Archived Story

Experiences, not things, make holidays special

Published 5:06pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

QUESTION: What makes holiday gatherings really memorable for children?

ANSWER:   When we think of holiday gatherings we usually think about favorite foods, seasonal decorations and, of course, gifts that are given and received. Those things are all memorable parts of the celebrations; however, I think what we really remember from our childhood are the people who made the celebrating special for us.
Last week I asked some friends, “Who is a person who has made holidays special for you?” The responses were delightful:
A teen-age brother allowed a seven-year-old sister to “hang around” his group of peers while they spent the weeks before the holiday making customized Christmas tree ornaments out of Styrofoam balls covered with beads and sequins to sell to friends and neighbors.
A father on the West Coast who couldn’t afford the desired new bicycles for his daughters arranged to get “gently used” bikes from an extended family member. The bikes wouldn’t fit into the family car, so the father spent the night of Christmas Eve walking to get each bike and riding each one back home, so they’d be under the tree, “shined up like new,” on Christmas morning.
A mom and dad always organized a large group of Christmas carolers, kids and adults, and served everyone chili and hot chocolate after an evening of singing for friends and neighbors.
Someone always played the part of Santa Claus for the younger children, except one year none of the male “regulars” were available.  So, grandma got into the Santa suit and met the need, and did a pretty good job, too, as it was remembered — except that one of the littlest kids in the family was heard to comment, “I think Santa smelled like grandma.” (grandma sold Avon products.)
There was the year that the 15 month old of the family was in his high chair among the family festivities and the traditional holiday meal. Grandma gave him his own piece of lefse, putting it on his high chair tray, next to his plate — and then he picked it up and blew his nose in it.
An only child remembers the happiness of being surrounded by lots and lots of fun cousins at annual holiday gatherings.
A special uncle would arrive after the kids were asleep and it was a joy to wake up in the morning and discover he was there and was ready to play games, read stories and throw snowballs.
Remember that you are that special person for someone, a youngster or a friend, this holiday season.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528.  For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.  Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org


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