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Traditions to remember

by Jordan Thornsberry | November 16, 2022 at 12:40 a.m.
  photo  Emily Roberts
 
 

Ugly sweaters, beautiful lessons

Emily Roberts, Lewis and Clark Middle School teacher

“In 2011, I found a sweater at a thrift store and wore it to school. I loved how it made people laugh, and that was enough for me. I wanted to make it something that would brighten someone’s day, so the tradition started. While it started with ugly sweaters, it has now become so much more! I love how it makes other people feel. I know I look ridiculous most days, but other people are smiling and laughing, and that makes it a wonderful thing. Many friends and family have started to wear #uglydecember outfits, too! I always tell my students that the opinions of others should not define you. If people don’t like something about you, that is their problem, not yours. Showing up each day dressed silly is a real-life example of that lesson. They always ask if I change before I leave to do things in the evening and I tell them, ‘No, I go to church like this, to Walmart, to the doctor’s office.’ I just love it! It has turned into a year-round adventure, with sweaters and outfits for everything.”

  photo  Amber Brondel
 
 

Sweet take on traditions

Amber Brondel, marketing and events director at United Way of Central Missouri

“A favorite holiday tradition of mine is our Family Cookie Baking. We get together in early December for a full weekend of baking cookies, where we typically bake about 5,000 cookies – and recently we’ve started freezing many of them so they don’t go to waste! My family is very large — enough so that we’ve moved this tradition to the Knights of Columbus Hall in St. Thomas because we don’t fit in one single house anymore (and we need the multiple ovens)!”

  photo  Ashley Varner
 
 

Rewards in being ‘forgetful’

Ashley Varner, community relations director at Hitachi Energy

“I remember spending Christmas Eve every year at our church playing a character in the Christmas story play. As the play ended and each child walked down the corridor past attendees, we were each greeted with a brown paper sack with either an apple or orange, peanuts in the shell, and Brach’s flavored caramels. Before leaving for church, my mother would round all of my siblings and I into the car. Seat belts on, she conveniently ‘forgot’ something in the house. It was at this time that she would go into the house and sneakily put all the gifts under the Christmas tree without us knowing. She would then get into the car after waiting for her for what seemed forever. After church, brown paper sack in hand, we would drive around town and look at Christmas lights and watch the sky for a ‘Santa sighting’. We always thought we could see his sleigh amongst the vast array of stars. After returning home, us kids were always surprised to see gifts under the tree. As time marched on, life took on new traditions and new meaning. Now, with three beautiful children of my own, I find myself appreciating the work that was put into creating that magic by my family – the cooking, the shopping, the spending, the cleaning, the late nights, the planning. I absolutely love to see the joy on their faces on Christmas morning. Recently, a few of our children have begun to question the magic of “Santa”. In an effort to save that magic, we’ve taken the kids on a trip for their gift the past two years; one out West to see National Parks, and one to Florida.  Prior to leaving for the trip, I round all the kids into the car, seat belts on. I seem forgetful of a few items and send my husband with the kids to the gas station to pick up snacks and drinks while I go inside and put all the gifts under the tree. Then, ta dah! Once we return from the trip, Santa has visited. It’s been so fun to listen to the kids wonder if Santa will visit since they’ve been out of town. Rack it up to a ‘win’ for us parents!”

  photo  Tara Bishop
 
 
  photo  Kelsey Chrisman
 
 

Great Grandpa Elmer’s house

Tara Bishop, Blair Oaks Elementary School principal

“As a child, my favorite holiday tradition was to spend Christmas Eve at my Great Grandpa Elmer’s House. I have a very big family and we could fit over 100 people in his small house. The food table would be loaded down and there would be people sitting everywhere. Almost like it was a scene from a movie. Before we went to his house we always attended Christmas Eve church service at Immanuel Lutheran Honey Creek. As an adult, my favorite Christmas tradition is to play ‘reindeer games’ with my four sisters, two brother-in-laws, mom and dad, and husband. We are all very competitive and even the silliest of games can entertain us for a long time.”

Kelsey Chrisman, JC Healthy Schools coordinator

“Family traditions run deep in the Schulte household. One of my favorite  Christmas memories from childhood took place on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve was a “Homecoming” at my church, Immanuel Honey Creek, where all families far and wide gathered in their Christmas outfits for the kids’ Christmas Eve Program. As a kid in the program, I was definitely nervous. But the brown paper bag with an orange, a candy bar and a stick of gum after made it all worth it. After the Christmas Eve Program, our entire family headed to my Great Grandpa Elmer’s farm house to enjoy delicious food, open presents, play and visit. The kids ran wild and free. Now that I’m an adult, I know the adults were reminiscing about all their shenanigans on that old farm while they were growing up. Christmas Eve will always hold a special place in my heart for the family I’ve been so richly blessed to grow older with.”

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