Passed Down


Traditions that Stand the Test of Time

Traditions and roots grow strong in Southern culture, as families honor the legacies of those before them and pass down values to the next generations. From time-honored traditions held for years to new ones they’ve created with chosen family, six locals share how their traditions shape their identities and bring them closer to loved ones.

allison driver with her children

Allison Driver

With her Children, Brooke and Brandon

One tradition that comes to mind is the celebration of family and the birth of Jesus during the holiday season. Growing up, my mother instilled in me the importance of faith, family, and spending quality time together. Our celebrations over the years have always been centered around the holiday tree. There is something magical about the illumination of the lights, the ornaments that represent something unique about our personalities, and the star at the top of the tree shining bright that creates a beautiful atmosphere of delight! Holidays are about creating experiences and taking the time to be truly present with the individuals you love and cherish the most.

I am grateful for the celebrations I have shared with my family over the years during the holiday season and beyond. I look forward to remaining rooted in my faith while creating and cherishing many more sweet moments with those I love the most in the years to come!

kari pollard with her daughter and mother

Kari Pollard

With her Daughter, Emmons, and her Mom, Marilyn

Family is such an important part of our lives. It surrounds us with so much love and support to help guide us when life gets hard.  My family is the most important aspect of my life, especially after the sudden loss of my father a little over 20 years ago. And I believe the healthiest we can live, mentally and physically, the longer we will be around to spend time with our families, making memories.

Growing up, I always remember my mom being health conscious.  As a little girl, I would watch her doing Jane Fonda workouts while watching her soap operas, or load me on the back of her bike in the baby seat and my brother and my sister on their bikes and ride us around the neighborhood. A lot of those times my mom would put me in a stroller, a 1983 stroller, and run us around while she got her jog in. And while my dad wasn’t on deployment in the Navy, he would jog with her as well. My dad loved our family so much. He truly was such a loving man. And with the loss of my dad, I even more proactively try to live as healthy as I can, for myself and my daughters.

Coming full circle, I now have become a passionate yoga teacher at Yoga Landing and love to share my practice with my family and our yoga communities here in Chattanooga. My mom is my biggest supporter, along with the rest of my family who I am forever grateful for. 

I pray that, with the healthy habits that were passed down to me as a child, I will be able to share those with my girls and live healthy and happy lives for as long as we can.

mikayla knight and the merrell family

Mikayla Knight

With The Merrell Family

My grandmother Peggy Jo Merrell Sadler was one of eight children, all residing in a one-room home in Beersheba Springs, Tennessee. Every fall, all the descendants of the eight Merrells (about 40 of us) will make the trek up to “the old home place” for a weekend to enjoy the Beersheba Springs Craft Fair and family company. We have a strict schedule of hiking The Stone Door, four-wheeling on my grandmother’s old property, and a late night football game in the yard of our lodge. Although my grandmother and most of her siblings have gone on to their great reward, it’s so special to be able to remember them together.

sierra wagoner with her family

Sierra Wagoner

With her Family

I have a giant family! For some people that might cause anxiety, but if you met me you’d know my life motto is “the more the merrier,” which stems from how my family operates.

Both of my parents are one of five siblings, so my cousins are plentiful, and I grew up with SO many built-in best friends. A tradition I’ve always loved that’s been passed through my family for years is simple but very important – we always show up no matter what, and when we do we show up as a crowd. It’s not just Christmas or Thanksgiving. It’s every birthday, basketball game, choir concert, or baptism.

Sitting in the stands of whatever activity I decide to take on are rows and rows of my cousins (first, second, and third), aunts, uncles, and grandparents. My family is scattered throughout Middle Tennessee but you can bet Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. many of them virtually travel to East Tennessee and tune in to The Daily Refresh – the support never stops.

My cousins are now married and starting their own families, but as they start their own family traditions, they cling tight to ours. Because where we prioritize our time makes us who we are, I will cling tight to the tradition of showing up and investing in my family. I’ll forever be thankful and cherish these built-in friends.

kris hacker with her family

Kris Hacker

With her Family

My family has taught me the value of having faith in God and never giving up. I noticed at a young age that my grandparents and parents had a strong presence and were leaders and entrepreneurs in their community. My grandmother was a part of the first black RN graduate program, my grandfather was a U.S. Veteran serving in the Korean War and he worked as a detective for the Chattanooga Police Department, and my maternal grandmother owned a daycare center. My parents, Sully and Valarie Batts also worked their way up over the years to leading roles in their professions. They instilled the value of hard work in my brother and me at a young age – physically and mentally.

Donya, my brother, is on his to way completing his master’s degree in engineering. Our parents taught us if we started a task, we had to finish it. I am proud to share their accomplishments with my children, nieces, and nephew. It takes keeping faith in God, determination, and strength to make it. These are the same values my husband and I are working to instill into our children as we lead by example. They’ve been able to watch the growth of Hacker Medias from 2013 to now. They are now seeing my husband, Sean, grow his company Hackletes for youth conditioning and training. I’m excited, and I can’t wait to see what our fourth generation does when it’s time for them to take the torch. From what we’ve seen so far, these little ones are all leaders and ready to take over in their respective fields.

joanne beckman with her family

Joanne Beckman

With her Family

My favorite family tradition is our summer vacation. My mother and father bought a timeshare week on Hilton Head Island back when we kids were still living at home. The six of us, my parents, three brothers, and me, went every year at the same time.

Eventually, my parents purchased another unit for the same week as we brought friends with us and then spouses. As the family expanded with grandchildren and later great-grandchildren, my parents bought additional units for that same week.

When my parents passed away, they had four units, one of which they left to each of my brothers and me. Three of us have since purchased another three units to hold our ever increasing broods. We now have seven condos in the same building on the beach, and the family has grown to 28 plus friends.

The beauty of this tradition is that we all know when and where we will be together each year. Almost all of us make it every year unless work or school interferes. All the ages have fun spending time together and it has enabled the cousins to develop relationships even though they are spread from Louisiana to Massachusetts. We all eat dinner together most nights, taking turns cooking. It is truly like a second home to us. So here we are, 45 years since the tradition began and it is still the high point of my year!

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