The last six weeks of the year are a magical time, here at Boys Town and across our great nation, as families prepare to celebrate that final stretch of holidays, from Thanksgiving, to Hanukkah, to Christmas, to New Year’s Day.
Holidays are special, not only because they commemorate important events or times of the year, but also because they are a way for us to mark time, both chronologically and spiritually, and observe traditions and rituals that give flavor and meaning to our lives.
At Boys Town, we care for many boys and girls who have never enjoyed a bountiful feast on Thanksgiving Day, or opened a special gift on Christmas morning, or welcomed the New Year with hope that things were going to get better. Most come from families that are struggling with some very serious problems, problems that often push the holidays aside so they become nothing more than just another day on the calendar.
But at Boys Town, that changes with our focus on family. We make sure they know the great aromas that fill a house at Thanksgiving when a turkey is in the oven. They get to decorate a Christmas tree, go Christmas shopping and sing carols. On Christmas morning, there are presents under the tree that mean the world to them. And on New Year’s Eve, our kids attend a party with refreshments, games and other fun activities.
Every parent has the responsibility of teaching his or her children about the holidays – whether it’s Easter or the Fourth of July or Veterans’ Day – and why they are so important. And you can also add in the celebrations of birthdays, confirmations, baptisms, graduations and other significant milestones that mark a child’s growth and development, from infancy through adolescence.
Most importantly, celebrating and observing holidays and life milestones is how you teach your children to do the same with their own families when they grow up and have kids. As your children grow, they will come to understand the significance of these events and make them part of who they are.
So throw a party, make a big deal and do something memorable and meaningful for every holiday and every life milestone. Talk to your kids about creating new family traditions or unique ways to celebrate. Say grace together before the family holiday meal and attend religious services to rejoice in faith and fellowship. Then go out and get your family involved in activities – not just during the holidays but all year round – that can make a difference in the lives of people who need someone to care. Stop by to check in on a friend, a neighbor or a relative, join a ministry or a mission effort at your church or start a food drive so those in need can enjoy a holiday meal. The opportunities are endless!
Holidays are warm gifts we all can enjoy. Make your holiday (and milestone) celebrations the gifts your kids will remember and cherish all their lives.