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FACED WITH CANCER,

Willmar grad pens a book DECEMBER 2019 | JANUARY 2020 | FREE ISSUE


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Liveit! MAGAZINE

Can’t Live without it! A publication of the West Central Tribune

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Copyright © 2019 West Central Tribune Live it! magazine All rights reserved. Although some parts of this publication may be reproduced and reprinted, we require that prior permission be obtained.

Blessed holiday wishes ... The holidays are a time for family and good cheer. Going to church services together as an extended family – I’m talking 20 to 30 people – was a highlight of Christmas for years. Then we’d all get together at the house for gifts and great food, not to mention camaraderie. But things change. The past few years it has been just my husband and myself, which has been a huge adjustment – but the Christmas Eve service is just as meaningful, if not, in some ways even more meaningful. We are always thankful for what we have – we are so blessed. But what do you do when your holidays are unexpectedly turned upside down by an unexpected illness or – worse yet – a terminal diagnosis? Write a book? Not the first thing that would come to mind. However, that is what came out of Kelly Fosso Rodenberg’s diagnosis a year ago. And, as she still deals with her illness this holiday season, she shared her story with Carolyn on how her book came to fruition. Carolyn also talked with a family who has opened their barn for a live Nativity service for more than two decades. Talk about a meaningful Christmas service, this would be at the top of any list. In our DIY piece this issue, Lu shares ideas on giving a present vs. being present. We are also sharing the final article by resident foodie Anne Polta. Anne retired from the Tribune mid-November after 40-plus years. We wish her nothing but the best as she begins a new chapter and a new journey in life. As we move through the holiday season, we would like to extend a blessed and Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all our readers. May you enjoy the spirit of the season and have a wonderful new year in 2020. If you have a topic you’d like to see in Live it!, send your story ideas to liveit@ wctrib.com. We love to hear from our readers. You can also “like” us on Facebook and leave comments there. Life in west central Minnesota … it really is a beautiful thing …

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Watch for our next issue out February 7, 2020. May we publish your letter?

Sharon Bomstad Live it! Editor

On the August cover story (Nolan’s Place): I just read the articles and they’re fabulous! Thank you for taking the time to write such good pieces on autism and aba!

- Sara Athman, via email

On the October cover story (Birding): I knew Wallestad would be in this. I look forward to reading!

- Jacob Belgum, via facebook

Editor’s note:

We love to hear from our readers. “Like” us on Facebook, send us a tweet with your comments or even a new story idea, or email us at liveit@ wctrib.com. Watch for our next issue due out February 7, 2020.

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December 2019, Volume 8, Issue 6

WHAT’S INSIDE FEATURING

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6 Smiles, frustration, tears poured out in book 12 How to help during a crisis 14

Presence of joy and excitement

24 Mix it up for the holidays 27 Warmth and style

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DEPARTMENTS 3 READER’S MAILBAG Tell us what you think 12 Q&A Unforeseen holiday challenges 20 MONEY MATTERS Charitable giving for holidays 21 HEALTH & FITNESS Setting priorities during holidays

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22 DIY A twist on gift-giving 24 TOP IT! Let your imagination run wild 26 READ IT! Celebrate with the library 27 STYLE IT! Scarves a perfect accessory 28 WHAT’S HAPPENING? Mark your calendars 30 SPIRITS Commit to friendships

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‘There’s Something Going on Upstairs’ BOOK SHARES STORY OF WOMAN’S JOURNEY WITH CANCEROUS BRAIN TUMOR By Carolyn Lange clange@wctrib.com Photography by Erica Dischino edischino@wctrib.com

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was a teen. “But it was never, ‘OK, I’m going to write a book about this journey,’” she said. “I’d never once planned on writing a book about this, or anything else.” After writing several segments, however, Kelly said she realized her journal was becoming a book and that her experience, thoughts and perspective could be helpful to patients, caregivers and even those in the medical field. “There are a lot of people that could either learn from this, gain from this, and then it just morphed into this,” she said. The result is a 115-page book, “There’s Something Going on Upstairs: Learning to laugh my way through a cancerous brain tumor, one chemo cycle at a time.” It’s a book that would be welcome in the hands of anyone who’s experienced cancer, is a caretaker and anyone who’s said, “let me know what I can do to help” when they learn someone has a serious illness. Within a couple weeks of being published, she sold her first batch of 300 books and another order of 350 books was on her doorstep as online sales on Barnes and Noble and Amazon continue. Kelly, who grew up on farms near Raymond and Pennock and has relatives still farming here, has held book-signings in Kandiyohi County and near her current home in Chaska. One event in the metro area drew 120 people – including 30 of her Willmar classmates. Kelly said she has been overwhelmed with the responses and reviews, but it’s easy to understand why her book has already touched people’s lives. The smiles, humor, frustration, tears, faith and hope that fill a one-on-one conversation with Kelly is poured into every page of the book she’s written.

K

elly Fosso Rodenberg didn’t intend to write a book. She also didn’t intend to get a brain tumor and terminal cancer. But one year ago the vivacious, organized, fun-loving, hard-working, quick-witted, proud-to-be-a-blond-ifnothing-else-but-for-the-jokes woman was being treated for stage IV glioblastoma and underwent surgery to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball that was entwined in her brain by her right ear. “You get cancer and brain tumor at the same time – it’s the ultimate BOGO,” she said of the diagnoses. “Buy one, get one.” Overnight, Kelly’s life went from full color to black-andwhite as she maneuvered through a dense forest of MRIs, doctor consultations, surgery, radiation, chemo and the blunt reality that she can’t tie a shoe lace and – at 52 – had to retire early because she’s unable to work. Six months after her diagnosis, Kelly started to write about what she was going through. “When you are bombarded with so much heavy, heavy, heavy information – it was an outlet to just think for yourself,” said Kelly, during an interview in an upstairs alcove at LuLu Beans coffee shop in Willmar. “It was a way for me to kind of spew things out and get it on paper, and that has always made me feel better,” she said – giving credit to her Willmar High School English teacher, Kelly Welch, for teaching her how to write well when she

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Something’s not right Kelly woke up on Oct. 5, 2018, thinking a pinched nerve was the cause of her sluggish left hand that was causing typos at her job as an executive administrative assistant.

Photo by Carolyn Lange

Former Willmar High School English teacher Kelly Welch, left, has a surprise visit with his former student Kelly Fosso Rodenberg, who credits Welch for teaching her the skills to write her book about her journey with cancer.


Inhale courage, exhale fear.

WHERE TO GET A BOOK “There’s Something Going on Upstairs” is available in paperback for $15 and e-book for $9.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at www. farmgirlink.com A portion of the proceeds go toward brain tumor research.

With a next-to-nonexistent medical file, Kelly Fosso Rodenberg thought she must have a pinched nerve when her left hand started losing strength and agility. However, the neurologist examining her suspected there was “something going on upstairs,” and brain scans revealed the existence of a golf ball-sized, malignant tumor nestled above her right ear. Rather than hosting a bunco party that fateful evening, Kelly and her husband were scrambling to make life-and-death decisions for a disease about which they knew absolutely nothing. Despite the dire statistics associated with her Glioblastoma—Grade 4 diagnosis, Kelly chooses to focus on hope, humor, and happiness. Sure, life with a fast-growing, terminal brain tumor can be tough, but this farm girl is even tougher. Having experienced both sides of the coin—as caregiver for her husband during his battle with a rare medical condition, and now as caregivee in her own hot mess express—Kelly is all about sharing her experiences in hopes of helping and encouraging others. There’s Something Going On Upstairs is an uplifting story of faith and perseverance, richly informative and inspiring for anyone dealing with a personal crisis. Can the diagnosis of a cancerous brain tumor actually be a gift? Let Kelly count the ways. Kelly Fosso Rodenberg is a life-long Minnesotan. She grew up on farms near Raymond and Pennock in the west central part of the state, and she currently resides in Chaska, a small city close to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Overly organized, detailoriented, and calendar-driven, she excelled as an executive administration assistant at companies including W.R. Maleckar, UnitedHealthcare, and DTN before her medical condition forced her into “early retirement.” Now she is learning to navigate life with a brain tumor, focusing on the good vs. bad, the joy vs. sorrow. Kelly is passionate about motivating every cancer warrior, survivor, caregiver, and well-intentioned soul out there. A share of the proceeds from her memoir will benefit brain tumor research.

Learning to Laugh My Way through a Cancerous Brain Tumor, One Chemo Cycle at a Time

Kelly Fosso Rodenberg

www.farmgirlink.com

BOOK SIGNING

There’s Something G oing on Upstairs

Kelly will have a book signing 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. - Saturday, Dec. 7

Goodness Coffee House, 333 Litchfield Ave. S.W., Willmar, MN.

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LET ME KNOW WHAT I CAN DO TO HELP? Kelly’s advice for helping people with serious illness: • Purchase and deliver basic groceries • Offer rides to treatments • Babysit or provide transportation to school-aged children • Bring a meal • Pet-sit or water plants • Text an inspirational quote • Do something nice for the caregivers • Mail a gift card • Mow the lawn, shovel the snow, do holiday decorating • Send a hand-written card • Donate blood in their name

Kelly, who grew up on farms near Raymond and Pennock and has relatives still farming here, has held book-signings in Kandiyohi County and near her current home in Chaska. One event in the metro area drew 120 people – including 30 of her Willmar classmates.

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For more information please contact Jennifer at 235-8413. 10

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Eight days later an MRI indicated she had a brain tumor and on Oct. 30 she underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Christmas Day was spent in bed, sick from chemo treatments, she started writing her book in April and finished her final chemo treatment at the end of October 2019. During that year there were a series of events and people Kelly lists as Miracle #1, Miracle #2, Miracle #3, etc., in her book as she leads readers along the path of fighting against and living with glioblastoma – a rare and very aggressive form of brain cancer. “The brakes came on immediately,” Kelly said of the life-changing diagnosis. “It went from planning what we were going to do six weeks to six months in advance to what’s my next six hours going to look like.” Unfortunately, Kelly had past experience dealing with a serious illness – but as a caregiver. In 2012 her husband, Bob, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called POEMS and he underwent a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy as part of his treatment. “I’ve been both the caregiver, and now the patient,” she said. “Neither is a walk in the park for anybody.” Bob would’ve been a wonderful caregiver no matter what, said Kelly. But the fact that he had also walked in her shoes made his care especially meaningful and helpful. On the day that Kelly decided to shave her head instead of continuing to watch her hair slowly fall out, Bob not only shaved his wife’s head but also offered to shave off his hair in a sign of unity. Kelly said Bob lost his “beautiful head of hair” during his own treatment and she declined his offer to sacrifice it this time. But the offer was a powerful symbol of the couple’s connection with each other and an example of the need for strong community support. Kelly said her family, neighbors, friends, co-workers and members from her church “came out in force” to provide support – and that made all the difference in the world. But she said some friends responded differently and pulled away and didn’t know what to say or do. “It’s tough to be politically correct around those who have been slammed by a diagnosis with a lousy prognosis,” she writes. “Plain and simple, medical trauma can be awkward, even for adults.”

Reality of the diagnosis One line in Kelly’s heart-wrenching, funny, well-written book seems to pop from the page. It’s at the bottom of page 86. “Deep down I’m just a girl who’s scared,” she writes. The reality of stage IV glioblastoma is not pretty. The median life expectancy is 15 to 18 months, but there are some who have survived for five to seven years, and others who were gone in two months. “There are people that beat the odds and they’ve had clear scans for three years and they’re doing fine and back to

Photo by Carolyn Lange

Former Willmar High School English teacher Kelly Welch, left, embraces former student Kelly Fosso Rodenberg, who has written a book about her journey with cancer. work and working out,” said Kelly in the Live It! interview. “There’s always those people too. And by gosh, I want to be one of them.” Kelly’s innate ability to find the positive, humorous side of life that keeps her going every day is woven through the book. “I’ve always walked in the light side and been optimistic. But especially with this, when it’s something as dark as it is, I had to find the humor and the light side,” she said. “I have no problem poking fun at myself, I never have, hence the title of the book,” she said with a laugh. “I knew that if I was going to get through this successfully at all, it had to be with a great attitude. That’s the best medicine in the world as far as I’m concerned.” Kelly will have an MRI every six weeks for the rest of her life to make sure the tumor has not grown. Her journey during the last year has helped give her a new perspective on life. “What I thought was really important before probably isn’t, and things I sometimes take for granted I really shouldn’t. I’ve become abundantly more aware of precious, precious time,” she writes in the closing chapters of her book. “The absolute best advice I’ve been able to give myself is to lighten up, graciously extend olive branches whenever and wherever needed, and simply smile at the things I cannot change.” It’s a message Kelly said she hopes people can incorporate into their lives, before they end up writing their own book that they never intended to write. Carolyn Lange is a features writer for Live it! Magazine, and a reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar.

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Q&A MANEUVERING THROUGH LIFE WITH CANCER

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By Carolyn Lange clange@wctrib.com

isa McBrian is a care coordinator at the Carris Health Cancer Center in Willmar, where she coordinates patient care through their course of cancer treatments. With a master of arts as a clinical nurse specialist and a bachelor of science in nursing, Lisa previously worked as a care manager at Rice Memorial Hospital and has been a

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care coordinator at the cancer center since 2014. Her work puts her in direct contact with people as they maneuver through a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Her personal experience of serving as caretaker to her husband and mother before their deaths gives her the extra depth of compassion for the patients she works with. Lisa shares her professional advice with Live It! readers who may be touched in some way with cancer or another serious illness.


There’s never a good time to receive a diagnosis for a serious illness, but what are the extra challenges – emotionally, spiritually and physically – when the diagnosis is delivered during a time when people are planning holiday get-togethers and sending Christmas cards? Lisa: When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, the life of that person and their family is turned upside down. Their life is consumed with tests, physician appointments and difficult conversations. This is stressful any time but when it happens during the holiday season, it can be extra stressful. The physical burden of appointments can lessen the amount of energy someone has for holiday activities. The emotions that go along with these situations add to what can already be an emotional holiday time filled with memories and traditions. There are also many questions that come up – do I tell family and friends about the diagnosis now or wait until after the holiday? If I wait to tell them, how do I best keep this secret? How do I act “normal” with all that is happening? What are some tips and tools for handling those challenges? Lisa: The best thing to do is accept this is not going to be a normal holiday. Accepting this gives permission to let go of some of the things normally done. Make a list of traditions normally done and prioritize which ones are most important. Then decide how many of the traditions can be realistically carried out based on time and energy. It is important to set the expectation that plans may change last minute because of unexpected barriers (i.e. not feeling well, unexpected appointments, etc.). The best piece of advice is not to overdo it as recovery time is often longer when our bodies are stressed. For women, who typically plan and carry out holiday events, how important is it – and how difficult is it – to put themselves first when dealing with illness and treatments, especially if they have children and grandchildren counting on them? Lisa: There needs to be a balance. Mental health is just as important as physical health and being able to partake in activities that bring joy and some normalcy is very important. It is important for women to listen to their bodies and not overdo it. When fatigue sets in, rest is needed. When energy levels are adequate, decide what activities there is energy for and do them. Surgery and treatments for cancer and chronic illnesses can make it physically difficult to eat, shop, bake and participate in holiday events. What steps can be taken to protect yourself and yet be connected with the holiday spirit? Lisa: It is important to not let the illness take over all aspects of life when possible. Have a candid conversation with the physician treating the illness regarding the importance of the holidays. In some instances, dates for surgery and/or treatments may be changed or delayed so the holiday time can be better enjoyed. If surgery or treatments have to happen on the set schedule, partake in any activities you have energy for. Each day will be different and being able to go with the flow is key.

What advice do you have for families when it’s a child that is gravely ill and going through treatment during the holidays? Lisa: Children do best in an environment that is as normal as possible. Depending on the age of the child, there may be activities, foods, traditions they associate with a “normal” holiday. When possible, make those activities, foods, traditions happen as they can provide great comfort. If the child is hospitalized over the holiday, consult with hospital staff to see what things would be allowed to happen in the hospital. Facilities that treat children often have staff that specialize in helping kids adapt to these situations. What tips do you have for family members and friends who serve as caregivers and may also be stressed during the holidays while providing care? Lisa: Self-care is extremely important. When bodies are stressed and get worn down, illness can quickly set in. Getting adequate rest, eating nutritious meals and drinking enough non-alcoholic fluids can help keep bodies healthy and strong. It is also important for the caregiver to have someone to talk to and share feelings, concerns and frustrations. This assists with keeping healthy mentally. This can be done with a friend, family member, pastor or anyone they have a trusting relationship with. People are quick to say “tell me what I can do to help.” What are some things that would be truly helpful? Lisa: In most cases, people are not going to ask for help. Instead of telling them to call when they need something, tell them what you would like to do and give them options to choose from. Here are some examples: “I would like to bring you a meal. Would Monday or Thursday next week work better for you?” “I would like to give you a ride to your treatment on Tuesday. What time should I pick you up?” In most cases, offers like this will be accepted and appreciated.

When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, the life of that person and their family is turned upside down.

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Christmas

in a barn A Christmas Day church service in a barn is tradition for many families By Carolyn Lange clange@wctrib.com Photography by Erica Dischino edischino@wctrib.com

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simple barn that’s home to a flock of sheep and a collection of cats, that has spider webs on the walls and a thick layer of straw on the floor becomes a holy setting one day a year. No matter the weather, at 9:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, kids dressed as shepherds, wisemen and angels stand beside a wooden manger holding a real baby as a congregation of nearly 150 people sing carols and the pastor delivers a homily. For more than 20 years the Svea Lutheran Church has held its only Christmas Day service inside a barn at the Dale and Deb Tonsfeldt farm, located just a half-mile down the road from the church. The unique live Nativity service is a tradition for families, including many that aren’t members. “A lot of people say this is what makes their Christmas – to come here for Christmas in the barn,” said Deb Tonsfeldt. “It just gives you such a good feeling. It’s like you were there when Jesus was born.” Even when the temperature is below zero and snow is blowing, the barn is packed. Deb said people have told her the service in the barn comes before getting together with their family on Christmas Day and that they “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” “We fill the barn up pretty good,” said Dale, whose father, Allen, built the barn in the early 1950s. Typically, several people play guitar, several solos are sung and the congregation sings carols during the service. The Nativity scene is carried out by youth – often Deb and Dale’s grandchildren and kids from the church. This year the role of baby Jesus will be filled by the couple’s

newest granddaughter, Olivia, who was born in July. Even though the scene is meant to give worshipers an idea of the conditions of Jesus’ birth, Dale has a confession. “We cheat. We have a heater in the barn, and I don’t think baby Jesus had a propane heater,” he said with a grin. The service isn’t all angels and halos. “It’s fun. It’s unpredictable. It’s very different from the high liturgical setting from the traditional Lutheran church,” said Pastor Erik Rundquist, who’s been pastor at Svea Lutheran Church for five years and leads the barn service. There are “kittens all over the place,” the sheep are “really good at stealing kids’ mittens” and it “very much smells like a barn,” he said. “A couple years ago a horse stole the program I was holding and a dog barfed right at my feet,” said Pastor Erik. “It’s very earthy.” But the Nativity scene, the music and sharing the bread and wine during communion – which is followed by coffee and cookies served in the barn after the service – combines to create a special experience. “There is a presence of joy and excitement of the gift we’re reminded of at Christmas time,” said Pastor Erik. “There’s much to be said about the spirit of Christmas that’s shared.” “With the kids and pastor here and we’re singing religious songs and having a real service, it does feel like a holy place,” said Deb. “But only on that day,” she said. “When I come to help with the sheep when they’re lambing, then it feels like a barn.”

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Advertising Supplement

! t e Y r a e Y t s Be

20 20 RESOLUTIONS A Special Supplement to

Enjoy more time outdoors (even when it’s cold)

BECOME A BETTER YOU Tips to beat your bad habits

Simple ways to make more time for family

LEARN WAYS TO BEAT BAD HABITS

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he start of a new year can be a rejuvenating time when people take inventory of their lives and make positive changes. In a quest for personal growth, many people resolve to reduce or eliminate bad habits. Habits are one of the ways in which the brain establishes patterns for neurons to follow. Habits help people work on autopilot some of the time, which can save time and energy, according to Medium.com, an information site educating the public on a wide array of timely topics. Good habits, like showing up to work on time, are worth maintaining. But bad habits can be problematic and potentially unhealthy. Strategies to break bad habits might work for some but not for others. Perseverance is essential to kicking bad habits, and the following are some additional tips that can help people as they try to ditch certain behaviors once and for all. • Recognize the habit. • Break the pattern by offering a new one. • Penalize yourself within reason. • Reward yourself for beating habits. • Learn your triggers and avoid them. Breaking bad habits is challenging, but it can happen with focus and dedication.

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SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE MORE TIME FOR FAMILY

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or the majority of working professionals, finding quality time to spend with loved ones can be a delicate balancing act. But working parents do not have to wait until retirement to enjoy being in the company of their families. With some fine tuning, anyone can find ways to spend more time with their children, spouse, extended families and friends. • Eat dinner together every night. • Switch work hours. • Put it on the calendar. • Work together. • Enjoy family media. Family time is something that takes work, but making it a priority can offer real benefits.

ENJOY MORE TIME OUTDOORS

(EVEN WHEN IT’S COLD)

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he amount of time people spend outdoors has dramatically decreased, as the Environmental Protection Agency now reports the average American spends 87 percent of his or her time in a residence, school building or workplace. Being outside is linked to better moods, more physical activity and less exposure to contaminants (concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher indoors). Also, people who spend time outside may not come into contact with surface

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5 WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS DEBUNKED

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osing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution every year. Roughly 50 percent of people age 20 and older acknowledge they tried to lose weight over the past 12 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Successful weight loss requires hard work and patience. Still, many myths abound, and people may think there are quick fixes to shedding a few extra pounds. Debunking some of those myths can help people adopt more realistic weight loss strategies. • Myth #1: Avoid carbs to lose weight. • Myth #2: You can target specific fat loss. • Myth #3: Eating fat makes you fat. • Myth #4: Crash diets will make weight fall off. • Myth #5: Tons of exercise will make the pounds disappear. Research has repeatedly indicated that exercise can help boost weight loss. However, the real way to shed pounds is primarily linked to diet. According to Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic,

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weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. People see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart. If losing weight is your New Year’s resolution, get the facts before adopting a weight loss regimen.

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Resolutions

Advertising Supplement

In 2020 I resolve to:

Christie Steffel, Marketing Manager csteffel@wctrib.com | 320-214-4317 Like most, the end of the year is a time I reflect on the good, and maybe not so pleasant, things that have occurred this past year. Like many, I always find myself vowing to lose weight, exercise more, spend more time with family and friends, save money and the list goes on and on. As a wife, mom, manager, friend and family member I find myself always wishing and hoping there was more time in the day and wishing I had more patience. Every night when I go to bed and every morning I wake up, I find myself scheduling out my day, and the same thought crosses my mind – if only there were more hours in the day. More time to spend with my husband and kids, more time to meet that deadline at work, clean the house and get a workout in and have time to spend with family and friends. We all struggle at times with money, weight, and so on. For me it boils down to TIME and patience. My excuse has always been “I just don’t have time” and then my patience runs thin or close to nothing. I want everything to happen at once, I want all the ideas I have to happen, which in return ends up with me being impatient and results in loss of time. This year I am going to try and be better about how I use my time, prioritize what is really important and focus on being more patient. I will try and find a better balance between work and home, try and find a better way to be more patient instead of feeling like I have to rush through this precious thing called life. The truth is, there is time – it’s just the way you use your time. This year, my resolution is better use of my time and being more patient. Putting down my cellphone, signing out of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, turning off the TV, and giving the time back to myself, husband, children, family, friends and my staff.

Allyson Wittman Marketing Consultant awittman@wctrib.com 320-214-4314 Being a full-time accounting student and a full-time marketing consultant at the Tribune, time management is at the top of my New Year’s Resolutions list. Trying to balance school work, my job, and time with friends & family has been nothing short of a challenge. For the upcoming year, I want to get better at prioritizing rather than procrastinating. My challenge is to spend the week getting work and school work done and on the weekends be able to relax and hang out with friends and family.

Rhea Yeadon Marketing Consultant ryeadon@wctrib.com 320-214-4375

Lu Fransen Marketing Consultant lfransen@wctrib.com 320-214-4398 • Ask myself every time I get upset “if I were to die tomorrow was it worth being upset over?”

• Make what I say be kind & helpful so that my words will be good to others who hear them • Remember to thank God every day even when I don’t want to • And finally, forget about dancing like no one is watching. I’m going to dance like a toddler. They don’t even care if there’s music. Suzanne Kuehnast Marketing Consultant skuehnast@wctrib.com 320-214-4324 Coming into the New Year, a lot of things come to mind. Ways I can do better for myself and for others. Being a mother is my greatest blessing I have ever been given. This New Year I want to spend more time with family, creating those memories that will last a lifetime. Growing up, my family did so many things together and I cherish those moments, I want that for my son. I want him growing up having those precious memories to look back on. This year I want to take a few small vacations with my son and start these family traditions that I grew up on. Cherishing those small moments with him that mean everything. When I think of Resolutions for myself personally, I think of health and fitness & my career. Being a competitive cyclist, I am aiming high this year with my personal goals for my health and fitness, and doing whatever I can to conquer those goals, and doing it in the most healthy and positive way possible. Doing the best I can at my job and not being afraid to go above and beyond what I am capable of. Not letting anything hold me back, and always staying positive. This year is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to experience everything that is coming.

New Year’s Day is one of my most favorite days of the year. It gives me a chance to set some new goals and gives me that momentum to get started. I have recently discovered that I have developed a BAD habit of talking myself out of things. Fears of rejection, the unknown and failure are some of the contributing factors that have stopped me from doing the things I know would help me grow and succeed. This year I will challenge myself by stepping outside of my comfort zone and begin “taking chances.” When I am being faced with something new and uncertain, I will put myself into action instead of pondering long enough to talk myself out of it. I am super excited to see how this one little change will impact my life in all aspects. Cheers to a New Year!!

Angie Richardson Marketing Consultant arichardson@wctrib.com 320-214-4328 My New Year Resolution for 2020 is to relax and enjoy life with my boys. We so often get caught up in everything in our day-to-day lives that time can slip away. Being a single mom of twin boys, I find this happening because I get too busy with everything. I need to realize it is OK to let the laundry wait, the dishes wait or any other little task, if that means spending more quality time with the kids. I need to put the phone down, get them off of their tablets, and start making more quality time for us. We are going to make the year 2020 for memories and enjoy every day – as they are not guaranteed! Have a Great Year!


MONEY MATTERS GIVE THE GIFT OF A QCD THIS HOLIDAY SEASON By Craig Popp, CFP

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he generosity of Americans is amazing. Millions give to the less fortunate during the holiday season. Are you age 70½ or older and subject to required minimum distributions from your IRA? Do you have charitable intentions? Consider the use of a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) this holiday season. A QCD is a transfer from your IRA to a qualified charity. QCDs can be counted toward satisfying your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year. While many IRAs are eligible for QCDs – traditional, rollover, inherited, SEP (inactive plans only), and SIMPLE (inactive plans only) – rules do apply: You must be 70½ or older to be eligible to make a QCD. The maximum annual amount that can qualify for a QCD is $100,000. However, if you file taxes jointly, your spouse can also make a QCD from their IRA within the same tax year for up to $100,000. The charitable entity must receive the donation by December 31 to ensure credit to the proper year (I interpret this as the check should be cashed by this date).

• • •

Please note that the charity must be a 501(c)(3) organization to be eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Some charities that do not qualify for QCDs are: Private foundations. Supporting organizations: i.e., charities carrying out exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities. Donor-advised funds, which public charities manage on behalf of organizations, families, or individuals.

• • •

One of the beautiful things about the QCD strategy is that it may benefit all taxpayers. Said otherwise, low-, middle- and high-income taxpayers could utilize the strategy. QCDs may affect the impact of certain tax credits and deductions more specific to your situation. Examples include: Reduce your modified adjusted gross income to avoid higher Medicare premiums. Tax filers with meaningful medical or dental expenses can use the QCD to increase their medical deduction.

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Utilize the QCD to lower adjusted gross income below levels that can reduce the amount of investment income

subject to the 3.8 percent Medicare tax. Tax filers who receive Social Security and have limited other income sources can use the QCD to reduce or eliminate the amount of Social Security subject to taxation.

• Those who are constrained on the size of their charitable deduction can use the QCD to realize a larger tax benefit from charitable giving. Properly accounting for your QCD is important when filing your tax return. Your 1099-R form will show the distributed amount from your IRA for the calendar year – thus offering no evidence to your accountant that you completed a QCD. Therefore, keeping detailed records of your QCDs is extremely important. Things don’t get much clearer when indicating the QCD on IRS Form 1040 – which is why I advocate for the help of a tax professional. Below are the instructions from the IRS:

If all or part of the distribution is a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), enter the total distribution on line 4a.

• If the total amount distributed is a QCD, enter -0- on line

4b. If only part of the distribution is a QCD, enter the part that is not a QCD on line 4b.

• Enter “QCD” next to line 4b.

A QCD is only one of several approaches for those who are charitably inclined. Importantly, your amount of charitable giving is a personal decision that should not be determined or driven by potential tax savings. The intent here is to expand awareness on what the QCD is, how it works and how you might benefit from its use. Work with your accountant and financial adviser to take a comprehensive look at your situation in the context of your overall financial situation. Craig Popp, CFA, is a financial adviser at the locallyowned, independent office of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC at 115 East Litchfield Ave, Suite 102, Willmar, MN 56201. Popp also authors The Cognitive Bias – a blog covering the topics of personal finance, wealth management, and investing. He can be contacted at 320-235-1416. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Material prepared by Raymond James as a resource for its financial advisers. You may find it helpful to consult a special needs attorney as well as talk with your financial advisor about working with Raymond James Trust to help you and your family provide the best care for your loved one with a disability or special needs.


HEALTH & FITNESS MAINTAINING FITNESS THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAYS By Amber Silva

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hh, the holidays. The wonderful bundle of fun foods, joyful parties and many activities all bunched into about one month. It is a time to get together and celebrate, but also provides ample excuses for people to not exercise. Throughout my wellness career, I have heard dozens of excuses as to why people do not exercise during the holidays. Yes, I do believe life gets busy during this season but it also comes down to priorities and what you want to set as yours. Yes! I want to make exercise a priority for me during the holidays, but how? First things first, determine why you want to make exercise a priority. If we have a why behind our actions that usually drives us more than if we do not. When I work with people I like them to focus on a meaningful why. Is it so you can get down and up easily from the floor when playing with your children or grandchildren, or is it to control a chronic illness such as diabetes? Whatever it is, make it meaningful and not superficial, that way you are more likely to sustain your goal. Secondly, you will want to find an activity you enjoy doing for exercise. For some people, it may be running. For others, it may be doing a yoga video on YouTube in their living room. Find your niche and go with it. Doing an exercise routine you enjoy will allow you to stick with it because you will look forward to it. Thirdly, find something or someone to hold you accountable. For many years I ran a New Holiday Habits Challenge at Rice Hospital that held people accountable to stay active

during the holidays. Each week a prize was given to a winner from a drawing of those who met their goal for the week. I received a lot of positive feedback from those who participated saying the challenge really pushed them to keep up with things. Find yourself a challenge group on social media or connect with family and friends to hold each other accountable. Finally, have fun! Exercise is supposed to be a fun activity. Exercise can be broken up into 10-minute bouts throughout the day. So, if you are shooting for 30 minutes of exercise but do not have a consecutive 30 minutes available or find 30 minutes of consecutive exercise to be burdensome, you could break it up into three 10-minute bouts in the day. Exercise can also be incorporated into your daily routine by parking further away in the parking lot, getting up and moving during commercials, doing squats while brushing your teeth, or walking the halls at work during your 15-minute break. Remember, exercise can be done anywhere. You can attend a gym, exercise outside or do workouts at home. There are many free exercise videos on YouTube, just be sure you are following reputable trainers like Leslie Sansone, Denise Austin, Popsugar Fitness or Fitness Blender. There are many free apps to download as well: 7-Minute Workout, Nike Training Club or Daily Workouts are a few I use. Exercise may be that outlet you need this holiday season, so do not be afraid to find your why and start something. Amber Chevalier Silva is the ReYou Wellness Program coordinator and Wellness Care Guide at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

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Do - it-yourself PRESENTS VS. PRESENCE By Lu Fransen

Be PRESENT instead of giving PRESENTS. This statement is the motto many people live by as they approach the holiday gift-giving season, and for year-round giving. Most of us – including kids – have too many “things.” Older adults don’t want anymore “things.” They are at the stage of downsizing. So it can be difficult to give a gift that has meaning and shows how much we care for each other. This is where “being present” comes in. What can we do with – or for – that person? The possibilities are only limited by your capabilities and desire to go that extra step with your time. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Children & Young Adults

• • •

The first step is to really THINK about the person:

• What are their interests? • What can you do for them that would make their

life easier?

• What activities can you do together that would put a smile on their face?

• What could you do with them that they can’t do on their own?

Plan a special day doing things they like to do: museums, playgrounds, swimming, libraries, baking, crafting, reading, movies, sledding, looking for birds, going on a nature hunt, throwing a football, bike riding, painting nails, local sporting events. The point is to just spend TIME with and LISTEN to them. Take them to fun local events that parents don’t always have time to take them to. Use their art or baking skills to make something special for other people to enjoy, like grandparents or nursing home residents. Having them do something nice for others also teaches compassion. Teach them how to do something you are good at and enjoy doing, such as baking, cooking, bowling, playing a musical instrument, sewing, woodworking, gardening, sports. Make sure you attend events for any activities they are in, like band, softball, choir and such. Being in the audience and cheering them on shows how important they are to you. Plan a game night once a month and get the whole family involved.

Next, come up with your plan for each person. IDEA: Make a calendar of activities that schedules specific events you will do with them for a whole year. IDEA: Make a coupon book they can redeem when they want to do an activity with you. Here a few ideas to get your started. Let your creativity begin!

Making su

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Parents & Grandparents

• • • •

• •

Take over a chore they don’t want to do or can’t do anymore. Yardwork, housecleaning, window washing, grocery shopping, small home repair projects, painting, moving furniture around. Go on a drive to see pretty sights; stop at a park and go for a walk. If there is an old family home take them for a drive to see it again. Take them to visit relatives or old friends. Plan a nice lunch out with everyone, or have them over to your house and treat them to their favorite foods. Plan a visit with them and bring a lunch. Just spend time and talk. Look through old photo albums. Watch their favorite TV show with them. Work on a craft they like to do. It’s the time together that counts. Take them to a local theater performance or choir concert. Take them out to eat at a restaurant if it’s hard for them to get out on their own. Make a monthly date! Homemade gifts from your children & grandchildren are such a special gift to give them!

Spouses

• Take over a household job that they usually do but • •

you know they dislike doing. Plan a get-away to a place they love or go do something they really enjoy, even if it’s not your thing! Help each other set up a special place that is your go-to area to relax. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even a separate room. It could be a corner in which you know to let each other alone to relax when in that area.

The main point with whatever you come up with is that you’ve thought about that person and how you can use your time and skills to show how much they mean to you. Be PRESENT instead of giving PRESENTS.

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Visiting the old fa

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Lu follows in her mother’s footsteps of unwinding and relaxing by crafting and creating. Creativity is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

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Top it! By Anne Polta

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hether you’re entertaining or just in search of a snack, it doesn’t get easier than dips, spreads and toppings. They can be hot or cold, elaborate or simple, tangy or hearty

Avocado and crab dip This rich and tangy dip is a great addition year round to the appetizer buffet. Pair with pita chips or crackers. Low-fat cream cheese and/or sour cream can be substituted to cut down on the fat and calorie content. 1 to 2 avocados, mashed 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons finely grated onion 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 7½-ounce can crabmeat, drained and flaked Blend lemon juice, onion and Worcestershire sauce into mashed avocado. Gently stir in cream cheese, sour cream and salt. Add crabmeat and gently stir again until thoroughly combined. Yield: 2 cups

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Spread the creativity at the holiday party or even sweet. And dips and spreads are endlessly versatile with all kinds of go-withs, from basic chips and crackers to fancier variety breads. Bring out the spreads for your holiday get-together (or any time of the year) and let your guests dive in. The only limits are your time and ingenuity.

Oven-roasted feta cheese

For a different take on traditional cheese and crackers, try this easy oven-baked version bursting with Mediterranean flavor. If you have access to thyme honey, this appetizer is a great way to showcase it. 1 8­-ounce slab Greek feta, blotted dry 2 tablespoons extra­virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon honey Freshly ground black pepper Greek-­style pita bread, toasted and cut into wedges Tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables (optional) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a small oven-­to-­table dish or a small ovenproof saute pan with aluminum foil. Place the feta in the dish and pour the olive oil over. Bake until the cheese is soft and springy to the touch but not melted, about 8 minutes. Preheat the broiler. Heat the honey in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat until it starts to liquify. Using a pastry brush, coat the surface of the cheese with honey. Broil until the top of the cheese browns and just starts to bubble. Season to taste with black pepper. Lift the aluminum foil out of the baking dish and slide the hot cheese onto a serving plate. Serve immediately with pita wedges and, if desired, sliced tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables. Yield: 1 cup


Top inspirations

Hot sausage dip

This hot and hearty dip brings the flavors of beef stroganoff to the appetizer table. Serve with sturdy chips or rye crackers. 1 pound bulk hot pork sausage ½ cup finely chopped onion ½ pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup sour cream 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon paprika In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, crumbling with a fork, until well browned. Remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain. Add onion and mushrooms to fat in skillet and cook briefly, stirring frequently, until onion begins to soften and turn golden. Drain fat and return sausage to skillet. In a small bowl, gradually whisk flour into sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and whisk again until well blended. Add to sausage mixture in skillet and cook over moderate heat until sauce thickens and heats through. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 cups

Get creative with dips, spreads and toppings – the combinations of flavor and texture are endless. Tops: Thin slices of white cheddar cheese and a small spoonful of pepper jelly Soft goat cheese with a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper Almond butter with a spoonful of fig preserves or apple butter spread on top A thin layer of cream cheese topped with a slice of fresh apple or pear Bleu cheese and chopped toasted walnuts Spreads: Olive tapenade Pesto Herb or nut butters Chutney Fruit preserves Crackers: Whole-grain, rye or variety crackers Flatbread Pita bread or pita chips Breadsticks Vegetable chips Toasted slices of baguette or peasant bread Sliced cranberry, blueberry or other sweet fruit breads

Follow Anne Polta on Twitter at @AnnePolta

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Read it!

Happy Holidays from the Willmar Public Library By Syrena Maranell

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f you are looking for some holiday inspiration, DIY projects, recipes or entertainment, stop in today and see what your library has to offer. In addition to the items available for checkout, bring your friends and enjoy one of these upcoming programs:

Adult DIY Holiday Gifts 10 a.m. Saturday, December 7 Handmade gifts are always special, so join us and wow your friends and family this holiday season. A variety of crafts including alcohol ink, stamped jewelry, button art, string art and stenciled rugs will be provided for you to try out (one project per person, as supplies last). Heck, we’ll even provide some paper for wrapping! No cost and no registration necessary.

Syrena Maranell is the Adult Services Librarian at the Willmar Public Library. For more information on these audiobooks, swing by the Willmar Public Library. The librarians are there to help you find your new favorite author. Check out the library’s blog at turningpages.areavoices.

Teen Murder Mystery Party Noon Saturday, December 21 *Register at https://www.willmarpubliclibrary.org/ teen-services/ You’ve been invited to Chris Cringle’s famous Ugly Sweater Party. Everything is jolly until someone is murdered. It’s up to you and the other guests to solve the murder. Food & drink, games, and crafts also provided.

Giving Tree Looking for a way to give back to the Willmar Public Library this holiday season? Each year the library staff pull together a wish list of items for the library. In the past this has mostly included books and movies, but has expanded to games and other items of need. There are options for all ages: children, teens, and adults. These hand-picked items go on the Giving Tree which is on display at the library from Thanksgiving time until the new year. Just pick an item from the tree and purchase the item or donate money for the library to purchase it. This is a simple way to help the library, and we will even place your name or an “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” bookplate in the item if you wish.

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 Early Childhood Education  Youth Programs  Adult Enrichment  Special Needs  Adult Basic Education  Facility Scheduling  Aquatics  Wellness  And Much More

Discover something just for you! Willmar Community Education 1234 Kandiyohi Avenue SW | Willmar, MN 56201 320-231-8490 www.willmar.k12.mn.us/communityed


Style it! Scarves for the season By Erica Dischino edischino@wctrib.com

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carves are extremely versatile. With the holiday season in full swing, looking stylish in the cold weather can be difficult. That’s when scarves come into play! Scarves are the perfect accessory in the fall and winter seasons. They are a great complement to a warm sweater or an elegant dress. Here’s how to pick the best scarf for your upcoming holiday get-together:

Keeping warm From ice skating to snowman building, lots of holiday activities call for clothing that keeps you warm. Scarves made with thicker materials will make sure you’re nice and toasty. Pick up a pair of gloves to match and you’ll be ready for holiday fun in style.

A shawl affair Worried about your shoulders being cold when wearing your favorite cocktail dress for that work party? Pair it with a silk scarf to wear as a shawl to keep your look refined yet still dressy.

Switch it up Scarves just don’t have to go one way around your neck. There are many ways to tie it in a knot, drape around your shoulders or even wear as a belt. For inspiration, check out Pinterest for new ways to wear the same scarf.

Two is better than one Pair two lightweight scarves for a fun twist. Wrap them together around your neck or shoulders to add dimension. Combine scarves with complementary patterns and colors for a beautiful textured look.

No fuss Sometimes, fussing with a scarf is a big turn off. Look for cowl scarf styles, or infinity scarves so putting it on is a onestep process. They are super warm and look great with your favorite winter coat or sweater.

Color block Do you prefer simple, easy styles that still look chic? Scarves are a great way to break up an outfit without going overboard with accessories. Look for a scarf with a singular color and no patterns. Pair it with an all black outfit or neutral colors for a streamlined look.

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Check it!Out! What’s happenin’? DECEMBER 2019 - JANUARY 2020

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ Dec. 6-8, 12-15 Willmar, Dec. 6-7, 12-14 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m., The Barn Theatre; The Barn Theatre presents the comedy “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”; adults $20, ages 18 and younger $10; 320-235-9500 or thebarntheatre.com. Lucia Day Dec. 7 Willmar, 9 to 11 a.m., Bethel Lutheran Church, 411 Becker Ave. S.W.; Swedish candlelight ceremony at 9 a.m. followed by coffee and music; holiday baked goods for sale. Christmas at Sperry House Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28 Willmar, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sperry House, part of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society, west of the museum on North Business Highway 71; “Christmas at Sperry House” in the partially restored 1893 home; the home is decorated for Christmas and the tree displays a variety of 1800s (Victorian) ornaments; adults $3, kids 12 and under free.

Holiday Express 18-Wheeler Dec. 12-14 Area towns, the Holiday Express 18-Wheeler presented by the Kandiyohi Men’s Club and the Atwater Chamber will make stops over three days as follows: Dec. 12, 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Lillian Fire Hall, 6:15 p.m. at the Blomkest Fire Hall, 7:15 p.m. at the Raymond Community Center and 8:15 p.m. at the Pennock Community Center; Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m. at the Mug Shots parking lot in Cosmos, 7 p.m. in front of Kinsella Chiropractic in Litchfield, 7:45 p.m. at the Grove City Fire Hall and 8:15 p.m. at the Atwater Community Center; Dec. 14, 5:15 p.m. at the Lake Region Bank in Sunburg, 6 p.m. on First Avenue Southeast in New London, 6:45 p.m. at the Green Lake Mall in Spicer, 7:30 p.m. at the Kandiyohi Civic Center and 8:15 p.m.at the YMCA in Willmar.

Night of Music Dec. 12-15 Willmar, Dec. 12-14 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 14-15 at 3 p.m., Assembly of God Church, 3821 Abbott Drive S.E.; 54th annual Night of Music, “The Christmas Miracle Toyland at the Museum of Jonathon Toomey”; free Dec. 6-28 tickets available at the church; Willmar, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. freewill donation. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Kandiyohi County Historical Society Museum, 610 Business Highway 71 N.E.; “Toyland at the Museum”; adults $3, kids 12 and under are free.

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Nutcracker Ballet Dec. 15 Dawson, 3 p.m., Memorial Auditorium; the DawsonBoyd Arts Association presents Continental Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”; adults $15, students $5, call 320-312-2311 or at the door. Christmas Star show Dec. 14, 21-22, 24 Marshall, Dec. 15 and 21 at 7 p.m., Dec. 22 and 24 at 2 p.m., Southwest Minnesota State University planetarium, SM 108; “Star of Wonder” show; $5, www.smsu.edu/plantarium. Link Christmas Concert Dec. 15 Spicer, 3 p.m., Faith Lutheran Church; church choirs present “God Came Near”; donations to the Link.

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The Nutcracker Dec. 22 Glenwood, 3 p.m., Central Square; the Continental Ballet Company presents “The Nutcracker”; $35 at the door, children under 12 are free with a paid adult; call 320-634-0400. Waylon, Willie and Cash Dec. 28 Granite Falls, 3 and 7 p.m., Prairie’s Edge Casino; hit songs featuring the music of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash; tickets at www. prairiesedgecasino.com or the casino box office.

Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra Jan. 12 Willmar, 3 p.m., WEAC; winter concert “Beethoven Birthday Bash” with Peter McGuire on violin; adults $12, ages 0-18 admitted free with adult; season tickets available.

James Sewell Ballet Jan. 19 Dawson, 5 p.m., Memorial Auditorium; the Dawson-Boyd Arts Association presents the James Sewell Ballet’s 30th anniversary tour; adults $15, students $5, call 320-312-2311, or at the door.

Velvet Brass Band Jan. 19 Glenwood, 3 to 7 p.m., Lakeside Ballroom; the Lakeside Dance Club presents the Velvet Brass; basic dance lessons at 2 p.m.; $10 per person, $5 ages 17-30, season membership available; no jeans, lakesideballroom.org.

Chris Thile Jan. 28 St. Joseph, 7:30 p.m., Escher Auditorium at the College of Saint Benedict; the host of Minnesota Public Radio’s “Live from Here” is a Grammywinning mandolin virtuoso, composer and vocalist; adults $38, students $15, call 320363-5777 or online at www. csbsju.edu/wow

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Spir its!

Reach out, before the years fly by By Ron Skjong

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t had been years – decades – since Charlie Brown had seen many of his childhood friends. Every year, he would write a quick note in their Christmas card and send it to them without thinking too much about it. For some reason, this year was different. Suddenly, it seemed, the years had flown by without his noticing and this year he felt the passing of a friend and of time. This year had to be noticed and embraced. What were Peppermint Patty and Pig Pen doing now? Did Schroeder continue his passionate piano playing? He wondered if Linus still carried a blanket of some sort. Did Lucy become a psychiatrist? He knew where his sister, Sally, was and what she was doing. He knew where Snoopy was and that was the cause of his feeling something different this year. During their brief time together, Charlie Brown and his friends had formed bonds forged in the fires of anger, affection, common experiences, narratives and, most of all, love and loyalty. Many of those bonds made him who he was today – a somewhat innocent and a deeply caring person. He owed his friends more than just a card with a quick note in it. He knew some of his friends had completed their college education, some had gone right into the workforce and some had used a technical school to prepare themselves for life. In other words, they were now all young adults finding their way through the mazes and hazes of real life. The one thing that remained the same was they always stayed in contact with each other. But it had been many years since they had seen each other. This year was going to be different. He committed himself to countering the quick passage of time and to do so with a gift. Charlie Brown enjoyed a glass of Redbreast 12-year-old Irish Whiskey and, as he poured himself a splash of it, he thought about the idea of a gift for all of them. The gift he was thinking about was one for himself and, hopefully (remember, this is Charlie Brown we are talking

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about and he still has a bit of an insecurity complex), a gift all of his friends would embrace. He would visit each of his old friends this holiday season and bring them a gift of a beverage. Ah, but what kind of beverage would each of them like to drink today? He began to imagine: His sister, Sally, always reminded him of a bottle of wine from Glacial Ridge Winery. It was a bottle of La Crescent named Sippin’ From A Slipper. It has a nice pear and citrus taste and aroma and is a sweet white wine that is lovable but with a bit of an edge. Just like his sister – lovable with an edge. Dear old friend, Linus. What kind of blanket are you carrying today? He was always a believer and, as Charlie Brown thought back to that day at the Christmas program practice, a gifted storyteller. He was true like Foxhole Brewhouse’s Foxme IPA. Linus was always noticeable just like the exciting hop notes in this IPA with its earthy and obvious citrus flavors. The soothing copper color of the brew was like Linus telling a soothing story. Schroeder brought to mind a bottle of Simply Naked unoaked Chardonnay. Like Schroeder was dedicated to purity, this wine is a pure example of a basic and tasty Chardonnay – full of green apple and melon tastes. And, then there’s Lucy. A big pain in the rear sometimes but she always seemed to be trying to help in weird ways. She was strong and sassy just like Hinterland Vineyard’s Marquette Reserve. By now, Lucy may have aged a bit and mellowed – just like this wine is barrel aged and becomes mellower. Charlie Brown hoped she hadn’t changed too much – she wouldn’t be Lucy if that happened. Looking across the room at an empty dog dish, Charlie Brown raised his glass of Redbreast Irish Whiskey to the memory of his dear, dear friend. He wondered if Snoopy was still fighting as the World War One flying ace and if he had finally found comfort in his new doghouse in the sky. The difference this year was the absence of Snoopy. Yes, we all are Charlie Brown. I wish it was possible to share a glass of wine with each of you but that’s not realistic. So, let me simply and sincerely give each of you this wish: Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! Cheers!

Ron Skjong writes primarily about the wonderful world of wine but likes to explore various spirits and beers, too. He is married and has four grown children. While stationed in Germany, he was introduced to German wines and from that introduction, a lifelong pursuit developed to find that perfect bottle of wine.


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Profile for West Central Tribune

December 2019/January 2020 issue of Live it! Magazine  

West Central Tribune Lifestyle magazine, including a supplement on Resolutions.

December 2019/January 2020 issue of Live it! Magazine  

West Central Tribune Lifestyle magazine, including a supplement on Resolutions.

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