CONNERSVILLE- Thomas “Jim” and Irene Schmidt have been celebrating the holidays together for 62 years since being married in 1950.
Jim was born and raised in the Boyceville/Connorsville area along side his parents and five brothers and four sisters. Irene was raised in the Clear Lake area and comes from a family of five kids.
Together the couple have two sons, Robin and Rick and a daughter Rosanne who they raised at their home outside of Connorsville.
They had a traditional Christmas while raising their own children. There were Christmas programs at school and Sunday school. A big meal with ham, mashed potatoes, cranberries and plenty of desserts would be made.
The family also took part in Christmas caroling around Connorsville and Boyceville as a holiday tradition.
Now days, Jim and Irene celebrate the Christmas season with their children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The kids either open their presents on Christmas Eve or early Christmas Day so they can play with their toys right away.
Growing up as children themselves, they would have Christmas with their parents and siblings.
“I remember my very first Christmas, it was during the depression and I was three years old and all I got was an apple,” shared Irene.
Irene’s father owned an auto repair shop in Reeve and he would dress up as Santa Claus.
“He kept his suit in the desk in the garage, so us kids knew from early on that he was Santa. The town kids figured it would after they recognized his greasy fingers,” chuckled Irene.
Irene reminisced about getting sleigh rides in the winter time, which was basically their only entertainment during that time of year.
Jim shared that his Christmas’s as a kid were your typical Christmas, but he does remember always wishing for a BB Gun every year. There was plenty of Oyster stew to go around as well and sometimes Lutefisk due to the Norwegian neighbors.
The discussion brought back memories to Jim about his first fish that he caught as a child. He went down to the creek and used a paper clip and a piece of string to catch the fish that he proudly brought home to his mother.
Irene and Jim shared that their happiest Christmas to date was in 1959 when their first child was born.
“I remember it very clear that it was 35 below that day,” shared Irene.
Today, Jim and Irene spend their days during the week at the Community Center in Glenwood City where the senior citizens go in the early afternoons.
Irene helps in the kitchen making lunch each day for the 15-20 seniors that show up.
Along with lunch, they all catch up on their chit-chat and play a few games of Bingo.
Jim also works part-time doing home assembly for Vital Plastics in Baldwin. He has been working there for 13 years now. Since Irene has retired she helps Jim assemble the plastic parts together each week.
Irene has been a piano player since the age of three and to this day she still continues to play as the church organist at the Methodist Church. It has been 39 years now that she has played as an organist.
She also works at the Coat Closet in the Methodist Church which provides winter clothing from boots to hats to snow pants, all free of charge.
Jim and Irene have become home-bodies now as they assume their vacation days are over with.
They have traveled around the United States from the Carolina’s to the Dakota’s. However, their favorite place has been Branson, Missouri. They have vacationed there nine times with the last time being a year ago.
“We usually stay in a motel and stop at flee markets in the area and on the way. There is a lot of country western music and shows that we like to go to,” shared Irene.
This Christmas the Schmidts are not quite sure of their plans yet.
“We will be at one of the grandkids on Christmas Eve and then another one’s house for Christmas Day,” shared Irene.