My friends Susan and KB are two of my closest girlfriends. I met them when I transferred to Luther my junior year in college. I got to know KB over the summer before classes began. My childhood friend Blane knew her from many college theatre productions and so our social circles overlapped quite a bit. This is bound to happen in a small college town, and since we both spent many a night at Zahasky's drinking Blatz and singing along to Hank Williams on the jukebox, it was only a matter of time until we bonded.
My friendship with KB led me to Susan, who came on campus a few days early to help with orientation for incoming freshmen. As fate would have it, her first night back in town was the night we were out with the Biseks celebrating the new microwave in the RV...it was a wild, crazy evening full of pickled eggs and Wisconsin beer, sure to cement any friendship for life.
Though we were very tight in college, when we graduated we went our separate ways and were only in casual contact for the first few years. But when KB finished grad school and moved back to MSP, the three of started hanging out a bit, which turned into quite a bit, which turned us into a tight-knit threesome. We got together on Monday nights for dinner and Northern Exposure. We'd usually pool resources for dinner one or two more evenings in the week, and then we'd have weekend fun ahead of us, as well. We knew pretty much everything about each other. It was awesome.
We developed a little tradition of doing a little exchange of presents at dinner the week before Christmas. We took turns hosting it, and would spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect gift for the other two.
The year KB lived with Mary and Mark on Sheridan Ave, it was her turn to host. I was working in retail at the time...as busy as we were that day, the clock still seemed to creep, so much was my anticipation for the fun we would have that night. When I got out of work it was snowing. A perfect, beautiful snow that made driving a bit difficult but reinforced my Christmas cheer. I stopped to pick up some wine along the way, and made my way to Karen's. We had a lovely candlelit dinner, talked smart and shared stories of our days, and then sat on the sofa with a bottle of cheap merlot and a bunch of hershey's kisses to open our presents.
Susan worked at Walker Art Center, so she had a discount in the gift shop. She gave us each arty, cool earrings...Karen's looked like a bunch of bead grapes, mine were long, slender beads on a lovely gold little wire. I bought the three of us tickets to see the Roches at the Guthrie. (Actually, it might have been Mary Chapin Carpenter, but my gift was definitely concert tickets...that was a fave theme of mine in the 90s.)
So then Karen went to get our gifts from under the tree. She was positively giddy with anticipation. She'd been shopping with her friend Darlene and saw them at Dayton's and knew we HAD to have them. Susan and I ripped the paper off our gifts, opened the boxes and pulled out the most fabulous metal candle holders in the shape of parading frogs holding torches (a taper candle went in the torch spot). They ROCKED. And even better, though KB didn't know it at the time Darlene got her one, as well. They sit proudly in our homes to this day.