Holidays Bring Family Memories


Where Has The Year Gone

Steve Freese
WECA President & CEO

It seems like yesterday we were celebrating The Fourth of July and now, if you’re like my family, you’re in full swing getting ready for the winter holidays. The Thanksgiving leftovers are pretty well used up and Christmas is just around the corner. A couple of years ago I shared with you a number of my family’s Christmas traditions. As we’ve since moved back to the family farm I thought this year I would share a few more.

Both my grandparents’ and parents’ homes on the farm had wood stoves, so just after Thanksgiving we would go into the woods to get some cedar logs to burn on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve so the house would fill with the aroma of cedar.

Mom would be busy making homemade sweet rolls and pecan rolls for Christmas and New Year’s Day breakfasts. My sister and I continue to make them the day after Thanksgiving so we can send them home with our kids for their enjoyment. Mom is 92 and loves supervising our baking procedures, and the stories she tells from Christmases past are what make this time of the year so special for us. When we make our Christmas cut-out cookies it’s always with the cookie cutters used by my great-grandmother, grandmother, and my mom. Four generations have cared for these cookie cutters, and I will pass them on to my kids when the time comes.

We always have the same meal on Christmas Eve and it’s one of my favorites: homemade meatballs with spaghetti sauce simmered all day. What an aroma. Mom is originally from Oklahoma so our green beans are always made with onion and bacon and simmer for the afternoon as well. Dessert is always homemade prune cake that four generations of our family have made every Christmas. When we tell people we are having prune cake most turn up their noses until they taste it. It really is a great spice cake and well worth the wait.

In the past I shared with you my love of bubble lights, and this year they are already on the tree in the living room shining brightly. Virtually all the decorations on my Christmas tree are family heirlooms handed down over six generations, and they help the tree come alive for the holidays.

Just after Christmas my parents would throw a party out on the bluff of our farm that overlooks the Mississippi River. Dad would get the big sled with a hay rack on it, and in the early days it would be pulled by horses and later by one of his Allis Chalmers tractors. There would be a big bonfire and all the neighbors would come to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

Those were wonderful times for my family. I’m sure you have your own special stories, and I hope when your family gets together for the holidays you’ll take time to tell the kids some of those stories that help them understand where they come from. I wish you the very best this Christmas and Hanukkah season and hope you have a very happy New Year!