S: Remembering Christmas
BC: Christmas 2006 | Christmas 1968 | Christmas 1986 | Christmas 1975 | Christmas 1977 | Happy Birthday, Jesus | Christmas 1982
FC: Remembering Christmas | A tribute to our wonderful parents Helen and Everett Barta
1: Helen and Everett both grew up celebrating Christmas, but hard times meant sacrifices. | Dad wrote: "For the greater part our food was farm produce. We had a garden for fresh vegetables and canned a lot for winter. We butchered a beef and hog or two in the fall late enough to freeze it on the back porch. Throughout the year we had fresh turkey, chicken and eggs. We had cows for milk and separated it and sold the cream. The cream check bought groceries. With a little money left, we kids would get five-cent candy." | Although they became engaged in 1936, they could not afford to get married until four years later. Most of that time they spent apart as Helen moved to Seattle. They wrote over 1100 love letters to each other.
2: They welcomed a little girl in 1941. She was such a happy baby, that they named her Bonnie. Everett worked in Bismarck as a carpenter and builder, but when Bonnie turned three they purchased the homestead, which was just south of Steele, from Everett's parents. They moved there in March of 1943, and spent their first two week snowed-in. | Life was hard when they moved to the farm, but with the help of a new tractor things started looking up. Bonnie was a great help to her dad around the farm! She was looking forward to riding a little red peddle car to the rural school house, but because she had asthma they moved into Steele.
3: In 1943 Kathleen Ann joined her mom, dad and Bonnie. When she was born with so much dark hair Bonnie thought she had hair just like "Charlie," her favorite horse! Bonnie became the "little mother,'' and since Cathy was a climber, she would run get Mother to catch her before she reached the top of the piano. They liked to play in the "forest" the stand of trees north of the farm. Once they moved to Steele there were plenty of friends to play with them.
4: Most of the holidays were spent in Jamestown with Grandma and Grandpa Barta, Aunt Elma and Uncle Howard, and Vernon and Duane. Uncle Howard was so funny. He always said that if the dishes weren't clean, it was the dish drier's fault. We stayed at Grandma Barta's but we always had Christmas Eve at Aunt Elma's house. | In 1948 we drove to Washington and spent the Christmas with the Hills. What an adventure. We drove through the snow and ice and over very snowy Snoqualmie Pass. We had fun with Grandma and Grandpa Hill, Uncle Chet, Aunt Mabel, Aunt Lillian, Uncle Hegge, and especially the Iverson cousins - Cammie, Steven, and Sheila.
5: In 1950 Charette joined the family. What a smiley, happy baby she was. She looked so much like Bonnie as a baby, that Mom put up a picture of Bonnie, and we thought it was a picture of Charette. She liked to go to the farm with Dad where she would ride the tractor and even a calf or two. | With the birth of Charette, our little family of five was complete. We lived in Steele, close to the school - only 3 blocks away - in a snug little two bedroom house. But as the family grew older, the little house became too small and Mom and Dad built a new 4 bedroom house just next door.
6: Our tree had blue lights, blue balls, light reflectors, and lots of tinsel. There were a few older ornaments - the birds and striped glass balls. We later added bubble lights upon Charette's request.
7: There were other traditions - the tree branch candleholders Dad made for Mom on their first Christmas, the angel chimes - Kathy's favorite - the red glasses, that held the frozen fruit, that Mom had since she worked at Green's Department Store in Seattle, and the cellophane wreaths hung in Bonnie and Kathy's windows | The most important decoration was the creche Mom set up each year. Several years later, Dad made the stable in which to put the holy scene. Each year we had a church Christmas pageant depicting the birth of Christ along with the singing of the carols. We were forever angels! Although we didn't celebrate Santa Claus as the giver of gifts, we would hang a stocking which was generally filled with fruit - our favorite was a tangerine - and candy. We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. We always received new flannel pajamas. They were so soft and warm - it was a gift that was cherished. We also received underwear, clothes and a few toys.
8: It just wasn't Christmas without sweets - homemade of course - included always were sugar cookies, Spritz cookies, yule logs, and yummy fudge. Mom sure was a good baker! | Grandma Barta always made divinity - Kathy enjoyed it until she and Duane ate the whole bowl! Christmas morning there were always Mom's carmel cinnamon rolls
9: When Bonnie went off to college, Mom contacted her roommate to get ideas for a gift for Bonnie. Her roommate bought a blue knit dress that Bonnie had tried on but was too expensive to buy. When Mom got it, she wrapped it up in a oatmeal box. Bonnie loved to pinch and squeeze packages, so she was totally confused by the wrapping. She was really surprised and pleased when she opened it. But it did not top the time that she untaped the package that she got from Jack when she first started dating him. She had to hurriedly retape and rewrap the package when Jack called and said he was coming over from Mandan to see her open her package. Even that experience did not stop her from "checking out" packages under the tree.
10: Mom was a big tease when it came to presents. She would spend weeks before Christmas trying to think of ways she could disguise the packages. One year Mom bought a mint green angora sweater with a matching skirt for Kathy. She wrapped them in a big box and put beer cans as the top layer. She had one of her friends - Emma Kapp - get them out of her neighbor's trash can. It was certainly a shock to everyone when we saw what was in the package. | No one was immune to Mom's tricks. One year Charette wanted a bowling ball. Mom put a big rock in one of her packages and wrapped it up. Charette was so excited because she was sure the package contained her big wish. She was so disappointed when she found the rock!
11: It became a tradition to have a family picture taken each year at Christmas. The first picture was in 1950, the second around a new prized possession - the TV - was taken in 1953., the third about 1955, the fourth in 1956, the fifth about 1970, and the sixth in the 1980's. It is a pictorial chronicle of our family.
12: Our family expanded when Jack married Bonnie. They met sitting next to each other in convo. Jack's mother said Bonnie changed her name for "a to hell!" Later Kiki became the first Grand. She was the cutest and smartest baby ever! | Then five years later, along came Chip. He loved Christmas and always made lots of adventures with his toys after Christmas
13: Five years later, in 1975 , Kris joined the family. Auntie Bonnie had lots of fun with her trying to get her to sit up at two months then laughing as she fell on her face! She even covered her face with marshmellows while everyone laughed and took pictures. Kris loved being with her big cousins. | Our immediate family was finally completed in 1981 with the birth of Linne. It was cold and icy when we flew into Bismarck in 1982 for our last Christmas in cold country. Employees boarded the plane in cleated boots carrying quilts in which to wrap the little ones. They wrapped them up and carried them into the terminal. Kris, Chip and Kiki had so much fun with Linne that Christmas. Chip would put a balloon just out of her reach and laugh as she tried to reach it. Kiki got a new exercise partner in Linne. It is a Christmas we will never forget!
14: What a blessing the Grands were to Mom and Dad. Here look-a-likes, Linne and Papa, examine a hammer. Nana loved to read Bible stories to the kids. Nana never lost her sweetness, especially with her grand babies | Kris enjoys her extended family. She has a good laugh with Uncle Jack. At her encouragement, Papa began building furniture for us. He also helped her redo the kitchen in her first house. What a job - but together they got it done. And, yes, that is toilet paper on Mom's head!
15: Chip was our funny story teller. He loved to be daring. He built a bike ramp and paid the neighborhood boys to lay down so he could jump over them. He was so loving and patient with Nana and would tease her with Benya. We love you and miss you | Kiki our #1 Grand was the first to add a grand-in-law, Brett. Kiki loved to have Nana use her flannel board to tell her stories about Jesus. She is caring on the baking tradition with her Kiki cookies!
16: There is always a Christmas tree wherever we gather. Our Christmas Day began early with stockings, then breakfast, followed by Dad's reading of the Christmas story from the Bible, and ended with long taking-turns-opening-presents. But it wasn't Christmas until Dad got his peanuts! | Bonnie's traditional tree | a tree decorated for Papa | Kathy's tree of lights
17: The Truskos added the first Great Grands - Niko first, then in 2000, Dom. Trey may have been the last of Kiki's guys, but he made his birth special by coming as a birthday present on Niko's birthday. They are friends and competitors, busy in school and scouting.
18: Kris and Ryan provided us with the latest additions to the family. Emma arrived in 2006, and Owen joined her in 2008. They live in Denver where they can really enjoy the winter snow and the mountains, and Ryan can do his mountain climbing. | Emmerson Grayce's 1st visit to Santa | A Christmas welcome to baby Owen | "Here's how you do it, Owen" | Grandkids are great. I wish Nana had been able to play with Emma and Owen - she would have loved it!
19: Charette is our family photographer so there are not as many picture of her. Living in Minneapolis, her favorite sport is snow shoveling. Here she shares some time with her nieces and nephew.
20: The now "older generation." Bonnie and Jack escape the winter chill of Seattle in Florida. Kathy, a breast cancer survivor, is joined by her family and friends in the "Race for the Cure." Charette enjoys talking to "Teddy Roosevelt" in Mandan.
21: The Grands and Great Grands are making their own traditions each Christmas - a little of the old, but mostly the new for them. They are all busy living their lives and trying to keep the kids active and learning. The Truskos and Edwards have had their share of moves. Only Tony and Linne have stayed in the same area in the past 10 years.
22: Thanks, Mom & Dad, for the love, the laughter and the Christmas celebrations.
23: Christmas through the years