Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

'Tis a time for tradition

By Sally Y. Hayes

By SALLY Y. HAYES

Mt. Pleasant News

The halls have been decked, the trees decorated, presents wrapped and kitchens filled with the scents of goodies baking – its that time of year, Christmas is upon us.

Christmas is a time for celebration, a time for gathering and often, a time for tradition.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; instead of contemplating political concerns, we were able to discuss favorite Christmas memories.

Instead of a specific incident I realized that it is the traditions of each of our families that we both cherish; I suspect that many others enjoying the holidays share that sentiment.

He explained that he and his family enjoyed Midnight Mass at Saint Alphonsus Church.

Vilsack also stated, “We always enjoyed going to tree farms with the kids and cutting down the tree – we always had four opinions about which tree. We often got trees that were enormous, but had a good time decorating the tree.”

This tree-cutting endeavor is a tradition in my family as well. Unless the weather stopped us, we bundled up for the excursion the day after Thanksgiving. And no, I don’t recall any Black Friday deals at Christmas tree farms.

My younger sister, Maya, and I would buckle up in the back seat of Dad’s pickup truck while Mom adjusted the radio to a station play Christmas carol. She always sings along.

We would make the trek to the nearest pine tree farm; it always felt as though it took days to get there, and even longer to decide which to cut. Maya and I would chat about what Santa would bring us in the following month and what treats we would leave out for Rudolph.

Yes, at the Hayes house Santa isn’t the only one who gets treats, Maya would set out an apple or carrot sticks for the reindeer to enjoy. To say she is an animal person would be an understatement.

And yes, like the Vilsacks, we always had four opinions. However, we always cut down two trees to take home – one for Mom’s elegant tree decorated with gold, silver and other delicate ornaments while the other tree became the home of the multicolored ornaments gathered over the years on trips and made by little hands for classroom projects.

We each have a favorite ornament that we hang on the perfect bough. Dad places the star on top, Maya has a dog ornament and my favorite growing up was of a mermaid. And like The Waltons’ Mary Ellen, Mom places a bird’s nest in one of the trees.

Another tradition I enjoy greatly is how each family member has a stocking at the Hayes house. And by each member I do not mean just Dad, Mom, Maya and myself.

Each pet has it’s own. Maya is rather excited to add one this year for her horse, Starbuck. Thor and Loki will be additions as well. I have a feeling the stockings will be filled with apples and other treats for our four-legged friends this year.

And with the tradition, Santa is always in charge of filling the stockings. That is if we were deemed good for the year. I only remember a lump of coal once — it was in Maya’s stocking, I swear.

It is a season of tradition, whether it is Grandma’s casserole, making cookies with a passed down family recipe or wrapping presents together with patterned paper and ribbon. Perhaps a trip to visit cousins, attending an annual service, watching a particular movie, reading a certain book or listening to a favorite album is your tradition.

Whatever your tradition may be, I hope that each one of you has a chance to fully enjoy it.