Tradition. The word gives me warm and fuzzy feelings as I reminisce about my childhood and remember the many things that took place. The things that made me the woman that I am today and the values that were instilled in me, values that I am proud to hold and privileged to share with my daughter. Traditions matter because they help us build character, build bonds, and make memories that last a lifetime and if we are lucky, have reach beyond our time.
Tradition, it all starts during childhood and mine was amazing. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time but now that I am an adult, married, and have a little one of my own, I am able to say, without hesitation, that it was amazing and so were my parents.
One of the things that I learned at a young age was being thankful; grateful for what we had. You see, for many years our family struggled with money. In fact, there were times when my parents found it difficult to put food on the table and keep the heat on. I don’t remember exactly when or how but at some point things settled down and balanced out and then we were just “okay.” We were never rich by any stretch of the imagination but my parents were able to breathe a little easier when the bills arrived. The funny thing, I don’t remember ever doing without. I don’t recall a time when I ever felt slighted as though we had less. I remember that there were times when it felt as though all mom and dad did was work but that’s different. What I do know is mom and dad worked their butts off to give us everything that they could. I also know that they dedicated every waking moment to us. I remember a family full of love, friends that were around so long and so often that they became family, and experiences that stuck with me through the years.
Another tradition that was established early on was the importance of being charitable. Once things settled down in our home, mom and dad focused on giving back; they focused on extending a helping hand to others in need. We helped out in the community, mom and dad chaired food and clothing drives, we volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House once a week, and from time to time we even worked at the soup kitchen downtown; especially around the holidays.
Our family vehicle was a white economy van. Do you remember them? No frills, bench seats in the back, and a lot of space. Yeah, they weren’t sporty or “sexy” but they got the job done and every winter, they were part of the annual food and clothing drive that mom and dad helped organize in our area. The weekend before Christmas we would drive around and pick up donations from different homes. There were a few families that would drive around picking up goods and then we would all meet back at our house for some holiday cheer and sorting. Back then, in the 1980s, the holiday “cheer” was a lot different than what many of us are accustomed to today. Remember Bourbon Slush? This was a big thing around the holidays in our area. There was soda for the kids and always Cheese Ball, Spinach Dip, and pretzels and chips. As a treat, dad would break out a special box that he picked up from Hickory Farms that was filled with Summer Sausage, cheese, mustard, and crackers. The Christmas music would go on, food was enjoyed, laughter was shared, and all of the donations were sorted to be dropped off on our way to the soup kitchen. It was small and some may find it strange but it was our idea of a party and it was fun. It was a tradition. When I think of Hickory Farms, I automatically think of Christmas, my childhood, and charity. It too is part of our tradition.
Unfortunately, my father passed away when I was a teenager and some of the traditions faded away but the seed was already planted! There were things that stayed with me, things that I knew I wanted to share if I was ever lucky enough to have a family, and thankfully, I was. Although I’m no longer a little girl and things have changed a great deal, I am still thankful for all that I have. I still enjoy giving back and my family has become a part of this tradition. We don’t volunteer at Ronald McDonald House and we don’t work at the soup kitchen, but we donate to food and clothing drives; just on a much smaller scale. This never felt as though we were doing enough.
For years I longed to do more but found it simply impossible, thankfully, that all changed a couple of years ago. First, I learned how to coupon and started picking up items that I could purchase for pennies or gather for free and we started a donation stash. Through the couponing websites I also picked up tidbits on frugal living and shopping tips. Now, our family takes advantage of “bag sales” that a local secondhand children’s clothing store holds four times a year. We are able to purchase a bag of clothing, as much as we can stuff into a provided bag, for $15. Luckily, this is something that I am able to reconcile with my bank account. So, four times a year, I pick up a $15 bag and spend $60 on necessities for little ones that are less fortunate. At the same time, I also shop for my daughter which helps our personal budget. I also keep an eye out for dollar days that are held at the secondhand store in December or January. This is seriously my favorite! Our family pulls money together and I go to the store, accompanied by a helper, and we pick up children’s coats, in different sizes, for a dollar. Last year we picked up a number of coats for little ones in our area which was amazing. This year, we plan on doing the same.
Anytime we make a donation there is gathering and preparation that is necessary before delivery so we have a little gather and celebrate. Around Christmas, we are sure to uphold dad’s tradition and bring Hickory Farms into the fold. Have you checked out Hickory Farms lately? They offer a wide variety of products; a selection that has grown a great deal since I was a child. What I love about Hickory Farms is that even though the product line has grown over the years, the quality and value remains the same. That is why I wasn’t surprised to learn that Hickory Farms Signature Summer Sausage was awarded the Masters of Taste Gold Medal for Superior Taste for having the #1 Summer Sausage in America. The cool thing about the growth of the product line is that we now can add fun new flavors to our gathering like White & Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark*.
I think what is even cooler is that recently I learned about how important charitable giving is to Hickory Farms. Did you know that Hickory Farms is a proud supporter of No Kid Hungry®? No Kid Hungry is working to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day. Hickory Farms has contributed more than $4 million to No Kid Hungry since 2008. In support of their efforts, for every Signature Party Planner purchased this holiday season, Hickory Farms will donate $5 to No Kid Hungry.
They also support the U.S. Armed Forces and as the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, that warms my heart. Hickory Farms provides year round complimentary shipping on select products to military addresses across the globe to ensure families can send loved ones warm wishes and a favorite taste from home.
We invite you to visit www.hickoryfarms.com for details about the variety of products that they offer, something for every budget, and start building a new tradition in your home.
* White & Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark is a custom blend of creamy white chocolate and dark chocolate made from West African Cocoa beans, hand swirled with pure mint and topped with crushed candy cane pieces.
WHERE TO BUY!
Hickory Farms’ food gifts are available at Holiday Market locations nationwide, on hickoryfarms.com, and leading retailers!
Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms.