Even when the holidays arrive, it can be difficult to switch off the busy lifestyle that we’ve all become so used to. How do we learn to slow down, and really experience this special time of year?
I’m a firm believer in the power of poetry and prose, read aloud, to change the rhythm of our interactions with the children we teach, as well as the kids we live with. Good writing comes with its own built-in rhythm, and it just doesn’t work if you rush it. If you’re looking for a way to bring some of that holiday spirit into your world, and you’re not quite sure where to start, then look up some of these great resources. Take a few moments – heck, take a few hours! – and open up a classic holiday poem, or a short story.
Whether you’re sharing with little children who want you to repeat the funniest lines over and over again, or with older kids who can take turns being the ‘storyteller’, reading portions out loud, you’ll find your day has slowed down, and some of the magic of the holidays has come alive.
I was nine years old when my family went water-skiing every day for an entire summer. We’d get up early, fix enough sandwiches to fill the cooler, and head for the lake in our midnight blue 1967 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, ski-boat in tow. On the best days, we would arrive before the wind had kicked up, when the lake was still a glassy calm.
Somehow, my dad’s job with a heating and air conditioning company allowed him to work mainly in the spring and fall. With summers free, my parents took us to the lake every day; me and my two brothers, Hap and Danny, and our friend Jimmy. Hap was the one with the crew-cut. Danny looked just like me, only more devious. We were all skinny, tanned, and a little too wild.
This was 1971, and the car had only an AM radio. No FM, no 8-track player, and certainly no DVDs or video games. A trip to the lake meant over an hour in the car each way, along winding mountain roads where the AM radio was useless, there weren’t enough other cars to play “slug bug,” and thumb wrestling got old in a hurry. Eventually–as four boys will do when stuck in the back seat of a car for an hour or two–we would begin to fight. It always started innocently enough with a “Quit touching me,” or a “Hey, that’s mine,” but would quickly erupt into a full-blown wrestling match on the floor of the car. Did I mention we also didn’t have seat belts?