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Tri-County News
Kimball, Minnesota
December 23, 2010     Tri-County News
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December 23, 2010

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Pa00e 2 .... Opinion The lost arts of writing, listenin8 What is most used these days to substitute for writing letters&apos; is e-mail. But even that is being replaced by Facebook and its even more insidious cousin Twitter. Thanks to Facebook, you can learn all you'd ever care to know about someone in about 35 sec- onds: their work, education, and family. You can even glimpse their entire life in photos, if you're will- ing to spend the extra two minutes or so. In Facebook posts and chats, everything is condensed to curt questions and answers, often with letters and numbers used in place of words. And it's immediate. "Whatcha doin' tonight? .... mov- ies. wanna come?" "OK B there in 20." This is nora conversation. Twitter is even worse. You're limited to 144 characters, and it's one-way only. You telling every- one, very succinctly, what you're up to. The plan, of course, is that there's someone "following" your "tweets" who actually cares what you're up to. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not against the technology or social media. In truth, it's all just an evolution of the original social media: cavemen gathered around a fire sharing hunting stories. It's just that in the whir of instantaneous communication, the communicating part is often left hanging somewhere. Over the coming days you may find yourself with groups of friends and family. I hallenge you to actually communicate with them. Listen and learn from them. Don't think about online friends looking for you, or what brilliant posts they've left for you. At least pretend that those who are physically in the same room with you are truly important. Ask questions, and listen. You might truly be surprised at what you "learn. (Whether you share what you learn on Facebook is your basiness, okay?) Here's wishing you a very Merry (and in-person) Christmas, and a Happy (and sometimes analog) NewYeaH After writing the story (on page 12) about penpals who have kept in touch for nearly 60 years, I real- ized how much has truly changed over these past decades. For a few years in junior high, I too had a French penpal. Our rela- tionship lasted a few years, but then died offas, no doubt, we both got involved in other teenaged pursuits. Back then, it would take hours, often days, to compose a letter and then re-write it carefully onto super-thin paper called onion- skin. International postal rates were based on weight, so onion- skin paper and envelopes saved on postage. Keep in mind that doing this in a foreign language added a whole new layer to the process: transla- tion. So, you've carefully written and re-written your letter. You carry it off to the post office to be weighed, stamped and sent on its way byAir Mail. It would take about a week to get there, where the other party would spend days or weeks care- fully crafting a reply and mailing that by Air Mail as well. And so this back-and-forth con- tinued. Over time, a great deal of time, we learned about each oth- er's families, homes, pets, friends, and schools. Because everything was learned gradually, through a series of long-distance questions and answers, it was a bit like a jig- saw puzzle to which you added a few pieces at a time. With each let- ter, the "picture" of your penpars life grew. Today, what do we have? No one really writes letters. Yes, we use our computers to print letters we've composed on the computer; then we sign them and mail them off. Rather cold and impersonal, to be honest; but that's just as many would prefer. When was the last time you saw stationery sets for sale in a store? You remember, the matching set of envelopes and paper for any personality or occasion. I'm sure it still exists, but I wouldn't even know where to start looking. (Oh, yeah, 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, for Dec. 30 issue Our office will be CLOSED Friday, Dec. 24, and Friday, Dec. 31, for the Holidays. Thursday, December 23, 2010 Tri-County News Kimb, MN Jill Pettier "Slices of Life" The tree elated The Tree come Christmas Eve. Time marched on and the tra- dition of The Tree became daunt- ing for my morn. Because of her advancing age and Alzheimer's disease, everything about The Tree grew more difficult - from deco- rating to taking the ornaments off and carefully storing them away after the holidays ended. Some might think that Others could step in and take over the respon- sibilities for The Tree. Those peo- ple never met my mom. She might allow others to help with the angel or an occasional glass ball, but the big decisions - like how to position the garlands or where to place spe- cial ornaments -were hers alone. For many people, the tradition would end here, but stubborn (and resourceful) Scandinavians do not give up easily. One Christmas a few years back, my morn deco- rated the tree for the last time. Then she got herself an enor- mous plastic bag. After the holi- days, she covered the tree with the bag and had someone move the whole shebang down to the base- ment where it sat, in storage, until the next year. We moved The Tree. (decorations and all) up and down the stairs every year after that. My sister and I joked about the peren- nially decorated pine, but our tra- dition of The Tree never wavered. I'm not sure how long my mom had Alzheimer's. She was probably aware : of the disease well before anyof us knew, so I'm guessing it was I0 years at least. The Christ- mas of 2009 was her last with The Tree - and with us. This Christmas will be differ- ent - without her. Still, our tradition continues. This year, my dad brought The Tree over to my sister's house, where they di4 their best to com- plete the decorating process in the grand style of my morn. We will celebrate around The Tree on the eve of Dec. 24. We will remember my morn and we will miss her. And we will do our best to rock Christ- mas, exactly like she'd want us to. lill Pertler is a syndicated col- umnist and author of "The Do- It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syn- dication." She's collecting fans on Facebook. Please check it out. E-mail her at <pertmn@qwesr net>; or visit her website at <http:// marketing-by-design.home.mchsi. corn>. My mom rocked Christmas. For her, the celebration encom- passed more than one day and stretched to span an entire season. Our house became a red and green tinted winter wonderland within minutes after blowing out the can- dies on our jack-o-lanterns. The holiday started- and ended - with The Tree. Artificial. This may seem counter-intuitive for a person who rocked Christmas, but froin my mom's perspective, a real tree came burdened with too many unpredictable variables. My mom's tree was, to her, perfect. It was proportionate. It was full. It was symmetric. Best of all it didn't shed needles all over the living room carpet. When I was a kid, The Tree came out of its box early fall and the ornaments soon followed. How many ornaments can you fit on one tree? My mom challenged this question every year. The tree was filled from top to bottom with store-bought glass balls, molded figurines, candy canes, paper snowflakes and handmade trin- kets brought home from school. When you thought for sure the tree was full, she'd find a spot to squeeze in another ornament - or maybe even two. At the end, came the angel. After every ornament found a branchy home, my dad lifted either my sis- ter or me onto his shoulders (we'd take turns from year to year) to place the angel atop The Tree. My room would plug in the lights and we'd ooh and aah accordingly. As the years went on, putting up The Tree must have become more of an effort. Even though she remained queen of Christmas, my mom wasn't as able to do the work required to get The Tree into its pristine, ornament-laden form. By this time, my sister and I had grown and gone, so my parents had sole responsibility for tending to The Tree. Instead of giving up the task, my morn took an offensive approach. (She was a stubborn and pragmatic Scandinavian.) She began decorating The Tree earlier in the fall so she could do the work in small chunks and still be done well before the Thanksgiving tur- key came out of the oven. This continued for a few years. My sister and I joked about the possibility of tree decorating in luly, but I know we both appre- I i i www.tri cou ntyn ews. M N POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Tri-County News, RO. Box 220, Kimball MN 55353. The Tri-County News (USPS 639- 180) is entered at the Post Office, Kimball, Minnesota 55353, as Penodi- cats. It is published Thursdays by the TH-County News, Inc., RO. Box 220, KimbaU MN 55353, Stearns County. LOCATION: Our office is at 70 Main Street South in downtown Kimball. Weekday office hours are Monday 9 a. m.-5 p. m. and Tuesday through Fri- day 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Our telephone and fax number is (320) 398-5000. E-mail can be addressed to <news@tricounty news.MN>. Our Web site is <ww. tricountynews.MN>. We also have a drop site at Ertl Hardware Hank in downtown Watkins. DEADLINE: 2 p.m. Monday. RATES: Subscription rates are $30/year ($20 for age 62 and old- er) in Minnesota; S40/year ($30 for seniors) elsewhere in the U.S. Single copy price is 75 cents. STAFF: Jean Ooran Matua, Editor and Publisher Sue Hughes: Creative Designer Maxine Doran: Admin. Associate Marguerite Laabs: Photographer Marlene A. Young: Ad Sales Rep The staff of the Tri-County News recognizes that it has a re- sponsibility to report the news ac- curately'and fairly, and that it is accountable to the public. Please contact our office if you feel we've fallen short of that objective. LETTERS: The Tri-County News welcomes letters promoting the exchange of ideas: and :opinions, :To be considered for pdbitcatiOn, let; ters should address a topic of cur- rent or general interest. Private, thanks, political self-promotion, li- belous letters, or letters denigratlfig character or reputation will not be published. All letters must bear the writer's signature, address:and tele- phone number. :We reservethe Hght to edit for cladtyand readabilitY. LEGAL PUBLICATION: The Tri- County News is the publication of record for the city of Kimball, Independent School District #739, Clearwater River Watershed Dis- trict, Stearns County, and the Townships of Fair Haven, Kingston and Maine Prairie. RECYCLING: The Tfi-County News is printed with soy inks on recycled paper whenever possible. We encourage recycling. COPYRIGHT: All content herein is the property of the Tri-County News and is protected by U.S. copyright law; content may not be reproduced without our written prior consent. We are proud to be a member of: Minnesota Newspaper Assoc. Kimball Area Chamber Kimball Area Historical Society Stearns County Press Assoc. 2009 MNA Award for Best Serf- Promotion Ad; 2008 MNA Award for Best Advertisement; 2008 Award for Portrait and Personality Photography; 2007 MNA Award for Advertising Excellence; 2007 MNA Award, Best Information Graphic; 2006 MNA Award, Classified Adver- tising; 2004 MNAAward, Advertis- ing Excellence; 2000 MNAAward, Best Local News Story. " 2010, Tri-County News Si % Il . 1, . 11 " ti,