Holiday Message 2015 (Pedcast)

It’s upon us again, the season of excitement and celebration. The holidays.  Our children certainly get into the holidays and why not, all those toys are thrilling for them and for you, their parents. But I contend that all these bikes, toys, and games, that children will be receiving will be inconsequential to them 20 years from now. What will endure in the minds and hearts of your children will be the special place they have in your family and their growing awareness of their family’s unique story.  I believe that children have a strong need to understand how they fit into their family story, where their ancestors came from, how these ancestors lived their lives, and to learn about their family’s cultural roots. Almost every family has inspiring stories of family members overcoming terrible hardships to make a better life for themselves; every family has stories of some of their family members overcoming tough obstacles in their path toward success; every family has family members that exhibited bravery and self sacrifice to help others; and every family has stories of members with exceptional talents who were able to cultivate their unique skills.

Passing down family traditions and pride in the family’s accomplishments to me, is what the holidays are all about. Family gatherings is where stories are exchanged, bonds between family members are strengthened, and the younger members get a chance to learn about the traditions and contributions of their family. During past holidays in my family for instance, I learned that my ancestors came from eastern Europe, from the ghettos of Poland and Russia where conditions were very rough. They immigrated to the U.S. for a better life– and they found it.  Their lives in Europe and Russia were so horrible that they refused to talk about where they had come from or what they had endured. To them, their lives began when they arrived in America. Their dread of the past and their optimism for the future became their life story and mine as well.  I believe their story is the basis of my optimism and my can do attitude.  To this day, I believe that anything is possible with enough hard work, perseverance, and dedication to cause– all passed down to me by people that I have never met but heard about during holiday meals and gatherings. My people were peasants who owned almost nothing but somehow, went on to have children who became shop owners, peddlers, and dress makers, who then in turn had children who became doctors, lawyers, and successful businessmen. To me, that’s a powerful story that profoundly influenced me as a child and help me toward success. I am sure your family has similar tales.

Holidays are a perfect time to tell these stories to your young ones, so this holiday season, don’t miss out on an opportunity to tell some family stories about your family’s unique history. I’ll bet that the children in your clan will be all ears and I’ll bet that if you ask these same children 20 years from now what was important and memorable about the holidays of 2015, it won’t be some new toy or video game they got but rather, it will be something they heard around the dinner table. That is what will stay with them; fond memories of family gatherings, a sense of belonging and acceptance by their family, and pride in those unique and interesting stories about their family that they were told at holiday family gatherings.

This is Doc Smo, hoping that you can now see one more reason, to enjoy a great holiday season. Until next time.