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Honoring Old Traditions and Making New Ones

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By Caroline Schafer

There’s no reason to be a Scrooge during the holiday season when there are so many festive family memories to make! 

Whether you trim your family tree with tinsels of togetherness or light your evenings with the glow of ceremony, creating family traditions are what the holiday season is all about. Parents have a magical advantage because they get to wrap up their favorite childhood traditions into their own family’s memories, creating tidings of traditions to be the gift that will keep on giving for years to come! 

Army spouse, Selena Conmackie, shared how her family, husband MSG Paul Conmackie and 15- year-old daughter Madelind Flickinger, celebrates during the holiday season. 

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? 

I LOVEEEEEE the holidays. My mom made it so special for us all even when she was a single parent with three kids. Always over the top. I try to breathe that same vibe into my home during any holiday. Some of the ways I do this is by: 

• Putting up a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. But COVID made me say, “Alright, November 12, the tree is going up!” And, I must admit, I didn’t hate it. 

• Searching for Christmas lights to drive around and admire. 

• Seeing Santa (because D’uh).

• Making a turkey. It’s a new thing for me since leaving home – Hawaii – at age 40, and now being a military wife who is overseeing a big meal. Before, I was always the ‘Appetizer,’ or Pupu as we say in Hawaii, gal. 

• Creating a space for military friends and family to join us for a big meal. I’ve hosted a couple of Friendsgivings (and most recently we called our Easter a Freaster) and love hearing the kids talking, friends laughing, and food being consumed. That party mess that remains at the end of the night gives me happy feels because I know it came from a lot of love and from being together during the holidays. 

What are some of the things you learned from your family that you brought into your military family? 

I learned from my mother to always celebrate everything. When I first moved to our duty station after becoming a military wife at 40, I already had traditions in place from being a civilian. And I knew that I wanted still to have that same feeling of being a part of something during the holidays. Once I found my core group of pals, I threw my house in the mix for parties. 

What would you suggest to other families that are wanting to create some new holiday traditions? 

If you are up for it, host a Potluck Friendsgiving or Holiday lunch/dinner. Make it special and create new memories for your children in the new place they are. Show them that no matter where you are, you can still sit around a table with people to laugh and be merry. And if that’s a little more than you are up for, say YES when invited by someone like me. Go and just let yourself enjoy good company, good food, and good conversation. 

MWR AF06