Friday, November 5, 2010

Christmas in November

"Do you want to take your DS or something else to do," I asked my oldest granddaughter in regards to the first Christmas party of the season.

"No, we'll be busy talking to people," the eleven-year-old replied.

Hm.

My son and his lovely wife are having the first party of the holiday season, a party whose roots began four years ago as "Christmas in November". This event began in a motel room with the cast and crew of the National Tour of Evita. The next year the party was held in NYC where they were living at the time. Last year the party made it to Oregon where friends and family from the west side could attend. Tomorrow night the party will be in the little yellow house.

My granddaughter's comment surprises me. Last year the girls entertained themselves. I didn't notice interaction with other guests. It happened when I wasn't watching. In reflection, I remember that the girls didn't want to leave the party. We had stayed for hours at the all day open house watching guests come and go. A guest list of mostly adults didn't bore the girls. They were attending a party consisting of mostly adult. Adults who were mostly strangers to the girls.

Children like to be accepted by adults. When an adult notices them, they bloom. Adults who give them not only recognition but also an honest interest in the child encourages self-confidence. Family adults can give them special strokes, but when someone recognizes the child beyond that nest, a new light turns on.

When working with kids at risk, I found them to be hungry for that recognition. Many of these children did not get this attention at home. Many of these children had low self esteem. I wasn't anyone special, but I did listen. The more I listened, the more the kids sought me out. Eye to eye contact, that focus on that single child was feeding a hunger. I often thought I should have had a sign over the office door that read 'MOM'.

The girls love the little yellow house. It represents family, a future that will some day be a past, a yard in which to play and discover, another nest in which they will grow. In a sense, they consider it their home, too.

Sometimes we live life so fast that we miss the treasures that come in a mere comment. We are going to the first party of the season in that little yellow house, a place that bound a family through yard work, paint and putty. A house that was transformed from bordering on derelict will be full of life and  Christmas fun. Those who are strangers to one another will leave as friends. Two young girls will be embraced in an atmosphere of friendship and love. They will be embraced by adults who take an interest in them. Those who will ask and listen. Those who unknowingly will give these girls a better self image. Christmas will come early in Oregon tomorrow night.

"Grammy, can we stay for the whole party?" Sydney asked.

Oh, sweet granddaughter, of course we will.

A thank you to About.com and Susan Adcox for posting my story on generations living together. Check it out at: http://grandparents.about.com/u/sty/grandparentingissues/SharingHousing/Three-Generations-One-House-Challenges-and-Rewards.htm

2 comments:

  1. And thanks to you for your contributions to my website! I love the idea of Christmas in November. And you are so right about kids needing personalized attention. When I was working the election on Tuesday, I got to hold two little ones while their parents voted. I walked around the (mostly bare) room and showed them things and talked to them. When their parents had finished voting, they clung to me and cried!

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  2. Susan, you and I really need to meet up. Tonight was the party. I ended up playing with little ones and at one point bouncing down the stairs on my backside with a little girl who was terribly bored. I think maybe I had the best time of all. BTW, Sydney and Gabby were great.

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