Christmas cookiesWILSON, N.C. – Traditions are a wonderful part of the Christmas season.  They give us something to look forward to, something to remember.  They are centerpieces around which family and friends gather.  In 2003, Barton College’s first lady Susan Kneten established a new tradition and gained new friends during her first Christmas in Wilson.  (Click the image for a photo slideshow.)

“The first year we were here, I was missing my children and grandchildren at Christmas time,” said Kneten, whose family resides in Texas.

Christmas did not seem like Christmas without children in the house, so Kneten invited some over.  Across the street from the Barton-Graves House, the first family’s official residence, Saint Therese Catholic School bustled with children.

“I went to Saint Therese, explained my dilemma, and asked if some of the students could come and decorate cookies with me during the holiday season.”

The elementary school agreed, and Kneten and the Saint Therese fifth-grade class began a Christmas tradition that has continued through the years.  This year fifth-grade teacher Connie Farris brought her class to the Kneten’s home on December 16 to celebrate Christmas and renew this friendship.

The children arrived and presented Kneten “with a gift of an angel that is part of a collection they began for me.”  Then, the decorating began.

“Huddled around the tables in the kitchen and butler’s pantry, the students spent about 45 minutes decorating cookies that had been baked by Lynne Bigness, our College chef,” said Kneten.

Following the cookie decorating, Kneten treated the children to a tour of the historic Barton-Graves House; then the fifth-graders took their cookies back to school to enjoy themselves or to share with others.

“They are wonderfully well-behaved, and I look forward each year to their being with me,” said Kneten.

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Questions? Contact Ken Dozier, web services manager, at 252-399-6596 or email kdozier@barton.edu.