BISMARCK, N.D. (KXMB) – Christmas comes and goes and more or less seems like a repeat of the year before — except, of course, for this year and last year. Alex and Kathryn Bichler have lived through a lot of Christmas seasons, but after what came in 2020, this will literally be the Christmas of a lifetime.

November 6, 1946, is the day Alex and Kathryn got married more than 75 years ago, but Kathryn Bichler was skeptical then.

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“My impression at first was not the best, because he was a little bit on the wild side,” she said.

With a little patience, things changed and the two married. They spent their lives farming, and they’ve been together through life’s ups and downs.

“We did everything. We had chickens and ducks and geese. The only thing we didn’t have was sheep,” Kathryn said.

The other thing they had — and still have — is a large family.

“I’m the middle of six children,” their daughter, Kathy Ibach said. “Every day was an example of faith, family, and friends.”

But the last Christmas for the Bichlers, like it was for many of us, was tough, including not being able to see friends and family as much, as well as not having all the fun that they wanted to.

“Last year, we didn’t get to have our resident Christmas party,” said Grace Renner, the life enrichment director at Touchmark senior living facility, where Alex and Kathryn live. “We were trying to keep our residents and the community of Bismarck and Mandan safe.”

Fortunately, pandemic conditions are improving in North Dakota, so the Christmas party is back on. As far as what has kept the Bichlers together for so long, Kathryn said it’s not complicated.

“It was the commitment, the children. Most of all, we took our responsibilities as a family serious [sic] and that had to come first,” said Kathryn, who added that setting aside time for fun, and having a sense of humor, has also helped a lot.