Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Making the Holidays Special

By Brandi M. Seals

One of my favorite memories from my childhood involves having my hair done. I know that is shocking since most kids run screaming when mom tries to untangle the hairs on her child's head. I hated for my mom to brush my hair - it hurt so badly. It felt like my hair was being ripped out in clumps. It was not, but I still think she could have been a bit gentler on me. However, at Christmas time, I would over look the painful hair combing because I loved what came next. We would decorate my hair.

Things always started with a good brushing, and then my hair was generally pulled up into pig tails. Sometimes it would take two or three tries before the pig tails were nice and straight, but once they were, we were all set. This is when I would get to pick some ribbon. This was not ordinary ribbon generally tied in the hair. It was gift wrapping ribbon.

Most of the time, I chose a combination of colors. Sometimes I had red and green ribbons, other times red and white. It all depended on what I though looked best with my holiday dress.

Mom would take a long piece of ribbon and wrap it around the base of the pig tail. Then we would either curl the large piece or shred it into a bunch of tiny pieces of ribbon. Of course all those little pieces would have to get curled. Then to top the whole thing off, I would pick out some bows. I usually liked white since it played best off my dark hair. The first couple of years, the bows were a little tricky and would sometimes come unstuck from my hair. But, by the time I was 4, we had the process mastered. All it required was the use of two overlapping bobby pins to hold the bows in place all evening long.

I do not know if other people do this sort of thing, I just know it was a tradition in household when I grew up. My sister and I continued gift wrapping our hair until were around the age of 12. Suddenly it seemed very uncool. Now, looking back, I appreciate the experience. It always made me happy and really put me in the Christmas spirit.

Perhaps after reading this, some of you may decide to get your children all gussied up for the holidays. The experience may help your child better identify with the holiday and get in the spirit. Of course other techniques can be used to accomplish the same thing if you preferred to go another route. The real goal is not to get the kids looking all fancy, but rather to make whatever holiday you celebrate a special experience that they will look forward to each year. This is one of the ways we pass our culture and practices on to our children. Without a welcoming experience like this, children are apt to reject some things.

For example, I hate Thanksgiving. I always have. Wait, I take that back, it was tolerable until I was 9. I have never liked turkey, stuffing, or even mashed potatoes. While everyone else gorges themselves on this holiday, I starve. I will eat the cranberry sauce and corn but little else. If there are hors-de-overs I will try to fill up on them, otherwise it is up to the pies to feed me.

I used to tolerate the holiday because I got to see my whole family and we would all hang out together. Around the age of 9, things changed. The food was still bad, but now everyone would fixate on football and I hate football. Not to mention the fact that as a budding feminist, I did not like that the men sat around on their lazy butts without a care in the world while the women worked away in the kitchen all day. What sealed the deal though, was when a shelf fell off the wall at my grandma's house and smacked me in the head. It was at that point that I realized for sure, Thanksgiving was not for me. Perhaps if something had been done to make the holiday exciting for me, I would not reject it outright. Luckily, my husband is on the same page as I am and each year we enjoy our traditional enchiladas on Thanksgiving.

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