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Every so often I get a letter from a reader that erases any doubt about why I do what I do. There’s the Christmas card from a woman who told me she’s kept,  for years, a newspaper clipping from a story I wrote about Christmases spent with my Mennonite grandparents (men in the living room cracking nuts, women in the kitchen, kids in the basement…all of us waiting for our holiday brown paper lunch bags, filled with nuts, mandarines, hard candy and $2 bills). Her experience, she said, was much the same. She’s kept my clipping, I’ve saved her card.

This morning, I received another keeper.

I’ve met so many warm-hearted people while reading and touring with Mennonites Don’t Dance. Many have taken time to tell me stories about where they’re from, their own Mennonite roots. Some of the stories are familiar, all appreciated, many hilarious. Like this one, where Alice Gro explains how she came to use more than 14 plums on her platz.

Congratulations on “Mennonites Don’t Dance”!  As an avid reader of your (and Dean’s!) Courier column, I eagerly awaited your book!  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend your launching at the Kelowna Library, but a few days later I was able to scoop a signed copy for myself and for each of my 4 sisters!  They were great little gifts to take down to the  Penner family Thanksgiving gathering at the coast.

Your stories were as wonderful to read as I expected.  I did not have the “prairie experience my self; I was born after my parents had moved to that B.C. Mennonite mecca –  Yarrow.  (Daughter of Raspberry Penner, who was son of Postman Penner – you know what I mean.) Some of that old prairie ethic certainly did come along for the ride, though.

I had a good laugh at your reference to Peach Pie in “Ashes”.  That instinctive frugality hit me as I was making my contribution to the Penner Thanksgiving feast: Plum Platz.  All my life I thought it was a “given” that  it took exactly 14 plums to make a 9×12 Platz.  Here I was, making 4 of those suckers, and STILL had pounds and pounds of those prolific fruits still on the counter.  The thought of making MORE Plum Platz was crazy-making!  Oh! Wow!  What a thought!  I could STAND THE PLUMS ON EDGE!  I could fit 30 or 40 plums in each pan!  Genius!  (Big hit at the dinner party too!)  We  Mennonites (using the term loosely here) still have some built-in traits, that’s for sure.

Anyway, thanks for the book.  The stories were very thought-provoking.  I am delighted to note that even non-Mennonites are “getting” it, and I am looking forward to more from you!

Sincerely

Alice Gro

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