By Janine Merrill, Stockman Bank Marketing Officer
Heading into the Christmas season almost always conjures up a nostalgic blend of happy memories and family traditions.
Traditions like the usual suspects; baking cookies, decorating a tree with ornaments passed down from generation to generation, sending cards with thoughtful holiday wishes, getting and receiving gifts, preparing and serving a delicious family meal, are just a few that most of us do each year.
Here is a glimpse of some of the Christmas traditions our employees hold near and dear, and they do on an annual basis. You might just want to add one or two of these to your own holiday traditions!
Stephanie Jolley, who works in our Accounting Department in Miles City, has a tradition whereby she and her family assemble what they call the “Goodie Box” just after Thanksgiving.
They fill it with their favorite snacks such as popcorn balls, cookies, brittle, peanuts/nuts and candies and then wrap the box in Christmas paper.
The box is opened by the family just before Christmas when they decide to decorate, watch movies, or do a game night. This fun tradition has gone on for four generations in her family, and everyone looks forward to the delicious treats that await them!
Kari Williams, Customer Service Representative at our Helena Sanders Street location told us that Christmas Eve is definitely one of her favorite days of the year and most memorable growing up.
The day was spent doing last minute shopping and preparing the house for the big family evening ahead. Kari’s father usually had to work on Christmas Eve, but after his retirement, he would join in on the preparations by making his homemade donuts and serving a large batch of Tom and Jerry’s!
Kari’s mom was in charge of the family dinner which always included Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit salad with real whip cream and Lefse – which is a traditional Swedish flatbread.
The table was beautifully set with a red or green tablecloth and the fine china, reserved for only special occasions! After dinner, gifts were opened and then everyone made the trek to Church for a beautiful candlelit service.
Singing Silent Night would bring tears of pure joy to Kari as she looked around at her family. It doesn’t get more traditional than that!
Jan Lukasik, Real Estate Loan Assistant in Missoula, told us that she and her family make hot chocolate and drive around Missoula to look at all the Christmas lights and decorations. This simple tradition brings a lot of joy to her and her family. They look forward to it every year!
Kelly McCloy, a Teller at our Bozeman Oak location started putting together “Blessing Bags” for the homeless a few years ago with her family. The bags are large zip locks and are filled with sundry items, warm socks, snacks, and a few dollars in change.
In addition, they also make “doggie bags” with dog treats for the pets of the recipients. They keep the bags in their cars to give out whenever they see a homeless person during the holiday season.
Kelly says that her children love to make them and it brings them an awareness of others. What a wonderful way to give back!
Marni Pauli, Real Estate Loan Officer in Miles City started her family tradition in 1986 – the first year that K-Mart came out with their holiday bear collection. She started collecting bears in hopes that she would have a child to pass them on to. She was blessed with her son in 2008 and decided to continue collecting the bears.
He looks forward each year to bring the three large totes that the bears are stored in, upstairs to include in the decorating process. These festive bears are placed all over the house. Needless to say, the Pauli residence is a holiday, bear, wonderland during Christmas!
And my family tradition you ask? On Christmas day I cook a sumptuous prime rib meal and serve it with several sides. We gather at the beautifully, decorated table where several types of wines are served.
The conversation starts flowing, as does more wine. This generally leads to a boisterous family discussion (argument). No one goes home though without kissing and making up, and vowing to get together again for the next holiday!
Family traditions are what make the holidays so special. Whether you have traditions you have celebrated for years or ones that maybe you are just starting, the season is about friends and family and the blessings that come from family and the love you share.
Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and keep those traditions coming!