Rob Kupec does Slovak Christmas

Since exploring more of my genealogy  we now do a “traditional”  Slovak Christmas Eve Dinner.  It includes sauerkraut soup and cracking open wall nuts to see what the next year will bring.  It is also tradition to set an extra place setting for dinner in case any travelers happen by.  When Quinn was little he would keep looking at the window for travelers.  After dinner we take a ride and look at Christmas lights around town.

Rob Kupec

Downtown was Hypnotic!

Good afternoon! Thanks for asking for submissions on this topic…here’s a few of mine.
I have very fond memories of shopping for my mom and brother with my dad in the weeks before Christmas in downtown Fargo at Daytons, Herbst, JC Penney’s and also Leeby’s Bakery.
The big department stores were probably very soon to be added to West Acres but there was a time in the early 70s when I was little that shopping was still down downtown. The decorations in the windows and along Broadway were hypnotizing! Dad took me and my brother out on separate trips to shop for my mom, grandma, and other family and it always included a trip to Leeby’s for holiday treats. My brain could not fathom how the bakers could create so many wonderful and delicious cookies and candies for Christmas. I thought for sure they made all the cookies every kid in Fargo-Moorhead wanted to leave for Santa!
In later years the holiday shopping trip with my dad evolved into an evening at West Acres with dinner at the Walgreens restaurant. It was a nice end to a busy spree watching the lights and the shoppers walking through the mall. The tradition again changed to Dad sending me out to shop while he moved from comfy spot to comfy spot in the mall watching me go from store to store with his list (walking was difficult due to his arthritis) and then treating the family to dinner at the Grainery restaurant to cap off the holiday shopping season.
While my mom is shopping machine and my dad was the kind of guy that wanted to just get in and get out, they both taught us that Christmas is not about commercialism or what you get. I learned that the anticipation of festivities is as fun as the event. The weeks leading up to the holidays was magical and exciting every year. It wasn’t until I was grown that my folks shared with me just how hard it was for them to give my brother and I the best Christmases we could ever remember. We received beautiful gifts every year and always with an element of surprise that to this day I really feel that only Santa could deliver!
Along with the fond memories of happy Christmases filled with wonder, my earliest memory of it all began with meeting Santa when I was very little. I was old enough to know our house didn’t have a chimney and assumed that Santa came to our house through the front door. That was confirmed one year when my neighbor Dolores’’ father dressed up as Santa for her daughters one year and she had him come to our house for a visit Christmas morning. My mom has a cassette tape recording of the visit and the whole time all I can say is “Ho, Ho, Hoooooo!!!” repeatedly and very loudly. My mom tells me the following summer, Dolores’ dad was painting her house and we were visiting. I had never met him before his visit as Santa and couldn’t have known it was him painting her house. My mom says that I stood by the ladder asking him if he knew Santa. She figures I must have recognized his voice even though I most likely couldn’t have known it was him out of costume. Ho Ho Ho Mr Myers! lol
Well, sorry for the long stories. Thanks again for inviting folks to share their memories. I bet you’ll have tons to work through and edit!
Have a great holiday!
Jodie Helgeson

I’m dreaming of (the movie) White Christmas

We’ve had a number of Christmas traditions over the years. I remember my mom making a killer turkey and my dad teasingly asking if the potatoes were real (as opposed to instant). We’d open our gifts on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve because I believe that’s how Santa wants it. And while opening gifts, we’d nibble on the best brioche ever baked by our friend Kay Leclerc. The only gift we’d receive on Christmas Eve was a pair of pajamas. (I think that was because Mom wanted us looking good for any photos taken on Christmas morning.) We’d often put on our new jammies  and then Dad would read “The Night Before Christmas” to us.  In recent years, I’ve loved watching my children sing in the church choir during the Christmas Eve service. They’re dressed in their Christmas finest and sometimes they even let me comb their hair.

But the tradition that most stands out to me is something that my family started when I was probably a teenager and continued well into my adult years. It started with a trip out to the car. The five of us: Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother and me would pile into whatever Buick my dad owned at the time. We’d drive from neighborhood to neighborhood looking at the light displays. I remember some nights it was so cold that we had to keep wiping the windows to stop them from fogging up. The drive always ended with Dad’s favorite part, driving down the busiest streets in town to see how deserted they were. Looking at the parking lot of West Acres that, hours earlier, was filled with cars, now nearly empty. There’d always be a couple of cars left. We always speculated why. Were they stranded with dead batteries? Left behind because the driver got a ride with someone else? We always guessed but never knew.

As soon as our drive was over we’d go inside and put on our pajamas. Then we’d pop in our tape (yes, videotape) of “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times we’ve seen it. We know all of the songs by heart. I don’t remember ever getting bored. I didn’t love that song that Betty (Clooney) sings after she left Vermont to sing in New York City. She’s mad at Bob (Crosby) and she sings a song raking him over the coals. She frustrates me because poor Bing or Bob or whatever (I’m pretty sure Bing wasn’t acting much in this movie. Bob is pretty much Bing if you ask me) had no clue what he did to make her mad. But the rest of the music is out of this world good: “Sisters,”  and “The Best Things Happen while you’re Dancing” are my personal favorites. Every year, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen’s dancing makes me happy. One of my Christmas joys for sure!

As the movie came to an end, some of us would have fallen asleep on the floor, usually my brother in law. But most of the time we savored every last minute. Then we’d be off to bed. In recent years, the tradition has waned a bit. Our family grew. Too many of us to ride in one car. We moved to different houses and had kids of our own, so it wasn’t easy for all of us to hunker down and watch a movie. But maybe this year, we’ll bring it back. I think we owe it to Bing, Rosemary, Danny and Vera.

Betty raking Bob over the coals with the help of her chorus boys.

There were never such devoted sisters….


My favorite movie dance scene of all time!