With the end of another year approaching, I wanted to share a special annual happening from my family. You may even consider giving it a try. It was my wife’s idea, and it’s become a time-honored tradition that my children have become fond of.
Each New Year’s Day, we celebrate a new start with a look back at old memories. These particular memories are extra special to us. The memories are stored on multi-colored, 3×5-inch index cards. Each word is handwritten, and certainly reflects how each of us has changed with our penmanship throughout the year. (Yes, even a doctor’s handwriting is legible enough to record these moments!)
These cards fit in a plastic box labeled simply “The Laugh Box.” Nothing fancy about the box, and in fact some of the letters from the word “laugh” are fading on our box. You can decorate it in any way you like. Throughout the prior year, we will record special funny moments of any nature, making certain we write them down at the time they happen, lest we will forget many details. Often times it’s a funny “one-liner” or a classic expression that frames the memory.
My kids have grown with this tradition and now remind their mother or me to get a card out “so we can put that one in the laugh box.” When we sit down after our New Years Day dinner, we prepare to remember each moment and most certainly laugh and reminisce about how all the moments unfolded. Those words help create an everlasting memory. Each person takes a turn reading the description and developing the scene. A lot of “Oh, I remember that!” or “That was so funny!” comments erupt from the audience, and the air fills with laughter and smiles.
These memories are positive moments and children will learn better and remember more often these positive reflections than negative ones. Certainly a stronger bond can develop from these close moments. This tradition also reminds me how precious these moments are with my children each day. Our children will grow up someday and leave to make their own dreams come true, and perhaps to start their own traditions with their own families. I hope that they continue this tradition with their families, as I hope you may do the same.
My daughter recently caused me to take a step back and reflect on a blessing I sometimes take for granted. It’s a three-letter word — a single syllable, pronounced with soft sounds but representing a powerful action. Strength is not necessary tomake it happen. It can mend broken things and bring greetings of happiness and honor. Most importantly, it can be a symbolic action of love and respect. My kids often ask for one, and I am more than happy to oblige.
It’s simply, a hug.
Now, hugs can be of all different types. My kids like to change it up. There is “the running start from the other end of the house before fearlessly launching into full flight to be caught” hug. There is the “jump off of furniture or stairs” hug. There’s the hug of regret for doing something wrong that can melt the armor parents use to protect an act of discipline. There’s the “middle of the night” hug because of a bad dream. My oldest child now gives the brief “Hey, Dad it’s not cool in front of others” hug. But no matter what type of hug is given or received, the meaning behind them is their most significant attribute.
Hugs mean a lot to kids, and parents should oblige them. My kids remind me of how precious these moments can be. Don’t overlook them. Don’t shorten them. Make sure you mean them, because someday these hugs will be few and far between, and mostly in memories. Children must grow up someday and move out from under the wings of their parents.
As a father of three children, I often tell parents in the office that parenting is adapting for the rest of your life. Adapt as you must, but don’t forget to give and take memories, laughs, and hugs from your children.
Dr. Lucas Godinez, a Kids Plus Doc since 2004, is a shareholder in the practice.