’s Grandma Sinkola country.

It’s also home of the National Christmas Tree, lighted at the White House on Wednesday.

Here, in part, is Dianne Riffle’s story about Deer River, The Tree and Grandma Sinkola, a fierce, babushka-wearing Finn:

“She was hard.

“The smallest breach, the slightest departure from her rigid but unverbalized expectations of what was right… would draw out a thunderball of the blackest, vilest, Finnish curses imaginable — language that curled the spine and left the house in silence for days.

“This country had done her no favors, but she loved the land, the farm, the swamp, the Mississippi in her backyard and the birch and pines that reminded her so much of life before 20, when she and Henry took the romantic leap of faith and crossed the ocean.

“Anger was her breath, sure as the smoke the curled from her lips when she smoked the cigarettes she rolled from newsprint.

“She’s been gone 40 years this winter.The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

Subscribe Now or Login