Recent Op-Eds

A Christmas Frame of Mind

December 19, 2014

In the Christmas movie classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” Kris Kringle wisely says, “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it is a frame of mind...” The Christmas season is truly a frame of mind; it’s a time of memories, tradition, and generosity shared with family and friends. From picking out the Christmas tree, to baking for the neighbors, nearly every family has their own customs and traditions to help them get in the spirit around the holidays.

Like many South Dakotans, several of my memories are tied to the smells and tastes of the holidays. Growing up, my family would pile in the car to head to my grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve where she would serve her Norwegian specialty, lutefisk and leftsa, before heading to Okaton for the annual Christmas Eve service. Over time, our family moved away from the lutefisk, and opted for oyster stew or clam chowder for our traditional Christmas Eve meal. While the foods may change, the heart of the Norwegian tradition remains the same. I still can’t smell leftsa without thinking of Christmas Eve spent with family at my grandmother’s home.

For many students, the much-anticipated Christmas break provides free time to enjoy the South Dakota winter weather. Growing up, you could catch me sledding down Jackson Ave in Murdo, ice skating with neighbors and friends, and even caroling with the youth group. For some, a trip to Pierre to look at the Christmas trees in the state capitol decorated by businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government offices is an annual tradition. Others enjoy the nativities and Christmas pageants that local churches and community groups host each year.

Perhaps nothing gets us in the “frame of mind” for Christmas more than celebrating the season of giving by remembering those who are less fortunate. I am always amazed by the generosity of South Dakotans, and I know that in difficult times those in need can count on others for support during the holidays.

While most of us will continue celebrating our traditions with family and friends, let us pause to remember those families who have loved ones serving in the military around the globe who will be apart this Christmas. The strength of family members who celebrate traditions while praying for the safety of loved ones in harm’s way reminds us all of how fortunate we are to be together this time of year.

Whatever your family tradition, I hope the spirit of Christmas and the reason for the season fill you and your families with joy this holiday season. Kimberley and I wish all South Dakotans safe travels, Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year.