Celebrating family traditions during the holidays

NIAGARA, Wis. — Family traditions come to life during the holiday season like no other time of the year and are what help to make the holidays so special. There is great value in family traditions as explained in an article on fatherhood, relationships and family written by Brett and Kate McKay.

1. Traditions provide a source of identity. They often tell a story about the family’s history and can teach children where their family came from or give them insights into their cultural or religious history. The food associated with family gatherings plays a leading role in keeping family traditions alive because it is so closely linked to family culture. Recipes are shared with each generation along with stories of celebrations long past.

I have very fond memories of how much my grandfather-in-law loved my scalloped potatoes. I prepared them, along with ham and all the trimmings, whenever my husband’s family came to celebrate with us. Grandpa used to sit right next to those potatoes and continually help himself to more throughout the meal until grandma would slap his hand and say, “That’s enough, Frank!” I remember that to this day whenever I make those potatoes.

I am of German heritage, and that was made very clear every New Year’s Eve. We always stayed home on that night — the only acceptable excuse not to be there was if I had a babysitting job — and we enjoyed a “snack supper.” Everyone had their favorites, but they all reflected our German roots. To this day I remember how my mom would pack cucumber sandwiches and herring for me to take babysitting if I could not be home with the family.

2. Traditions strengthen the family bond. Researchers have consistently found that families who engage in frequent traditions report stronger connection and unity than families who have not established rituals together. As families gather to observe their traditions, they enjoy the all-too-rare opportunity of face-to-face interaction in the midst of very busy lives. Time together helps families get to know and trust each other more intimately and to create a bond that lets each member know they are a part of something unique and bigger than themselves.

This is especially important now that families are so spread out. Our family extends to California, Lower Michigan, Florida, Minnesota and Illinois. Coming together for the holidays kept us close for decades.

3. Traditions also offer comfort and security in the midst of schedules that have become way too overloaded for many of us. Meeting the demands of work and school, and keeping the home running smoothly in the midst of chaos can be all consuming. So, the Christmas trip to grandma’s house can provide a nice change of pace. While everything else around us keeps changing, which regularly places new demands on us, the annual holiday trip is a welcome respite for everyone.

4. Traditions help to teach values. This is true throughout the year. Daily family prayer is reinforcement of the importance of faith. Evening bedtime stories demonstrate the importance of education, and a habit of lifelong learning is developed. Regular family gatherings to share a meal or celebrate a holiday places value on the family unit and demonstrates to children just how important family is to everyone gathered around the table. The family is not complete unless each member is present; each member has a place at the table no matter how young or how far from home they have travelled.

Our oldest son, who was also the oldest of 12 grandchildren on my husband’s side of the family, learned his place in the family very early thanks to his Grandpa Frank, who always called him “Chief.” When our son asked why, grandpa explained to him that he was the oldest and it was his job to help keep the other grandchildren happy and under control. Well, our son needed no further encouragement and set about directing the “grandchildren’s play” that became an annual tradition in itself!

5. Traditions connect the generations. Research has shown that families benefit from a high level of involvement from grandparents. Mothers have less stress, fathers become more involved, and children have fewer emotional and behavioral problems. Obviously, the “wisdom of the aged” that comes from experience injects an aura of calm into the family that benefits everyone.

6. Traditions help to create lasting memories. Recent research has shown that reflecting fondly on one’s past actually provides a myriad of positive benefits including counteracting loneliness, boosting generosity toward strangers, and preventing anxiety.

As we age, it is important to understand that traditions need to flex to accommodate growing families as well as our advancing years. As our children get married, there will be another family’s traditions to consider. You may need to be open to having your son home on alternating Christmases as he celebrates with his wife’s family. Or you may need to change the date of your celebration in order for everyone to be together. Also, the distance involved and the expense or hazards of travel may prohibit an annual visit over the holidays. Finally, we may find hosting the annual holiday dinner too much for our advancing years. Maybe it’s time to consider preparing that “one special dish that grandma makes best” and taking it to the new center of celebration.

As these natural changes occur, traditions can remain intact if everyone keeps the lines of communication open. Stay flexible as your adult children celebrate with their in-laws, and allow them to establish family traditions of their own. Don’t be afraid to let your adult children know that hosting has simply become too much and figure out a way together to keep the traditions alive.

After all is said and done, what is at the heart of the tradition is not the food, the location or the date. It is the act of coming together — one way or the other — to celebrate the family you are while remembering the past and looking forward to the future.






Sunday: Scenes and sounds, noon; toss across, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Dawn’s music students, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Knit/crochet, 10:30 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Golden Throats, 2:00 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; Bible study, 1:15 p.m.; party decorations, 1:30 p.m.; residents’ Christmas party, 6 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:45 a.m.; parlor games, 1:15 p.m.; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; evening news, 6 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits 9 to 11 a.m.; story telling, 10 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Coffee social/early bird bingo, 9:45a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Santa’s elves, 1:15 p.m.; sunshine club, 2:30 p.m.; musical carolers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Book Club, 10 a.m.; prayer,10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; travel club, 2 p.m.; light tour, 6 p.m.; holiday movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Community breakfast, 9 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; surprise musical concert, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m.; Bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Christ United Church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Ugly Sweater Day, crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; old fashioned sing along with eggnog, 2 p.m.; Christmas movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Puzzler/name that word, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.; card club, 6 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Popcorn day: Every Friday

Sunday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; Markham Piano Music Studio’s music recital, 2 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; Did you know? 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan music, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Christmas “Name That Tune,” 10 a.m.; resident council/food committee, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party with music by Jim Edberg, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Visits from the Willis Center, 9:30 a.m.; Christmas bake sale, 10 a.m.; Kingsford High School chorus performance, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; ABC game, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Saturday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: “Family Feud,” 10:15 a.m.; tailgate party: Packers vs. Bears, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; Yahtzee, 10:15 a.m.; Northern scholars program, 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; religious bingo, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Yoga, 10 a.m.; monthly birthday party with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; Christmas carolers from Family Baptist Church, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; board game, Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.

Friday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; ball toss, 10:15 a.m.; short stories and hot cocoa, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Ray and Mindy, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Football: Packers vs. Bears, noon; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Thursday: “Wheel of Fortune,” 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Birthday party, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open Tuesday and Thursday.

Snack Cart, 7 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday: Bingo/family and friends social time, 10 a.m.; football. Packers vs. Bears, noon; Pastor Miller, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; chocolate fondue party, 2 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.; reading, 6:15 p.m.

Tuesday: Pastor Doug, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; Christmas sing with Valri, 2:30 p.m.; social hour, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Craft, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; music with Grace and Dave, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Crystal, 10:30 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; ornament party, 2:30 p.m.; caroling with Florence PTO, 4 p.m.; reminisce, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; coffee and chat, 11 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; happy half hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo/family and friends visit, 10 a.m.; board game, Pictionary, 6:15 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; bean bag toss, 10:30 a.m.; cards, 2 p.m.; life stories, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; rosary, 2:30 p.m.; bean bag toss, 3:30 p.m.; checkers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; “Family Feud,” 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Social circle, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45; birthday party, 2 p.m.; bunco, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Ginger bread houses, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; board game, Trouble, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; happy hour, 2 p.m.; trivia, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Karaoke, 10:15 a.m.; cards, 10:30 a.m.; beauty shop, 2 p.m.; reminiscing, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those who have meals delivered who will not be home should notify the Center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Ham, scalloped potatoes, corn, and coleslaw.

Wednesday: Lasagna, green beans, and salad.

Thursday: Beef stew, bean salad, and roll.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month, except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Cabbage rolls.

Tuesday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, wax beans, and cornbread.

Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo, buttered noodles, and Brussels sprouts.

Thursday: night meal: Pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn, biscuits.

Friday: Baked fish or sloppy joe, potato wedges, and green beans.

Soup, salad and dessert are offered with every meal. Reservations for meals are encouraged. Walk-ins are welcomed.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The Center is not just for seniors — bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations is $5 if older than 60; $6 if younger than 60; and $1 extra for take-out.

To reserve meals, call the Center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people.

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar, 5 p.m., dinner.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, and vegetables.

Tuesday: Christmas dinner: Potato sausage, cheesy potatoes, ham, sweet potatoes, and vegetables.

Wednesday: Lemon pepper cod, baked potatoes, and vegetables.

Crystal Lake Center

Christine McMahon

906-774-2256, ext. 235

The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m.; crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday: Happy Quilters, 1 p.m.; two-person team cribbage, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday: Smear, noon.

The kitchen once again is open and serving meals. A new lunch program is offered every Wednesday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Meals cost id $5 for those younger than 60 years old and a $4 donation for those older than 60.

Home delivered meal menu for week:

Monday: Spaghetti and meatballs, green beans, and garlic bread.

Tuesday: Turkey and cheese sandwich, coleslaw, and potato chips.

Wednesday: Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and corn.

Thursday: Chicken Alfredo, noodles, and broccoli.

Friday: Tater tot casserole, biscuit, and peas.

Center based meal menu for week:

Wednesday lunch: Egg salad sandwich, bean and bacon soup, and salad bar.

Please Note: Beginning in January of 2020, night meals will be moving from Tuesdays to the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken cordon bleu casserole, garlic bread, and winter blend vegetables.

Tuesday: Chili, cornbread, and crackers.

Wednesday: Evening meal: Baked ham, scalloped potatoes, and green bean casserole.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations are needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Fish sandwich, lettuce and tomato, sweet potato fries, baked beans, strawberries and cream.

Tuesday: Cook’s choice: Entrée, vegetable, and fruit.

Wednesday: Christmas dinner: Glazed ham, company potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and cranberry apple crisp with whipped topping.

Thursday: Chicken pot pie with vegetables, biscuits, and fruit.

Friday: Chili with shredded cheese and onions, cornbread, and pears.

Other assistance includes information on aging, benefits specialist, and caregiver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal reservations call 855-528-2372

Meal served Wednesday only with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

Meal reservations call 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday through Thursday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Tipler Town Hall

Meal reservations call 715-674-2320

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month only, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

Meal reservations call 715-589-4491

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the same menu as listed under ADRC of Florence County. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 ext. 235 or ext. 230.

Saturday, Dec. 21: Pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon; cost is $5.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Fish, macaroni and cheese, and zucchini.

Tuesday: Chili, and cornbread.

Wednesday: Turkey wrap, cottage cheese, and potato chips.

Thursday: Night meal: Ham sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and dessert.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis. area. Any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place are welcome — join us for lunch then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Monday: Center board meeting at 10 a.m.

Menu for the week:

Monday: Savory steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, winter blend vegetables, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Tuesday: Christmas dinner: Ham sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Noon meal: Taco salad with vegetable toppings, tortilla chips, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert; 4 p.m. meal: Barbecue rib dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, and dessert.

Thursday: Birthday Club: Beef stroganoff over noodles, green beans, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, and birthday cake.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 

Menu for the week:

Tuesday: Tomato-basil soup, ham and cheese sandwich, broccoli, and Mandarin oranges.

Wednesday: Ham, baked potatoes, beets, and pineapple.

Thursday: Sloppy Joe, potato wedges, coleslaw, and pears.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)