When I think back to when I was a child, all of my holiday memories are happy ones. Wonderful meals, Christmas carols playing and family gatherings made for a very special time of year.
One of the traditions that I enjoyed the most was the search for the perfect Christmas tree. My grandparents lived on a 100-acre farm and it was a tradition to go into the forest to hunt for and cut down the perfect tree. The entire family would join – aunts, uncles, cousins – and we’d make a day of it.
Some of the grandkids would ride in the bucket of my grandfather’s tractor and others would be pulled in a sled behind a snowmobile. The cold weather and snow didn’t stop us; in fact it made it even more fun!
After the perfect trees were found, they’d be loaded into the tractor bucket and brought back to the farm house. My grandmother would have hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies waiting for us. Nothing warmed rosy cheeks and cold hands better than Grandma’s treats.
Now that I have my own children, the tradition of cutting down a tree is one that I have carried on. Although we no longer have a family farm, there are several tree farms in our area that offer a great experience. Its lots of fun to hop on the back of a tractor-pulled wagon and go out into the forest and find the perfect (or not-so-perfect) tree that will grace our home for the season. It’s that time of year for my family and I to go out and get our tree and I can hardly wait to make the trip.
What holiday traditions have you carried on since your childhood?
The best and most rewarding part of my job is the work I do with Children’s Miracle Network®, a charity that raises funds for 170 nonprofit children’s hospitals across North America. The Dairy Queen® system has been a partner with Children’s Miracle Network® for over 29 years raising over $91 million in that time for sick and injured children.
Each year I am actively involved in the planning and executing of the DQ® annual Miracle Treat Day activities and other fundraising initiatives throughout the year. I always knew how important fundraising for hospitals was, but it wasn’t until last year when I needed the help of a children’s hospital that it really hit home.
In July 2011, my son, Oliver, was born at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, a Children’s Miracle Network® member hospital. Weighing in at nine pounds, 12 ounces, Oliver was a full-term, seemingly healthy baby, and my husband and I were overjoyed with his arrival. On his third day in the world, we were getting ready to go home when a nurse came into my hospital room without Oliver in tow and told us to sit down. Our baby had an unexplained fever, which is taken very seriously in newborns, and had been taken to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
I felt like the ground had fallen out from under my feet and that my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Overcome with fear, tears spilled down my face and I felt incredibly helpless. Seeing Oliver in an incubator with tubes and wires everywhere was so frightening. All I wanted to do was to hold him and take him home, but I wasn’t allowed to. It was heart-wrenching.
Terms like dehydration, lumbar puncture and intense antibiotic treatment swirled around for the next couple of days and Oliver was cared for by a team of incredible nurses and doctors. I’m very happy to report that after 48 hours of intense round-the-clock care, Oliver was released to us with a clean bill of health. Those two days were the longest and most terrifying of my life, but I was incredibly comforted knowing that he was in the best possible hands.
We were very lucky that our baby boy wasn’t seriously ill. My husband and I saw other tiny babies in the NICU who had been there for days, weeks or even months. I’m sure that some of them never left. After this experience, my work with Children’s Miracle Network has even deeper meaning to me. I hope that we never need the hospital again, but if we do, I am comforted to know that it is there.
For more information or to donate to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, please visit:
U.S.: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®
Canada: Children’s Miracle Network®
Growing up in a small town in Ontario, Canada, there were few choices to go to for great burgers, fries, hot dogs and of course, delicious treats. There was a DQ® location in our town however, and some of my happiest memories are of visiting the restaurant with my family.
Our DQ restaurant wasn’t very big, and it was always packed. I can remember sitting in a booth with my sister to save it while our parents ordered, waiting with anticipation to see what sweet treat we’d get to finish our meal with. Dip Cones and Mr. Misty® slushes (now called Arctic Rush®) were my favourites, while my parents often enjoyed sundaes.
As a teen, my friends and I would visit the DQ location, and by then Blizzard® Treats had been introduced. We often indulged in these tasty treats and had a hard time choosing a favorite flavor. As a young adult, one of my best friends and I would often head to the DQ restaurant for Peanut Buster® Parfaits to lament over our latest heartbreak or to catch up on gossip. They always seemed to make us feel better.
Although there are DQ restaurants in bigger Canadian cities, it seems to really strike a chord with people from small towns. Today, when I mention that I work for Dairy Queen Canada, I always get a smile, curious questions like, “Do you get free treats?” And, most often, stories and memories about their favorite DQ locations.
The DQ system was a big part of my life growing up and I’m very fortunate to be creating happy DQ memories as an adult and have a job that I’m truly happy to go to every day.
What are some of your best DQ memories?