The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

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By Sheila Zanghi
contributing writer 

Holiday dinner drama


November 19, 2022

Sheila Zanghi.

Everyone has a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner story, but my personal favorite is about my sister, Jan.

To appreciate my enjoyment of the story it helps to understand that for years I had been the "paha tytto" (bad girl) who had done something wrong. The incident became part of my Finnish family's lore. Finns love to tell stories around the table and my story became legend. This embarrassing story was repeated at every holiday meal to the delight of my relatives.

What happened was I was memorizing "Hyvaa joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta" which is "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" in Finnish. My relatives spoke Finnish but as a second-generation, 4-year-old, I hadn't had years to memorize this phrase. It was a snowy and icy five-hour trip from Gilbert, Minnesota to our family farm in New York Mills. I repeated the phrase to my parents endlessly while bouncing up and down in the back seat in anticipation of reaching the farm. It always seemed the longest part of the trip was the drive from the main road to the farmhouse. It took at least 40 minutes to travel the weather-ravaged dirt road. The closer we got the more excited I became, and I kept repeating the phrase.

Finally, we parked, trudged through the snow and reached the front door. My grandmother opened the door wide and welcomed us warmly. My proud parents pushed me forward, encouraging me to repeat what I had been memorizing. But, out of my mouth came a terrible Finnish expletive. Grandma and parents were in shock. There was a long silence and then my grandmother started to laugh. In fact, she laughed so hard she had to sit down. This story was repeated to the relatives that night and at every gathering thereafter.

Therefore, I was so glad when my newly married sister, Jan, got a taste of my medicine when she hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. Many relatives, including grandparents, gathered at her house. She had worked hard on the dinner and was the gracious hostess making sure everything was perfect. She didn't even accept help in the kitchen because she wanted everyone to enjoy visiting. She set out the buffet and called everyone to eat. She announced, "Sui kinni!" The group was silent and confused. Instead of using the phrase for "come eat" she had told the crowd to "shut up." I repeat this story to everyone, even strangers, as often as possible because payback is so much fun.

I hope you make many wonderful memories this holiday season and Happy Holidays to all.


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