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Creamed onions and reindeer sneezes

A friend mentioned she was making creamed onions for Thanksgiving dinner.

The memory flashed in my mind, “Santa’s reindeers never catch a cold because they eat creamed onions,” my dad told us at the dinner table. He passed the warm bowl in my direction. I passed it to my Gran. The soupy mixture with floating eyeball-sized onions didn’t appeal to me in the least. “I’d rather catch a cold,” I told him.

And so began the latest health update at the table.“Think about it, Anne, have you ever seen a sleigh of Santa’s with a missing reindeer?” he asked, pausing his carving duty.

“Dad, I’ve never even seen Santa or his sleigh in the sky. How would I know if one was missing?” I retorted with a snarky attitude.

“Well, in all of my years, I’ve seen it plenty of times and those reindeers fly in the harsh, cold winter weather, with no jackets. They fly in the rain and the snow and sub-zero temperatures and not one of them ever sneezes!” He sounded like an North Pole expert.

“How would you even know if they sneezed? You can’t hear them from that far away.”

“Are you kidding me? On Christmas Eve I have super hearing powers. I hear everything! How did you not know this?” he asked seriously.

He turned to my mom who had a big grin on her face. She nodded her head at me, with her blue eyes open wide. “It’s true. He has great hearing and he can pick up the reindeers’ course in the sky,” she fibbed.

I must have been six at the time. It was back in 1958, a simpler time for kids. We believed for a longer time back then.

“So the reindeer eat creamed onions and don’t catch a cold and you get super hearing on Christmas Eve?” I asked, confused.

“Well, where do you think I got the special hearing from?” he asked.

He passed the bowl of creamed onions back my way.

I put two onions on my plate. I figured I could do a chipmunk move and hide them in my cheeks if I didn’t like them. I thought it would be really cool to sit up with my dad and track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. I plunked one onion into my mouth.

It was gross! But missing out on that sleigh sounded worse. I ate both onions and I didn’t sneeze that entire winter. My dad was a genius!

— Anne Bardsley

Anne Bardsley lives in St Petersburg, Florida, with her “wrinkle maker” of a husband and two spoiled cockatoos. She’s still recovering from raising five children. She is so happy she didn’t strangle them as teenagers as they’ve given her beautiful grandchildren. She is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause and Angel Bumps. She blogs at

Reflections of Erma