The holiday season is filled with traditions. Midwest Dairy helped to capture some of these traditions with their Dairy Traditions Instagram photo challenge. I enjoyed sharing my own photos on the Princess Kay Instagram page, including a Christmas tree decorated with cow ornaments and holiday baking with plenty of butter. Many traditions in my family are centered around food. A couple of these Christmas traditions include lutefisk (with plenty of melted butter) and lefse (also with lots of butter). Sometimes, these traditions are special because of the reasons behind them. My family’s Norwegian heritage and love for all things dairy are what make the lefse, lutefisk and butter that goes along with them special to my family and part of our Christmas celebration.
    Other times, traditions are special simply because they are done year after year. This is the case for one of my favorite family traditions – eating ice cream on our oatmeal. Yes, you read that correctly. My family puts ice cream on our oatmeal to cool it down. Because of this, oatmeal quickly became one of my favorite breakfast foods growing up. I mean, how often does your mom let you have ice cream for breakfast? I had no idea why my family started putting ice cream on our oatmeal, or who came up with the tradition, but that didn’t stop me from partaking in it. This was even one of my go to fun facts about myself before I had a 90-pound butter sculpture of my likeness to talk about.
    This fall, I discovered the origin of this tradition while talking to my great aunt, Rachel. In college, Rachel was friends with the then current Princess Kay. This Princess Kay had arrived back from an event one day, and told Rachel how she had served ice cream on oatmeal at the event. Rachel tried it for herself, and decided it was a recipe worth keeping. When she married my great uncle, my grandma’s brother, it soon became a part of my family’s traditions, too.
    I love this story, not only because it involves ice cream and Princess Kay, but also because it shows how what we share with others can make an impression. One of my favorite parts about being Princess Kay is having the opportunity to share my dairy story with others. However, you don’t have to be Princess Kay to talk about dairy. Sharing your favorite dairy tradition on social media, giving tours of your farm or having a conversation about the goodness of dairy in the dairy aisle of the grocery store, are all ways you can help make a positive impression about dairy. Conversations or actions that we may find common or simple may have a huge impact on someone else. For example, the Princess Kay who served the ice cream and oatmeal would not have expected it to become another Princess Kay’s family tradition.
    I am looking forward to continuing to share the story of Minnesota’s dairy farmers throughout the state in the new year. My first few events in January are visiting preschool and elementary school children. I am excited to see their faces when I show them what a calf bottle looks like and answer their enthusiastic questions. In the new year, I hope that you will embrace the opportunities given to share your dairy story and create a positive impression. Maybe some of your dairy traditions will even spark others to start dairy traditions of their own. I hope that 2018 brings you much happiness, new opportunities to share your story and ice cream on your oatmeal.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Emily Annexstad, serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, Princess Kay helps people understand the dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. Princess Kay does many school presentations, represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 events that are held in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, and is very active during June Dairy Month sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods. Emily and her family own and operate a dairy farm in St. Peter, Minnesota. She is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota studying animal science and agricultural communications and marketing. She enjoys reading, playing and watching sports, and showing cattle.