In many (most) parts of America, when people meet for the first time, the first question they ask is what you do (by which it is understood that they mean "for a living"). In South Dakota, we may get around to talking about that, but the first question is almost always "where are you from?"
That's because South Dakotans feel a deep connection to our place here in the middle of the Country. And while six degrees of separation may be the norm, in South Dakota it's rarely more than one or two. If you don't know someone from the same town as your new acquaintance, someone you know surely does.
Clearly, that's why Dakota Christmas has struck a chord, such that it has been a top seller on the Amazon Kindle this Christmas season. Well-known author, and South Dakota native, Jody Bottum knows where he's from and knows how to tell a tale. It's a collection of seven whimsical, Christmas tales from his childhood revealing deep connections to his family and his place of birth, much of which hasn't changed too much since the 50-year-old grew up in the state.
Dakota Christmas is adapted and expanded from something Bottum first wrote 11 years ago and I vividly remember the first publishing, chiefly from this line about South Dakota Christmas food, which he describes as "Jell-O molds with carrot shavings, chocolate packet pies, neon-pink hams, pricked to death with cloves and drowned in honey." Eleven years ago, a good friend emailed me that line and reading it again reminded me of some good laughs.
When I posted a link to Dakota Christmas on my Facebook page, I was surprised by the diverse number of people who had also read it. But I guess I shouldn't have been. If you live in South Dakota, or if you want to know what Christmas was like out here on plains, you'll want to join that list of readers. Merry Christmas from South Dakota, my home.