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Monday December 21, 2015 Edition
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Sharing Memories And Traditions Of Four And Five Generations At Christmas Time


photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

Monday December 21, 2015

By Cookie Steponaitis

Perhaps at no other time of the year are we as people so conscious of the passage of time and swiftness of our lives than at the holidays. The hustle of each day moves us closer to the holiday season and the New Year’s resolutions of getting healthy and losing weight. However the desire to slow down and spend more time with those we love are not only goals that speak to our hearts, but traditions that fill the holidays with meaning, purpose and love from generation to generation. What are your family’s traditions that make the holidays seem right and bring those indescribable feelings to your heart that last long after the calendar has turned over a to a New Year as you gather this year? Sharing memories of Christmas traditions are the women of the Allen and Pratt families and in one family five generations are alive to share the holiday together and in the other four generations are busy making it a season to remember.
    Meet Ashlie Allen, a busy mom who looks to this time of year for bringing her great joy and contact with generations of her family. “I love being able to get together with the people that mean the most to me. We're all so busy during the year and the holiday season is no exception. Family time is a priority and it’s the greatest blessing to come together. For me, no holiday gathering would be complete without the chocolate pie that came from a recipe from my great-great grandmother Louise. At every family gathering people wait to pounce on it and there is never a slice left. Never.” And with five generations getting ready for Christmas, traditions are very important and even the kids have their own favorites to add to the list. Ashlie’s children love the homemade macaroni and cheese and getting to open their pajamas on Christmas Eve. Ashlie’s mom Heidi chimed in that, “my holidays would not be complete without the Waiting for Santa pajamas on Christmas Eve. We always take a family photo in our jammies,” shared Heidi. “We attend the candlelight service on Christmas Eve and morning finds us gathered with generations together with lots and lots of food. My mom makes a delicious homemade hot chocolate and then chooses a story to read as everyone gathers near.”
    Eleanor Pratt cherishes the tradition of making and eating homemade ice cream as a child as well as an adult. Her memory of hanging her stocking in a stovepipe hole in the bedroom that looked down into the dining room is as sharp in her mind as it was ninety years ago when she hung it. While Eleanor always got an orange in the toe of her sock, she remembers gatherings with the family from New Haven and Panton where at least twenty-five folks would gather. Some of the yummy food would include roast goose, scalloped oysters and of course divinity fudges as well as pork and Jello salad. “The desserts were always heavenly,” grinned Eleanor. “They still are!” Daughter Ellen Pratt adds to the memories her favorite traditions of baking and decorating sugar cookies which she has passed on to her daughter Sara and granddaughter Nova. “The holidays are always a time to be with family,” shared Ellen. “Some of our family would travel two hours to be at the family farm for one day. One Christmas I remember receiving a play stove and a set of dishes. I was already to start then preparing my own Christmas dishes.”
    Not to be forgotten generations three and four have their own precious memories and traditions to add. “My favorite Christmas memory is I asked for a dollhouse,” reminisced Sara. “My mother managed to get a huge dollhouse and hide it in our basement and every night remodeled it and added curtains, carpet and handmade furniture. I still have it and plan to remodel it and present it to my daughter Nova when she is ready for one.”  Little Nova may only be three but she shared her own opinions and said, “My favorite story is How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Christmas lights are the best. I like to eat frosting and I like to make cookies.” Sara rounded out the sharing with a family tradition of Grandmother Joyce playing a piano on Christmas Eve and gathering around the piano to sing Christmas Carols.
    Two families with generations of love and traditions to share and it is clear every time that it is not the size of the gift or the razzle dazzle of the moment but the cherished time of people, food, song, tradition and togetherness that makes a holiday complete. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Valley Voice and may the generations gathered at your table share their own stories to be heard, treasured and passed on in the collective family practices each year. And as Tiny Tim did remind us all in A Christmas Carol, “God bless us everyone.”


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