The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty — Christmas, Family, and Global Connections, by Delany Babich
Christmas is a beautiful and joyous time for my family, and this year I was lucky enough to spend it with my father’s side. My sister and I don’t get to do this often, so when the time comes around we always count down the days. My father’s side of the family immigrated from Austria, so quite a few of our traditions and recipes come from the home country. My grandmother spends days preparing the feast of traditional Austrian and German foods such as goose, green cabbage and apple sauté and of course plenty of cookies and cakes. It is the tradition to celebrate with everyone on Christmas Eve, so that is when all the fun happens. About forty of our closest relatives pile into my grandmother’s little home, catching up with each other and snacking on homemade dried sausage and cheeses. This is also the time for the older guests to tell their numerous stories of the old country, occasionally talking in German or Czech. I have found these stories fascinating ever since I was a little girl, it seemed like we were worlds apart and intrigued me to always ask more questions than they could answer. Eventually pictures are also brought out, everything from baby pictures to ones they brought overseas with them. The faded photographs mixed with the bright colorful ones of my generation always created a sense of awe and togetherness in the room. It has always amazed me how well the whole family gets along, with half of them growing up here in the US, while the other had to acclimate and learn a whole new way of life. The lessons we have taught each other just created a culturally diverse family and it makes me so happy. Once dinner and finally finished, we all fill out plates to the brim and try and find a spot on the floor to sit, since there are only enough chairs for about half of our guests. We comment on food, how much better it tastes this year than last. We take turns cleaning up after everyone, all while continuing to tell stories and reminisce. The best part comes next, present opening. We have a tradition that only one person can open a present at a time, starting from the youngest guest going all the way to the oldest. This takes a couple hours, but after it is finished every person has a smile on their face and a lap full of gifts. I always look forward to spending Christmas in this environment, it is a wonderful experience and I can not wait to go back again in two years.
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.