Christmas traditions (slideshow)

As “A Christmas Story” does for some folks, storyteller Pati Kachel did for guests in search of a fun Christmas tale or two at a Rush City bed-and-breakfast on Sunday afternoon.

Kachel shared a variety of Christmas memories from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, a simpler time with tales of her fun-loving Grandma Bert, flamboyant hats and Bing Crosby records while growing up in St. Anthony Village, Minn. She put on three performances during an open house Dec. 1 at the Maple Knoll Inn Bed & Breakfast, 685 S. Bremer Ave., in Rush City.

Dressed for the occasion in traditional Americana garb were Jeff and Ruth Titus, innkeepers of the bed and breakfast. Along with decorating their home — complete with Christmas tree and classic holiday decor on the main floor, they added flavor to the event with Kachel’s unique storytelling.

In one story, she said her family sang a prayer while holding hands around the dinner table. It was 1972, and her Grandma Bert was going to give a Norwegian blessing. Then the unexpected happened. Somehow, she fell over, with a humorous aftermath.

“She said she flipped a wig,” Kachel described of her grandma’s comedic reaction. “The best gift of all was the sense of humor from my Grandma Bert.”

Another gift from her grandma was “loyal friendship,” Kachel added before reciting a poem.

With familiar and not-so-familiar props to the adults and children in attendance, Kachel painted pictures with her words in story and poetry and incorporated music and even sing-alongs to draw listeners into her performance, called “The Christmas Presence.” She donned colorful costumes and brought people back in time with memorable, humorous and heartwarming tales.

A nationally known performer, Kachel is a member of the Salt of the Earth Storytellers as well as a founding member of the Twin Cities-based Story Arts of Minnesota. She has shared her gift of storytelling across the nation, from Pittsburgh to Seattle, and internationally with performances in Canada and the Netherlands.

Back at the Maple Knoll Inn, Ruth Titus gave tours of the three guest rooms, each with a bathroom, and a living area for all to enjoy on the second level. Because the property has an abundance of old maple trees, the innkeepers outfitted the rooms with the colors of their names: Sugar Maple, Silver Maple and Red Sunset Maple.

The Tituses opened the bed-and-breakfast, located across from Golden LivingCenter, on June 15 of this year, and they have been busy with guests every week since, said Ruth, noting guests from across the nation and even Japan have stayed there after finding the Maple Knoll Inn on the Internet.

Antique fabrics, items and even family heirlooms have been used to help decorate the interior. The bathroom tile and old push button light switches also help keep a periodic look, Ruth said of the home’s theme.

The bed-and-breakfast can accommodate six guests at a time, and there’s opportunities for sewing, crafting and other activities or hobbies. Guests also can expect to be served organic foods, which is the intent.

“We’ve survived a power outage and a water outage,” Ruth said. “But we thoroughly love it. It has definitely exceeded what we had hoped, and we are not dependent on guests to run the business. We feel fortunate here.”

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