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Taking care of kids' holiday spirits

Think about what you're teaching them as you gather around the tree

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Ghosts for the holidays

Now I don't want to put a damper on the holidays. Folks are particularly sensitive about traditions and memories at this time of year. Maybe it has always been so, even when we gathered in clans in dark pagan dwellings, praying for a rebirth of the sun at the cold solstice. Even before we organized our faith traditions we humans huddled together at this dim time of year and realized we were all we had. We tried to find meaning in our bonds to each other.

But our families come apart. Divorces, remarriages, blendings, sad memories, and broken hearts become more poignant now as we make plans for family gatherings. The old divisions open like cracks that break across the ice. Out come the ghosts of holidays past.

I think about this stuff because I take care of a lot of kids with injured, sometimes healing families. These kids are in the business of creating their childhood memories about this time of year. Decisions get made about how much time to spend at Dad's and Mom's, about feelings of loyalty, about who to include, or not. These decisions affect our kids. They even hurt. Our kids are watching us. How warmly we soften our sharp divisions, join again despite old hurts, forgive, and love will provide the fabric for our children's early holiday memories.

No. I don't intend to put a damper on the holidays, as we huddle here in the dark. I mean to make sure our children know that the traditions and memories are warm and cozy. Friendly ghosts.

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