This Is Your Christmas Card!


[MERRY CHRISTMAS 2012!  OK, this is from last year.  Christmas for this year hasn’t arrived yet.]

1-18-08-1-1For reasons totally within our control, we have decided to join Newsweek and go paperless this year.  We have trepidations.  We know it’s the green thing to do – save a tree and transportation costs, et al, but also know it hurts an already hurting Minnesota paper industry and the postal service.  But life is a compromise – except for the United States Congress.

There are extenuating circumstances.  Our antique computer printer has taken to crimping the left lead corner of the paper as it passes through.  We refuse to send an inferior product.  Ron’s Warehouse was out of envelopes.  Our Forever postage stamps reached forever and thus expired – it’s the first time that’s been known to happen?  And we got tired of the paper cuts – older Minnesota skin becomes drier and more brittle at this time of year.


[The supervisor’s Christmas tree, this year.  🙂 ]


[In keeping with the spirit of the season, here’s our other “daughter” (see “This Week in Music” herein), Lisa Lynn, performing at SAWA on December 15.  She presents our lead-off Christmas song below.]

“Merry Christmas, Darling”:

Lisa was in her 6th hour of performing that day – she had done three hours earlier at a grocery store in Little Falls where she had to play in fingerless gloves because they stationed her in the frozen food section.  Then she came to SAWA from her home in St. Joseph (an hour drive from Alex) on a bad weather night when most Alexandrians weren’t even going into town.  Whatta trooper!  🙂

Christmas letters are basically a means of telling everybody in your address book all the wonderful things you did (and they didn’t) this year.  It’s hard for us.  Our daily diary is on THE WEB and is followed by tens of people.  Some of you may even remember things we did this year that we’ve already forgotten.  When I look back on the calendar I usually think, that was this year?  Where did we go for spring break, for instance?


[Earlier on December 15, our Jefferson High School (JHS) Carolers performed at the winery.]

JHS Carolers:


JHS Carolers:

We did not win the $588 million Powerball jackpot on November 28.  We’re sorry.  Stuff happens.


[What could be more fun?]


[Open up the doors and let the snow shine in!!]


[And take the road less travelled . . .]


[Admire nature’s handiwork . . .]


[Check in on your neighbors . . .]


[Start a fire in the fire place . . .]


[Shake the presents under the tree . . .]


[Admire nature’s handiwork, again . . .]


[Drive the pick-up up and down the driveway, creating an escape route. 😉 ]

Because we have no “news,” we needed a theme for this missive.  We thought maybe something historical to the days of our youth.  But the supervisor noted she has little photographic evidence of her childhood – allegedly because she was poor and couldn’t afford a camera.  Dad worked for a newspaper, so a camera was a tool of the trade – the Obert family has lots of evidence!  We couldn’t keep it “fair and balanced.”  So we decided maybe just a bit of a Christmasy retrospective on our 11 wonderful years here in Vacationland USA on the shores of beautiful Lake Darling.  And maybe just a skosh of some other old stuff.


[Historical anthropologists have concluded this may have been my first venture into the all time-consuming avocation of the annual Christmas letter.  It was 1989 – the supervisor and I were in our “just friends” mode as neighbors in the Astoria condominium, Arlington, Virginia.]


[“Greetings from the top of the Empire State Building.”  Our first trip together was to the Big Apple in 1989.  Cameras at that time used something called film upon which to produce the photograph.]


[The same trip, the supervisor in Central Park.]


[We did winters in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire – here in 1994 with Rose and Dick McMullen . . .]


[Where I sharpened my hard water skills.]


[The sisters Callecod with the two moms at the White House.]


[Then it was on to Minnesota . . .]


[And two feet of snow.]


[The supervisor, a native Hoosier, tried ice skating for the first time at the RCC in 2003.]


[Shopping for fresh lutefisk in 2007.  (OK, it’s the Atlanta aquarium, and yes, I did take the photo.)]


[As e-mailed at the time, June 9, 2007: While driving home from Minneapolis this morning, having attended niece Katy’s graduation party the night before, we got as far as Albany when we decided – “enough of the same mindless blandness of I-94, let’s turn off here.”   So we did . . . and we encountered some charming, tree-lined, hilly, twisty roads of rural Minnesota.  Then somewhere north of Big Birch Lake, between Ward Springs and Grey Eagle (OK, about 10 miles east of Sauk Centre, boyhood home of Sinclair Lewis, home of the Mainstreeters . . . but I digress), we rounded a bend in the road and came upon this!!  Proof positive that this planet has been visited by extraterrestrials, and probably in the not too distant past!!]

The beauty of the season . . .


[Vivian Annen and the supervisor at Terrace Mill, 2006.]


[Lake Cowdry, 2007]


[Andes Tower Hills, 2007, above and the two below (which may have been the temperature).]




[Lake Darling, 2008]

A short video clip from the first game of the 2008 Girl’s State Hockey Tournament, the year the Cardinals were champions:


[Waseca’s Field of Dreams, 2008.  It took us two days to get home from Indiana that Christmas because of the weather.  We got off the Interstates, which were a demolition derby, and took the back highways (we weren’t in a rush).  We saw parts of the Midwest we’d never seen before (Galena, Illinois, the Christmas town; Wartburg College; The Little Brown Chuch in the Vale . . .) or hadn’t seen in a long while (Waseca, site of the 1962 VFW state baseball tournament).]


[Carl Sandburg’s birthplace, 2008, Galesburg, Illinois, like too many such places closed due to a lack of funding.]


[The supervisor and her moose, Black River Falls, Wisconsin, 2009]

MN Xmas 125

[Darling Heights Place from . . . Lake Darling!  We’re in the middle house, Arnie and Jo are on the left, and Dangerous Dan is on right.  I’m obviously out a couple hundred yards onto the lake – the ice at Christmas time is generally around 8 inches thick.]

MN Xmas 150

[Grandson Tom cross-country skiing the neighborhood.]



[Noonan’s Park, above and below, 2010.  Almost the lead photos for this posting because what place better defines winter in Alexandria?]


[One of my favorite photos.  I hope they’re playing David Francey’s Skating Rink CD over the loud speakers.  🙂 ]


[Home, Sweet, Home, 2010]

A short video clip walking the neighborhood, Christmas Eve, 2010:


[The supervisor and grandson shoveling out Home, Sweet, Home, 2010.]


[The supervisor calls for help, 2010.  A St. Bernard with a keg of brandy was immediately dispatched.]


[Christmas Day, last year, I kid you not.  What a difference a year makes!]


[The supervisee’s normal shoveling attire, 2010.]


[Moon over Lake Darling, 2011]


[Downtown Alexandria, above and below, this year.]


Family . . .


[The Callecods, 2002]

christmas '63-64-1-1

[The Oberts, 1964]


[Ruthie’s mom, Janella, 2009]


[My mom, Natalia, 2008]


[And with son Rob, 2008]


[And with Grumpy Old Men in Wabasha]


[Ruthie and Rita, the sisters Callecod]


[Christmas tree shopping, a long time ago.]


[Voted most likely to be toppled by a gentle breeze, Okinawa, 1971.]



Summer highlights . . .



[Home, Sweet, Home, above and below, from the air.]



[This year’s sophomores break ground for the new high school.  They will be the first class to graduate from such in 2015.]

In conclusion, life is a flash mob . . .

Barcelona flash mob:



[Attribution:  All the photos, videos, and words (well, their placement) contained herein were invented by me, except for those that I didn’t (like, I didn’t go to Barcelona).  I did not invent WordPress, the internet, or the computer, all necessary for the dissemination of the photos, videos, and words that I did.]

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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11 Responses to This Is Your Christmas Card!

  1. Sue Engstrom says:

    Thank you, Tom! I hope someone is making a compilation of your missives!!


  2. Greg Noonan says:

    Ruth and Tom, What a wonderful Christmas message! It was indeed great to re-connect with my favorite Minnesota “Twinkies” (wait..what? no more Twinkies?). We wish you the very best of holidays and a sensational 2013. We are truly impressed with your “going green” master work.
    Kathy & Greg Noonan

  3. lisa lynn says:

    You two are just lovely, lovely people, and I am blessed to have made your acquaintance. Thank you for the card, thank you for the video (I “shared” it with my “friends!”) and I will wish you both a blessed Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year! ~lisa lynn

  4. Shelly karnis says:

    Very fun, thanks. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to both of you!! xoxo Shelly

  5. Gretchen Obert says:

    This is your humbug sister. What??!!! You’re not helping our postal workers by not buying stamps and helping to pay their salaries? I wonder if anyone else noticed the Romney bumper sticker wrapped around one of the gifts under your tree. tee hee. I wonder if HE will decide if you have been naughty or nice?! BTW, Ruthie does a spectacular job of trimming the trees and decorating. Looks like a warm and inviting home to spend the holidays. Enjoy! — Gretchen

  6. Brian says:

    This was a great piece of work to put down the paper and pen and pick up the mouse and scanner!
    With the level of work, for the ‘end of the world’ card… (thanks to the Mayan who wanted a coffee break, I can hear it now, 3,000 years and I have not had a break all day). I look forward to next years card at or above the standard we are now becoming accustomed to.

  7. Rita L Simon says:

    Great, Great, Great Card! Now go clean the bathrooms and get ready for company! HEh! Heh! Have a wonderful Christmas with your friends and family! We are supposed to get some little white stuff in a couple of days! Love you both! Rita

  8. Bonnie says:

    So glad you saved the paper because this was much more fun! Merry Christmas, Tom and Ruth!

  9. Greg and Val Trumm says:

    Merry Christmas Tom and Ruth! We so appreciate your friendship! greg and val
    p.s. Go Cardinals! 🙂

  10. Anne O'Flynn says:

    Thanks Tom and Ruth! We just love it when your smiling faces (and the ever-present bottle of wine) appear at our gigs! Annie O’Flynn and Bruce Kelly
    Have a wonderful holiday season you two!!!

  11. Fabulous! So much better than those usual Christmas missives! :)) Especially loved the photos of your house and beautiful Christmas tree…but what the heck is that “Romney” sticker doing on top of that pkg under your tree?! You’d better have a good explanation! ;)) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Ruthie!!!!

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