Every Student Has a Story: Erika Lipford
Hissing and crackling, flames shot up 20 feet in the air. From the massive bonfire, light danced across the face of junior Erika Lipford as she watched her grandmother’s sofa catch on fire and burn while she roasted marshmallows over top of it like she does every Thanksgiving.
According to Lipford, her Thanksgiving “is filled with amazing food, and then when we get so fat we can’t even move we go set stuff on fire.” Every year they go out to a big open field in Pennsylvania and take a piece of furniture and burn it in a huge bonfire.
“My family is just weird in general. It sounds really weird but we light sofas on fire and it gets to be like 20 feet tall,” Lipford said.
Believe it or not, lighting sofas on fire is not the only unique family tradition or weird invention for her family. “My whole family is made of engineers and we build weird objects, like one year, we built a huge ball that has a person in it like a hamster wheel and rolled it down the mountain. Then we built a huge zip line down in the woods. We’ve built catapults with watermelons to shoot [at each other],” Lipford said.
Although, the watermelon catapults have resulted in some injuries. One year her cousin was hit in the face. “It’s really dangerous, but a ton of fun,” Lipford said.
Another year, her family got a moon bounce the size of a classroom and, putting on helmets, took “these huge foam beating things” or large foam sticks and tried knocking each other off of the platforms.
Her family has also built a skate board that could go up to 30 mph on the grass.
“Just for fun, we just love coming up with problems and solutions to stuff. We’re really weird like that, but we just love creating things that have absolutely no good use for us, but it’s just so much fun,” Lipford said.
According to Lipford, these projects are a big family thing. It includes all of her cousins, uncles, and aunts, not just her own immediate family.
“Family is a huge part of what we have been raised in, and we consider family like best friends, so when we come together we really do come together as a family even if we’ve haven’t seen each other for a year or a month or a day,” Lipford said.
According to Lipford, Christmas is less about presents and more about service. They make care packages, bake cookies for the police officers and the firemen, and work to “get in the community and give back.”
For Easter, they have a “huge Easter egg hunt that usually involved pushing and shoving and kicking.” Also, there is a golden egg hidden with around $100 -200 in it and everyone has to go and find it. The “hiding places are really crazy,” so she still has yet to win.
The egg hunt is mostly centered on adults. In the normal eggs, money and lottery tickets are hidden inside.
Lipford’s New Year’s Eve is “a huge, huge, party with a ton of food.” Sometimes they will have competitions on who can make the best soup or dessert. But, Lipford said, “if it’s a Lipford party, you know there is going to be food.”
“When my grandma died it was a huge blow to the family, because with all of us together we’re kind of a clashing, headstrong and that kind of gets us in trouble with the family. My grandma was the one who brought it all together,” she said.
According to Lipford, one year when they were really having a hard time getting along, one of her aunts suggested that they have a Christmas tree and dedicate it to her grandmother which they have done every single year since. They all make ornaments ever year to put on the tree.
“We all really bond over my Grandma and it’s a really nice experience because it feels like she’s still with us celebrating the holidays. We all make our ornaments based on what we remember of her, our lives, how our school year is doing, how we’re doing, so it’s like we’re telling our story like we were talking to her. It’s just a great experience,” Lipford said.
Although, Lipford said, “I’m sure if she were celebrating the holidays with us, we probably wouldn’t be burning her sofa.”
Lipford and her family take pride in their special holiday traditions and family centered way of life even though they know it’s not the norm for everyone.
“Our family is really weird like we consider this the most fun thing ever.” Lipford said. “We blow stuff up, we set things on fire, we are just a really crazy family.”
Hope Kelly is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.