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Mike the Mailman: Family Traditions Serve as Hallmark of Holiday Season

by on December 20, 2011 1:57 AM

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the 'Park,' not many students were stirring with only a few squirrels dancing in the dark.
 
As most of you know, my office at the 'Park' is usually one of the busiest post offices in the country. There's lots of hustle and bustle for 51 weeks out of the year. If all of the post offices country-wide would be like the one here in 16802, I do not believe the United States Postal Service would be in the financial trouble they seem to be in at this time.

But this week, when all other post offices are experiencing their busiest week of the year — a close second being the tax deadline in April — my office is pretty quiet. It has allowed me the opportunity to ask a lot of my customers about their holiday plans and/or traditions. It's been great hearing about other people's holiday fun.

Our family traditions start on the Thanksgiving weekend when, as a family, we go to Kuhn's Tree Farm and cut down our tree that my wife, Katie, and I tag a few weeks earlier. Now, when our girls were younger we had tradition that included driving to Lock Haven — where both Katie and I are from — and spending Christmas Eve with my parents. We would have a lovely and delicious dinner before we went to Christmas Mass, and then we would return to their home and open presents.

We would then return to our home in State College to wake up on Christmas morning, open some more presents, enjoy a grand breakfast — with an extra hidden present always to be found behind our kitchen island — and head back down to Lock Haven to enjoy the organized chaos at Katie's parents' home, which usually hosted about 20 family members.

Both Katie's and my parents have since passed, but we are still blessed with those memories and traditions to this day. We have since moderated our family holiday traditions and still agree that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

A Penn State student named Leora told me of her and her family's Hanukkah traditions, as well as what they do on Christmas Day since a lot of businesses are closed. A staff member here at Penn State, David, says he likes to dive his young children through some of their neighborhood streets that are always well decorated at night. Another visitor to my office advised me that his family doesn't celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. Instead, they celebrate Festivus together on Dec. 27. This includes lots of food, drink and plenty of competitive bowling.

Katie and I often wonder how the newer traditions we've created will be modified when our daughters get married and potentially have families of their own. It's our hope their traditions will include some organized chaos with us.

In wrapping up this holiday column, no matter what you celebrate this holiday season, where you go and how long you stay, my wish for everyone is that you are able to spend quality time with your most favorite people, the family and friends who contribute to your holiday cheer. These special people in our lives are our greatest gifts. Please enjoy them with all your might.

Warmest holiday wishes to all, and to all a goodnight.



Mike (The Mailman) Herr gives his stamp of approval to all visitors Monday through Friday at the University Park post office in the ground floor of McAllister Building, adjacent to the HUB. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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