Grandma, Mom & Me

gma and me

Holiday Traditions

I feel fortunate to have grown up around informed, opinionated women. Hear it straight from three generations: me— Mariah Mihm, 39; my mom, Debi Neville, 63; and my grandma, Verna Kraft, 87. 

Me: The holidays are coming up fast! I’m looking forward to my wild rice stuffing and the smoked turkey wild rice soup I make. Food is important to any holiday.


Grandma: Food was always homemade on holidays. Everything was closed. There were not options to eat out or have the meal catered on the holidays. 

Mom: Growing up, I don’t remember having a lot of people at our house or doing much travel, probably because it was much more difficult to go places in the winter than it is now. 

Grandma: My mom had all my brothers and sisters over for Thanksgiving. Everyone brought food. Most of the time, we had ham or roast beef. Turkey was only available at Thanksgiving, not year-round like it is now. We did not have much money. My family did not celebrate Christmas. I never got presents from my parents—a few, maybe, from my older brothers and sisters. We gave the kids five gifts, always new pajamas and slippers. 

Me: I saw Christmas decorations out in some stores in August. Ridiculous. Life is going by so fast. Let me enjoy the season it is now. By the time Christmas rolls around, I am exhausted, and my brain is fried on the holidays. It has taken the joy out of it for me. 

Grandma: Holidays were not a big production like they are now. There were not parties to go to and no big meals. We celebrated simply and with the immediate family at home, especially at Christmas. 

Mom: Now, we try to get the extended family together. Mom (Verna) is the matriarch. People are spread out, so it’s important to get together when we can. Family is important to us all.

Me: I have always looked forward to the get-togethers. Our family enjoys being together, and we have a good time. Now, I get to share that joy with my son. We usually play a game or two, and we always laugh! Remember when mom and I were banned from being on the same Pictionary team? Too much mental telepathy going on, I think. We kicked butt together! 

Grandma: I do remember. Now we play Catch Phrase a lot–guys on one team and gals on the other. 

Mom: You are good and always willing to do what you have to to get the win. 

Me: I can’t stop laughing. I know exactly what incident you are referring to! That was legend. I tell people time and time again that my Grandma is one hip woman! Mom: The games bring the generations together. Even the great-grands are starting to get involved, and it’s something we can all do. 

Grandma: For me, it’s about the memories. It’s gotten out of hand, and I think this generation is realizing it. Simplification is starting to come back en vogue. Me: We had to go around in a circle and open one gift at a time. We were not allowed to tear into things. People spend a lot of time and energy looking for the right present. I think it is important for the little ones to see there is joy in giving, too, not just in the getting of presents. I’m always astounded by my son’s patience, and he has a good time in the process. 

Mom: He gets the joy of experiencing Papa open every gift as slow as possible.