Holidays with the Haas family

Jess Hodge

The holiday season is a time of celebration and happiness, no matter what religion one practices or holiday they celebrate. Families gather around to reflect on the past year, enjoy time together and look forward to the year ahead.

Grand Valley State University’s president Thomas Haas is no exception to maintaining holiday traditions. He spends his time with his wife, Marcia Haas, and their German shepherd, Laker.

One of Tom Haas’ favorite traditions is cooking a special meal on Christmas Eve.

“On Christmas Eve, before we go to church service, we do an anti-pasta salad along with baked ziti,” he said. “We have been doing that for years, ever since Marcia and I were married. I brought that tradition with me because that’s what we did at home when I was growing up, so we (continue) that tradition, even if we were with Marcia’s folks for the holidays.”

And while Tom Haas does the cooking for the main course, Marcia Haas bakes homemade cookies for the holidays, a Christmas favorite for her husband.

“My favorite Christmas cookie is gingersnaps,” Tom Haas said. “My wife makes some really good ones. They’re kind of crunchy around the edges but they’re soft as well, so I love that type of cookie.”

Although the Haas children are grown up with children of their own, they still come to visit their parents over the holidays with Haas’ four granddaughters.

Another tradition carried on through the years in the Haas household involves an old train set. Tom Haas would set up the train when he was a youngster and kept the train for his children. Even though Tom Haas said the train is at least 75 years old, it still works and is a staple tradition in their house.

Other Haas traditions include going to Christmas Eve service at their church and Marcia Haas buying everyone new pajamas to wear to bed Christmas Eve night and to open up presents in on Christmas morning.

However, the holidays aren’t all fun and games for the GVSU president. Tom Haas has a list of a few things he has to do over break. Sitting on Gov. Rick Snyder’s 21st century education commission, Tom Haas has to come up with recommendations for the governor before the end of February.

Additionally, GVSU is still in search of a provost to succeed Gayle Davis. Thomas Haas said the provost search team will be working through the holidays to identify finalists and bring them onto campus some time in January.

Speaking of setting goals and getting things accomplished, Tom Haas has set some of his own New Year’s resolutions for 2017. His number one goal is to get back into his exercise routine.

“I think, and this is something people say time and again, but I really would like to exercise some more, I really do have to generate some time in my schedule,” he said. “I think it’s going to have to happen earlier in the morning and I really do think that will be something I have to just commit myself to.”

Exercising won’t stop him from enjoying freshly ground coffee, though, which is the item at the top of his Christmas list. Other things Tom Haas enjoys is his favorite holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and eggnog.

Thomas and Marcia Haas usually volunteer over the holiday season as well, but have been pressed for time this year with the provost search and education commission taking up much of their time. They do still love spending time together and sharing the happiness of the holidays with their extended family at GVSU.

“I always look forward to (the) freshness of the new year and Marcia and I count all of our blessings and are very thankful for our family,” Tom Haas said. “I know that I feel that my extended family includes all of us here at the university and it’s a great feeling as we look ahead for a new calendar year and the opportunities that we have.”