Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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With Christmas and Thanksgiving fast approaching, I am reminded of good old family traditions. Growing up in Opelousas in the 1950’s & 60’s, we shared major holidays with my cousins and a few close friends. I remember wonderful, long meals with lots of great stories shared around the table and many laughs. A few times, my best friend invited me to his family’s Thanksgiving reunions out in the country at his grandparents’ farm. This was especially exciting to me as we explored the fields and tried to catch his grandpa’s paint horse. We usually never caught it. But as we got older, we finally did and enjoyed our ride. When we were small, we crossed over the fence once into another neighbor’s field and got a bull apparently mad at us because he was chasing us with his horns down. We quickly ran and jumped over the fence. When we shared this story with the adults, they laughed and warned us to never do that again. We also shared many servings of unique cooked items that I was not used to seeing in the big city of Opelousas. These memories will stay with me forever.

Growing up around Christmas time, I remember my dad (a hard working pediatrician who probably averaged five or more house calls everyday) got so many cakes, pies, homemade candy, and other gifts we would pile his stack underneath the Christmas tree. His pile always was bigger than the rest of the family’s put together. I think that must be when I first decided I wanted to be a pediatrician (ha!). I also remember lots of singing and the sound of Christmas music just about everywhere we went. The music, I believe, was my favorite Christmas tradition and we ended up passing that one on to our children as they were growing up. We also passed on a few other Christmas traditions like Christmas Midnight Mass, opening the first Christmas present before going to bed late, and waking up early to open presents on Christmas morning. I remember many times putting toys together all night then lying down in bed. Before my eyes could close, I would hear the kids knocking on the bedroom door saying, “It’s Christmas, wake up!” and rolling out sleepy-eyed in my robe to share their excitement and joy.

As you can see, I utterly recommend you share your own family traditions with your children and embellish them any way you like. I bet you will be surprised to see your children pass on traditions of their own to their kids and on and on.

I recommend sharing your unique family traditions whether it is holidays, for weekends, summer vacation times, or any other special opportunities to celebrate togetherness. The real keyword is share. Any family time shared becomes a special memory not to be taken for granted. We only have our children for about twenty years so enjoy quality time with them as often as you can during those fleeting years. Holidays with family traditions are sort of like “icing on the cake” among family life memories.

Father Chuck Gallagher, a wise New York priest, once said, “Your table is the alter in your house and your shared meals are your communion.” He strongly encouraged eating supper together as a family as many nights as possible and truly making that time “sacred.” That probably sounds a bit heavy, but his advice is good. I am so glad that we followed it with our children.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas plan some special family time. Invite friends and maybe even someone lonely (in need of a family for a holiday) to share your blessings with. You and your children will certainly treasure the memories in years to come and chances are you will make a lot more.