Are we losing touch with

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

what holidays are about?

Each year when the holidays arrive, I seem to feel a little less excited than I was the year before.

That isn’t to say that holidays don’t mean much to me – it is quite the opposite. What seems to stick out in my mind about Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular is that the older my daughter gets, the less sense I seem to be able to make of them.

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It seems that my parents tried to instill in me ideas about what those events meant on a large scale, versus the smaller picture that seems to be so abundant in young children. Maybe most people my age really had no idea about the big picture. Maybe I didn’t. But it seems as if I did from what little I seem to be able to recall.

At a young age, I knew that Christmas represented the birth of Jesus and that many pagan rituals had been merged with this idea to give us the Christmas we know.

I knew about Pilgrims and ships well before I started school. I was fascinated with the sea and would ask where the Pilgrims came from and how they got here. "They sailed across the big water for lots of days," my mother would tell me. "They wanted to be able to go to whatever church they wanted to go to."

I remember her telling me about the church and I wondered why their king made them all go to the same one. I thought about how big that church must have been and I remember asking how long it took some of them to get to church, based on my trips to see my grandmother.

"They must have had to ride a whole day to get to church," I once told my mother.

Though my ideas were a little skewed, they were correct in theory. As I trip over toy baskets and clean up thousands of pieces of this and that left behind by my wonderful daughter, I wonder if we are teaching her the right lesson about holidays.

"I want that," she says during every commercial break on the children’s television channels. "Daddy, Santa is going to bring me that for Christmas."

This week it has been, "When is GrandSally going to be here? Is she going to bring me a prize?"

I have a feeling I am not alone on this one. Perhaps as parents, we have let our children lose touch with reality. Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t about toys, prizes and having relatives come and visit who will bow to your child’s every whim.

But how can we teach that? I fear my wife and I have crossed the point of no return. Maybe it’s the plight of the working parents whose children are raised by television. I can’t say for sure where we went wrong, but I have a feeling there are others out there.

Maybe instead of television, we should plop our kids down in front of books on tape. Maybe then they could learn about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Though the idea isn’t a half-bad one, I wonder what kind of pickle we’re in when we use communication devices to raise our children for us. Maybe Ike’s America was all it was cracked up to be.

Brian Blackley is the managing editor of The Messenger. He may be reached via e-mail at or by calling 670-6314.

Nov. 23, 1999 11 PM