The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Holiday Traditions Continue with Area Youth


December 16, 2020

Area youth are creating holiday cheer by participating in traditional activities such as caroling, cookie decorating, and constructing gingerbread houses or wreaths. Traditions such as these not only nurture the spirit but are an important part of bonding as friends, family, or a community.

For example, December 7 turned into Gingerbread Night 2020 at the home of Suzanne Farmer when a group of Chinook basketball players arrived after basketball practice.

Farmer, who teaches third grade at Harlem Elementary School, said, "I'm realizing my days of fun holiday activities with kids at home are gradually disappearing, so I'm just trying to squeeze in all the moments I can. Ethan Bell is a senior, Braden Eoff is a junior, and Brenden Fetter is a sophomore. They came over after basketball practice to share a little holiday cheer by showing off their creative side. It warmed this mom's heart, and the memory will live forever. I'm hoping to have more boys come over to frost sugar cookies next week. I hope it helps them to have a little stress-free fun, too. And next time it snows, they're going sledding!"

Then, on December 9, third and fourth graders from Meadowlark Elementary School performed distant Christmas caroling at the Sweet Memorial Nursing Home. According to reports from officials at the Home, the residents were quite pleased with the performance presented by the students of Mrs. Emily Scofield and Miss Shandel Fouts.

The group will also be caroling around town today, December 16, at approximately 2:00 p.m. In the words of Scofield, the carolers' purpose is "to spread some joy during the holiday season."

According to both anthropologists and psychologists, traditions play an important role in building strong bonds. Because taking part in collective rituals creates feelings of belonging, ritual is a powerful marker of identity and group membership. They also build unity, a sense of stability, and connections to the past.

For example, being a member of the Chinook community means celebrating an annual Sugarbeet Festival every fall and the Parade of Lights the day following Thanksgiving; just as being a member of the Harlem community means attending the Seed Show, while membership with the Fort Belknap Indian Community involves participating in the Mid-Winter Fair. Such traditions give us a sense of belonging and a way to express what is important to us. They connect us to our history and become an essential aspect of how we celebrate today.

Regardless of the change that life brings, traditions offer a constant, something upon which we can rely or depend. With them, we not only experience stability but a connection. When families or communities do something together year after year, it becomes a part of who they are.

As children grow up and have families of their own, they create their own traditions by merging elements of the past with the present, so as to put their own spin on the tradition and to create an identity of their own. In this way, traditions serve as a kind of bridge from the past to the present and from the older generation to the younger.

So, whether it's making Grandma's sugar cookies from a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, finding a sledding hill to soar down on Grandpa's tricked out Flexible Flyer, or making wreaths with Fort Belknap Extension Office in partnership with Native Connections tonight at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom video conferencing, traditions provide something relatable and memorable.

Fort Belknap Native Connections is a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funded project. It aims to plan and implement culturally competent substance abuse and suicide prevention, trauma reduction, and mental health promotion services for Aaniiih and Nakoda youth.


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