One of my favorite times of the year is Christmas time. My family loves Christmas time. From the stockings, to the Christmas cookies, to the time together as a family. Every year my family has several traditions that we do to celebrate. I want to take some time this year to share some of my family's traditions.
One of the earliest traditions we have is the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s then that my immediate family and several of my aunts and their kids come over to our house to make Schnitzbrot. This tradition definitely needs some explaining. You see, my mom’s side of the family is 100% German. When my great grandma came over she brought with her a lot of traditions and recipes. One such was a bread called Schnitzbrot. The easiest way to describe this bread is sort of like a Christmas fruit cake but more bread like and in a loaf. As long as I can remember my family has made this bread. Each year we make around 20 loaves and give them to all my aunts and uncles and other family members. It’s tradition to eat this bread on christmas morning each year. Even though my grandma passed away several years back we still make this bread and it still brings our family together. This picture is me, my brother, and cousin kneading the Schnitzbrot
The next tradition that we have is with our nativity set. My mom’s side has this tradition where every kid gets a nativity of their own. The nativity is gifted to them by their godparents. You get the basic part on your first Christmas and each year you get more pieces to add to it. This is one of my favorite traditions that my family has. It’s really cool because your nativity scene shows your growth. A lot of times the pieces that you received are customized to something that happened to you that year. An example of this is last Christmas for me. I got a carpenter and his workshop. That was the year that I got grandchapion for woodworking at my county fair. This tradition is a reminder of growth and a reminder of what Christmas is truly about. This is one of the gifts I look forward to the most each year. It’s not the newest technology or fancy clothes but the reminder that Christmas is about family, growth, and God. It’s one of the best gifts to open and adding the piece to my nativity at home on Christmas eve is one of the best feelings. This picture is of my mom’s nativity this year at home. Sadly she doesn’t get her newest piece till Christmas eve.
The final tradition I want to talk about is actually after Christmas day. Two or three days after my family leaves to travel down to the Fellowship Center at the Indiana FFA Center. We meet with the rest of my mom’s side and spent three days together. This is one of the best times of the year for me. The Fellowship Center has a very special place in the hearts of my family. If you’ve ever been to a conference then you might have heard Mr. Martin tells the story of the Fellowship Center. It was built after a girl from Tri-County, named Vallerie James, died in a car crash. Her parents went to the foundation director to have a small chapel built in the woods because the FFA Center was her second home. The director decided to do more than that and through the generous donations from individuals and businesses they decided to build the Fellowship Center. Families and individuals came together to build a place for families and friends to gather for fellowship and growth. That foundation director was my Uncle and my family helped build the center. Because of this we’ve been going there after Christmas since it was built. Within this one tradition my family has several others. We always do a white elephant there, a euchre tournament, the kids have a nerf war, and so many other things. This tradition brings the whole family together. It reminds us of my grandparents who helped build it and all the love they had for us and the FFA organization. It reminds us of all the funny memories that have been made there and all the growth our family has had. Each year there’s new cousins running around and new significant others that get brought down for a day to get introduced.
These are three of the best traditions that my family has around this time of year. When I think back on them I’m reminded of all their lessons. From family to faith and everything in between. It’s these traditions that have made me who I am today. Each tradition that I have helps build something I value. It's the traditions that each of us have that makes us who we are. So what traditions do you have that make you, you.