Family heritage influences annual holiday traditions
December 6, 2021
When one thinks of traditions or family rituals, it is likely that we in turn think of holidays. The things that happen every year or places where everyone goes when everyone gets together to celebrate. Whether that is hiding a pickle in the tree or the making of my aunt’s famous apple spice cheesecake it is a way to bond and make memories in my family. While those are some traditions that we carry out, the most important one is the very act of getting together. While most of my relatives live within a 10-mile radius of my house, life can get busy, and family can take a back seat to work or school. This makes the holidays an excuse for everyone to get together.
Everyone comes to Thanksgiving to Christmas despite differences or outside plans, those days are reserved for family. It is also unique because in my family both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family sometimes do big events like Christmas together because everyone is friends. It makes for a very welcoming environment in which everyone is welcome for whatever reason or for however long that they can stay. Christmas is especially filled with many of our family traditions. On Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember we have been going to my Great Grandparents house.
After church, we all get together to celebrate with my grandma’s brothers as well as their kids and my cousins. This started when my great grandparents were kids and then they carried out the tradition with their siblings and kids. It just kept growing and now even though my great grandparents are gone we still go to their house that my great aunt and uncle live in to celebrate and get together with people that we do not always get to see. This event has even more traditions mainly in the form of food made from recipes that have been in the family for next to forever.
Our family heritage is German so many of the recipes are surrounded by traditional German food. This includes the famous family cabbage and potatoes, apple and sausage stuffing, and chocolate chip cookies making for a very diverse dinner.
The most important tradition that is the mantra of my family is that anyone and everyone is welcome to join for whatever reason. They truly take the open door policy seriously and this has made for many more people to become a part of the family purely for showing up. It is something that I want to continue to practice because I have a wonderful family and plenty of excitement and belonging to go around. Why not bring other people along if presented with the opportunity.
With that I hope that my traditions and stories have found you well and I’ll leave you with this encouragement, that those of us who are blessed with these environments during the holidays invite those who need a family because you never know who might benefit from one small act of kindness.
Emma Statz is a student at UW-River Falls.