This month, we asked our readers to submit replies to the following...
What is your favorite Christmas event and why?
Our favorite Christmas event was created after our first grandchild, Caleb, came into our world on Oct. 19, 1997. Each year, we present our grandchildren with a Christmas ornament at Thanksgiving to decorate their tree as it is put up in their homes. Before it is given to them, we have a metal plate engraved with the child’s name and year on it to be attached to the ornament. Each grandchild has an ornament for each Christmas they have celebrated.
The 2018 tree will be adorned with an Alaskan-made ornament purchased on a recent trip there. Our grandson turned 21 recently, so we have enjoyed this event for 21 years. These ornaments will be taken with them when they leave home. Our hope is that each Christmas season, these ornaments will create happy memories of Christmases past. Leona Knopik, Member of Roughrider Electric Cooperative
Last October 2017, I was visiting with a close friend and she remarked, “Someday, I want my family to experience the joy of giving anonymously to a person in crisis or family in need at Christmastime.” Since Christmas has become so commercialized and the focus may be on “what gift I’d like,” my friend’s message sparked an idea for my family’s Christmas.
Early in November 2017, each of my 11 grand-children, ranging in age from 9 to 34, received a letter and amount of money stating, “to joyously strive to seek out a way of giving to enhance another’s life.” Then on Christmas Day, we would share our “giving” with the family.
As Christmas Day arrived, each family member intently listened as each one told their story. The room was filled with emotional tears of joy and fulfillment. This Christmas memory will be forever treasured in our hearts. Edward Lloyd Sr., Member of Nodak Electric Cooperative
The answer to this question is from days gone by. I used to enjoy going to our 5 p.m. Christmas Eve church service held at Rainbow Valley which closed several years ago due to flood damage and other issues. It was a country church built in the early 1900s. My mother was the organist many of those years, so we would arrive early.
Us kids raced to the tall, freshly cut tree to plug in the lights and watch the bubble lights as they warmed up. We made sure there was water in the stand. We checked the back pew to see if the bags of candy, peanuts and fruit were ready to be handed out by the ushers at the end of the service. We would see people we had forgotten were on the roster and had ties with the area.
We belted out our favorite Christmas carols, including the Norwegian version of “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve.” We sang “Silent Night” by candlelight to the sweet notes of the organ. Young blooming musicians played piano/organ duets and various instruments for offering and preludes.
There was excitement in the air. I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Jesus’ birth in that fashion. Carla Hodenfield, Member of Northwest Communications Cooperative
In the 1950s, when I was a small child, we’d go to Grandpa Bachman’s farm in Minnesota during the Christmas season. Many aunts, uncles and cousins would be there as well. We had hills to slide down and a pond to skate on. The best was when the horses were hitched to the wagon. Grandpa would give us rides. I still remember the jingling of the bells and the smell of the hay. Grandma would have hot cocoa ready for us. Such beautiful memories. Carol Schumacher, Member of Capital Electric Cooperative
The children’s Christmas program is a favorite of mine. I remember performing in the program every year during my eight years in elementary school. It was fun and scary at the same time. You practice for weeks and then the big night is finally here.
You dress in your best clothes or a costume if needed, and with butterflies in your stomach, you go on stage. Of course, it all works out and you enjoy yourself.
As an adult, I have attended many programs watching my daughter and nieces act and sing in the program in which they are performing. It is more enjoyable seeing them perform for us.
It is a treat to see the faces of the children as they perform for all of us in the audience as they sing all the Christmas carols and bring the nativity scene to life, knowing they have done the best they can to entertain friends and relative.
The holidays come and go, but the reason we celebrate is always the same. “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Bernie Wanner, Member of Roughrider Electric Cooperative
For so many reasons, community Christmas cantatas are my favorite Christmas event. First, because cantatas capture the essence of Christmas in word and song. Typically, the melodies are as moving and powerful as the message that is shared through the song lyrics and narration.
Second, because of all the local talent in our communities. The many varied voices unite together creating a strong sense of hope, making it seem as if all strife really can cease and that lions and lambs can really lie down together.
Lastly, the preparation is anything but simple, since they take hours and hours of work, practice and coordination. But when performed, they are simply magnificent. Cantatas are my favorite Christmas event and I greatly appreciate those who gift them to our communities. Cindy Klapperich, Member of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative
GLOW OF CANDLELIGHT
Christmas is always a special family time, especially when we come together for Christmas Eve. Supper is served early so we can attend the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The organ softly plays many of our favorite Christmas carols as we arrive in church and are greeted by family and friends also attending the evening service.
A Christmas tree is brightly lit at the front of the church and bells are heard as the pastor welcomes everyone. The scripture announcing the birth of Jesus, the children’s songs and an angelic choir once again remind us of God’s love. Then, the lights become dim and the organist reverently plays “Silent Night” as each person lights a candle. The glow in each face offers a smile of peace, knowing a special song will be sung, including a verse or two in German. A hush falls over the congregation as candles are diminished. And then, bursts of joy and hugs are shared as each greets another Christmas Eve with family and friends. “Unto us a child is born.” Ann Knecht, Member of Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative
CHRISTMAS AT HOMEWOOD
Imagine this: You’re driving down an old dirt road on a crisp winter evening. In the distance, you begin to see the glow from a big red barn. You pull into the yard, walk through the crunchy snow to the door, and open it. You then proceed to walk up the stairs to a loft filled with Christmas trees, dazzling lights and 300 people waiting for the festivities to begin, and you take a seat.
Christmas carols begin to fill the loft. You feel a euphoric sense of Christmas as you sing along to your favorite tunes. After the concert is over, you go downstairs and fill your plate with more Christmas goodies than you could ever imagine and then fellowship in Christmas spirit with all your friends, family, and even strangers.
This is how I feel when I attend Christmas at Homewood. This is a Christmas concert that my grandparents hold annually in their 100-year-old barn that was recently renovated by my family. This is the same farm that my ancestors homesteaded near Valley City in 1883 that they then named “Homewood.” To me, this event is more than just a concert. It is my favorite Christmas event, and it truly embodies what Christmas means to me. Victoria Christensen, daughter of Frank and Laurie Christensen, Members of Northern Plains Electric Cooperation
SHARING FROM THE HEART
The Schaper family, featured in this month’s “Recipe Roundup” shared replies from the younger generation. The four children of Mark and Melanie Schaper, members of McKenzie Electric Cooperative, answered this month’s Reader Reply question with the following:
Matthew Schaper, age 8:
My favorite Christmas event is opening presents because: 1. You get fun, new toys. 2. It is fun to see what you get. 3. I have such loving parents.
Emelie Schaper, age 8:
My favorite thing about Christmas is listening to Bible stories. Here is why: It tells us about how Jesus was born. Also, I like listening about how Mary had Jesus and there was no place to stay for Jesus to be born and how they traveled to Bethlehem. The story is at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Grandpa reads the story to us. That is my favorite thing about Christmas.
Samantha Schaper, age 7:
My favorite Christmas event is praying! Why? I’ll give you numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. 1. It reminds us that’s when Jesus Christ was born. 2. It helps Jesus know that we are praising Him. 3. It reminds us that Jesus is our Savior. 4. It’s the most popular time to do Bible before bedtime. That is why my favorite Christmas event is praying.
h Schaper, age 8:
My favorite part about Christmas is the celebration in Dodge or Halliday. We get bags filled with candy and nuts. You can go around the town on a horse-drawn sleigh. You can eat as much as you want at the potluck. There’s hot chocolate at the potluck, too. There is always food left over. It is always fun! That’s how come it’s my favorite part of Christmas.
JANUARY: Meet the 2018 Reader Reply winner!
FEBRUARY: Describe your most satisfying volunteer activity.
Deadline for submission: Jan. 15