Like many families, Bob and Beth Chalberg value traditions. The couple will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on December 29, and as they do most years, are planning a mini-getaway to mark the occasion. It’s a rare celebration that does not include their grandchildren: Berkley (7), Eleanor (3), Bryn (2), and Jude (1). The four are a huge part of Bob and Beth’s lives.
“I know it’s a cliché,” Beth says, “but it’s true: it’s so much better than the first time around.” Many grandparents share this sentiment, as well as Bob’s, even if they’re reluctant to admit it. “I like the fact that they can go home at the end of the day,” he adds with a laugh.
There is no doubt the family shares a close connection. Beth, a teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary, and Bob, who works for American Family Insurance, spend a lot of time with their grandkids. Favorite activities include trips to the park, “touristy things” like Reptile Gardens, and breakfast together every Sunday. Christmas Eve is a big deal; the entire extended family—about 25 in all, including aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews—gathers at Beth’s parent’s house for a holiday celebration that includes a White Elephant gift exchange. Every summer, they embark upon a staycation at a favorite spot in the Black Hills, and on the 4th of July—Bob’s birthday—they all meet up at Mount Rushmore in the morning for breakfast. “It isn’t about the meal,” Bob says. “It’s more about the companionship.”
The family acknowledges how lucky they are that everybody is so close—literally. Both children, Erin and Ryan, live in Rapid City, and their grandkids are right down the street. It makes getting together a breeze.
“I can’t imagine not having grandchildren close by,” Beth says. “We’re so blessed that they’re always here.”
Granddaughter Berkley feels the same way. “They’re so nice and when you need something, they do it,” she says. “I just love them so much.”
WORDS MARK PETRUSKA
PHOTO JESSE BROWN NELSON