(If you like Judy's column, click here to check out the rest of Judy's columns, and well as those by others.)
By: Judy Lyden
Whether you are reading this on or after Halloween, it’s good to know that holidays that come in the late part of the year really count with children, and parents are the best people to introduce children to these holidays.
Halloween – It’s only the first holiday in a long string that seem to light the inner fires of children from Labor Day through New Years. But that’s OK, because we’ve finished with summer, and we’ve finished with getting school started, and now it’s time for a change, weather, décor, routines, and even natural lighting.
Halloween is a marvelous holiday for kids simply because it’s pure child. It’s make believe, it’s posturing, it’s trying on a bit of the inner self in a public show. Kids love to dress up. They love to pretend, and that’s what Halloween has become.
There are a lot of people out there who associate Halloween with negative things, and that’s a shame because Halloween was never intended to seduce children or adults into occult participation. A very good history site on Halloween can be seen at http://wilstar.com/holidays/hallown.htm.
A good way of viewing the whole picture of the holidays upon us – especially for children – age three, four and even as late as five or six, as a time to exploring himself for the inner man or woman.
As boys try on that long suave coat, that swashbuckling sword, that sophisticated mustache, he’s really looking out from under sheepish lashes to see what the response is from those who say they love him.
This is the time when parents need to compliment him by saying that he is a marvelous child, a special wonderful addition to their lives, and his costume suits him. He’s a very young man and you are so very proud of him.
It’s the same for girls. When they dress up as someone they think is beautiful, charming, lovely, they want their parents to say that they are. The beautiful lacy dress, the ribbons and bows, the pretty dainty shoes and of course, the crown are only the invitation to those remarks that can make or break a young heart. "You are the most beautiful young woman I ever saw." It’s best, of course, if it comes from daddy.
Parents who never compliment a child or tell a child they are proud of him or her miss the boat entirely. A failed Halloween where the princess is just another part of the work list and the knight is just in the way is a detriment to the next holiday, Thanksgiving.
As we have explored self in Halloween, Thanksgiving is a time when children can explore what it means to be in a family. If Halloween is a disaster, or a time when we just couldn’t get it together, is that what they will think about their part in the family?
Children who are neglected often think they are a whole family’s last thought. "I hardly belong, I don’t really matter." Growing up as the last thing on everyone’s agenda will make a child think that he’s the most unimportant person alive, and they will live that way all their lives.
Planning a child into any holiday is important. At Thanksgiving, give each child a task he or she can do year in and year out; it helps provide a place for him or her. Making a special effort to let a child serve a part of the meal, or help with grace, or help with the table allows a small child to participate IN the family and to give him a sense of belonging.
Once we’ve looked at self and understand where we belong in our families, we can take all of this to the Crèche – to God. Christmas is the time when children understand how they are part of the whole world.