Writer’s Block: Still recovering from a rough end to 2016

Managing Editor
Mandy has been with ABC Newspapers since 2007, when she joined the staff as the editor of the Anoka County Union. She has been the managing editor of the UnionHerald and Blaine Spring Lake Park Life since 2014.


As we settle into the new year, there is plenty to think about. As a country, we’re in the midst of great change and it’s the time of year when a lot of people reflect on what just happened and plan for the year ahead.

Mandy Moran Froemming
Mandy Moran Froemming

To be honest, I’m still recovering from what was meant to be a 10-day vacation.

For my family, this past holiday season will be known as the year that nothing went according to plan.

And my biggest accomplishment? I surrendered and made the best of things … mostly.

Anyone with family flung far and wide knows that Christmastime is not only hectic, as you try to get from one place to the other, trying to get in time with as many people as possible, but it can also be pretty hazardous.

Especially in the Midwest, or north of the 49th, in my case.

We were heading into that last week before Christmas, and I was working hard to get all of our plans in place and get work wrapped up, stressing about all of the usual seasonal things.

Then my grandpa died. While it wasn’t a complete shock, since he had suffered a serious stroke earlier in the fall, a death in the family has a way of instantly clarifying your priorities.

We had carefully orchestrated plans for that week about how to get everyone where they needed to be – my son and I were hoping to get a few extra days in Canada, and my husband had to be back to the Twin Cities for a few days of work before rejoining us north of the border. Now we were working to incorporate a funeral into those plans.

Then Mother Nature laughed. And she laughed some more.

We packed the truck to head to Otter Tail County to spend Christmas with my in-laws, not sure if we were going to be gone for a day or 10.

It turned out to be a less than 24-hour visit.

A major storm was headed for North Dakota and southern Manitoba, so travel north was looking like a no go. With freezing rain and a blizzard on its heels in central Minnesota, we decided to head back to the Twin Cities fairly early Christmas Day.

We were on Interstate 94, between Fergus Falls and Alexandria, when our sunroof started to rattle.

A few miles later there was what could only be described as sounding like an explosion.

Our entire sunroof (glass, sliding interior cover and all) had been ripped out of the truck and shattered behind us.

It was kind of like the scene in an action movie when an airplane door gets ripped off.

My husband and I looked at each other wondering what to do.

No makeshift replacement would have withstood the 50 mph winds we were experiencing on the road that day.

“Keep driving,” I said. And so we did.

We cranked the heat, covered up my son with blankets and coats and carried on.

To be honest, the noise was far more troublesome than the temperature.

We were home Christmas afternoon, dazed and wondering what was coming next.

After a day and a half, sorting out work schedules and hoping to catch a good travel day, we struck out north again. This time we were packed to the roof in our little Honda, with the truck out of commission.

We made the funeral with 15 minutes to spare.

Then, with my family, we caravanned around southern Manitoba in more terrible weather, got snowed in at my Dad’s and had another 24-hour pit stop to check out my brother and sister-in-law’s new home before we hightailed it back to the Twin Cities, yet again trying to outrun a blizzard.

We logged about 1,800 miles over the course of a week and slept in five different places.

I always thought those people who hop a plane and spend the holidays somewhere warm, like Mexico, were missing out.

But after the holidays of 2016, I just might be ready to trade snow for some sand.

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