Snow is falling outside. I have a warm cup of hot cocoa by my side and am watching the Christmas tree shimmer in our living room. Get ready, because it is Christmas time. Take a second to think about your favorite part of Christmas. Without a doubt, mine are the lights, and of course, the traditions. In my travels, I have been able to see the most wonderful time of the year come to life as Christmas lights make their way onto houses, into yards and shimmer through the windows on Christmas trees. In a few weeks, I will be all smiles as we dive into a Christmas Eve tradition of eating cheesy Lasagna, listening to the Christmas story, pausing to feed calves and coming back to open presents with all 35 members of the Paskewitz family. Throughout the past month, I have been able to celebrate my favorite parts of Christmas as Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
    With my bucket in hand, I walked into a kindergarten classroom in White Bear Lake, Minn. Within no time at all, I had 90 new friends, who all happened to be about 6 years old. After looking at pictures of the farms I call home, we went through some of the simplest items we use on the farm. A milking unit, calf bottle and even silage brightened their smiles and put a twinkle in their eye. They were intrigued by the sheer fact that so much work was put into the yogurt and cheese they love. Just like the Christmas lights I admire, these kids were the light of my week. I hope that upon hearing this story, their excitement for what you do as dairy farmers can brighten your week as well. With each visit I make, I beam with pride, knowing I represent people who bring light to everyone’s lives through dairy.
    While my smile was still fueled by the light these students brought to my journey, I soon found myself behind the podium at Minnesota Farm Bureau’s 100th annual meeting. Here I was able to share traditions that brought myself and dairy to where it is today. Throughout the evening, I celebrated Farm Bureau’s traditions with passionate people, sparking my own reflection in the traditions each of us can be grateful for in dairy. Some of mine include being picked up by Grandpa in his farm truck, “Older Yeller”, and pausing all Christmas activities to do chores before coming back to Grandma’s and resuming the festivities. I am sure each of us can think of those traditions that build who we are. As dairy farmers, we can take this time of year to celebrate the traditions of family, hard work and endurance that have brought us to where we are, while dreaming of new traditions we can form day by day. Take advantage of the time set aside this season to cherish traditions.
    There are a million reasons to love Christmas. Whatever makes this season special for you is something worth sharing. How can you take your favorite part of this season and share it through your lifestyle in dairy this holiday season?
    As we near some of our favorite holiday traditions, be sure to visit Princess Kay on Facebook and Instagram for some of my family’s traditional recipes and join me in sharing holiday stories full of light from your farm.  
    Thanks for sharing this cup of cocoa with me. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to your family, your cows and you.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Rebekka Paskewitz, 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. Rebekka grew up in Browerville, Minn., working on several dairy farms including her uncle’s farms. Rebekka finds joy in sharing the story and future of dairy with others through community outreach and media platforms. She is a junior at South Dakota State University studying Agricultural Education with minors in Animal Science and Social Media. At school she is very involved with the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences Prexy Council, Sigma Alpha Sorority, Little International, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Dairy Club. She also enjoys showing and raising cattle, mentoring youth in 4-H and FFA, road trips, hunting, fishing, tractor pulls, and watching the Vikings with Dad.