By Robert Lucke
Nora Koefod knows how to keep Christmas well. Her Havre home is a blend and mixture of old and new Christmas decorations, and each has a story to tell those who enter the house.
Koefod's decorations for years were like so many in Havre red and green. That all changed when she gave up the home she and her family had shared for 45 years and moved into a new townhouse. That was in early 1996.
That fall the Havre Soroptimists asked her to include her new home on a Christmas house tour. Koefod had been buying Christmas decorations from Cranberry Christmas and thought it would be a good idea if folks from the store decorated her house using the colors of her furnishings. Koefod liked the burgundy and gold Christmas they came up with so much that Koefod has the Cranberry girls, Audry Meiwald and Lori Kanning, come back each year to redo the house for Christmas.
"But that is not really how it started," Koefod said, laughing. "Really, I was on a trip and saw a miniature Santa dressed in suede and mink. I had to have him and that started it all. When I travel, if I find something that I like or will go with the rest of the decorations, I bring it home."
Lest one think that Koefod threw away her old ornaments, well, not true. Her daughter, Debbie, made a large framed Christmas tree out of Koefod's discarded earrings. It is spectacular in her upper study area. And there are the gold reindeer and sleigh that she had bought at Don's Pharmacy many years ago. There they sit on an end table in her living room among a tangle of green and garland.
Amazing as all the beautiful Christmas decorations are in Koefod's house, they compliment this lady, who has been such a good Havre neighbor for so many for so long.
Raised in Big Sandy, Koefod came to Havre to go to college. She remembers well Northern Montana College's first president, Guy Vande Bogart.
"Vande Bogart got me my first teaching job. He did that for all of his teachers and maybe everyone who went to school there and needed a job," she said. "That is a good school and you know even today it is so good for this part of Montana because many people just couldn't go to school if that school was not here. It is really needed for this country."
She taught in Havre, Miles City and Glasgow before coming back to Havre and marrying Don Koefod in 1948. He died in 1993.
Koefod has one daughter, Debbie, who is married to Tom Healy. She has two grandchildren.
As with most old-timers, Koefod has seen many changes in Havre since her first Christmas here in 1948. Her love for the town and area has never dimmed.
"When I think of Havre, I think of the friendliness and it is worth so much that when you walk down the street you can say hi to everyone," said Koefod.
"I have seen a lot of changes in the town through the years," she said. "Just think of it, I first came to Havre for the music festivals. My first one was when I was in the seventh grade. And you know we have been in business here for so long that it bothers me when any business has to close its doors. That is always troublesome for me."
Whether it's her own experiences at Northern Montana College or other schools in Havre, they remain close to her heart.
"You know we have such wonderful schools. They offer so much for drama, sports and music. They are just outstanding."
Fifty-three Christmases later from that first Havre Christmas in 1948, Koefod's love and loyalty for her town twinkles as brightly as the ornaments that decorate her beautiful home.
And she would be the first to add, a very Merry Christmas to one and all.