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Keeping Family Traditions Alive With Aflac Holiday Duck

Armstrong family of Hickory Tavern, South Carolina, continues 21-year tradition with the beloved plush duck

Keeping Family Traditions Alive With Aflac Holiday Duck

Armstrong family of Hickory Tavern, South Carolina, continues 21-year tradition with the beloved plush duck

Published 12-02-22

Submitted by Aflac Incorporated

To Nan and John Armstrong, great memories were among life’s most precious treasures. Their 71-year marriage rooted in faith and tradition, they loved family gatherings, and Sundays were reserved for singing in the church choir followed by a home-cooked lunch with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends.

Photo: The Armstrong family celebrates the holiday season with their collection of Aflac Holiday Ducks from years past.

“Every Sunday,” recalled daughter Kim Wallace from her home in Hickory Tavern, South Carolina, a little less than a mile from the house her parents called home. “We’d all stand in a circle, hold hands and my father would say the blessing. He’d always end with ‘now shake a little love’ and we’d all shake the hands we were holding. Our little tradition.”

Holidays held their own special family traditions, she says. When a Christmas shopping trip in 2001 led Nan and John into Macy’s department store in nearby Greenville, they weren’t expecting the small gift they left with to be such a hit. Known for her quick wit and love of fun, Nan was especially excited about their purchase, her daughter remembers.

“They couldn’t wait for us to all give it a squeeze,” Kim said of the Aflac Holiday Duck her parents bought that Christmas. Introduced in 2001 by supplemental insurance company Aflac, the stuffed, collectible plush dressed in different holiday wear each year helps raise funds for pediatric cancer and blood disorders research and treatment. To date, net sales have provided over $3.7 million to hospitals around the U.S.

“My parents were givers,” said Kim. “They loved to give to others, including charities and especially to their family. Combining their compassionate hearts with a fun gift was a win-win for them.”

With each Christmas that followed, Kim and her brother, Keith, their spouses Andy and Robyn, and grandchildren Jason, Heather, Drew and Brad, looked forward to receiving that year’s Aflac Holiday Duck from Nan and John. As each great-grandchild came into the family, so did another Aflac Holiday Duck.

“It was part of Christmas for us, a new memory made every year,” Kim said. “Memories, they mean everything. Especially now.”

On Sept. 22, 2018, John died at the age of 89. Three years later, on April 2, 2021, Nan passed away. She was 94.

As the first holiday without either of their parents approached, Kim worried about how hard it would be to get through. Her thoughts turned to the Aflac Holiday Duck tradition her parents had started almost two decades before. “I knew I had to keep it alive,” she said.

She wasn’t prepared, she admits, for the emotional reaction that accompanied the delivery of 11 Holiday Ducks last year.

“When they arrived and I opened the box and saw them, I just started crying. Seeing these little ducks all of a sudden made me feel like … like my mom and dad were still here.

“I cried, but I was happy,” she said. “And I know they would be happy that their Holiday Duck tradition continued.”

The 2022 Aflac Holiday Duck is available at

Aflac | WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999


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Aflac Incorporated

Aflac Incorporated

Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. When a policyholder or insured gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fairly, promptly and directly to the insured. For more than six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.

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