The holiday season is a beautiful tapestry of joy and connection; it is a time when families gather to savor delightful meals, reconnect with loved ones, and weave enduring memories. A cherished part of my family’s holiday traditions involves the making and sharing of t’anta wawa—a specially-crafted sweet bread. Growing up, I can still vividly recall the sweet smell of baking bread and incense on Todos los Santos, as we gathered together to create the bread and share it with the individuals who had touched our lives that year. From our godmothers and teachers to the friendly store owners or the neighbors next door, the recipients varied widely.
What lingers from those holiday moments is not just the act itself, but the contemplation on to whom we show our gratitude, and the pride we felt in presenting this bread, meticulously crafted by our own hands. Witnessing the joy on the recipient’s faces left an enduring impact on me and shaped my perception of the holidays. It reinforced the belief that these moments are opportunities for self-reflection, time to appreciate the goodness in others, and the chance to give back and share joy with our community.
Beyond festivities, the holiday season presents a wonderful environment for our children to learn and amplify their knowledge and understanding of the world. Dr. Montessori profoundly believed in the potential of children as the hope and promise of humanity. She emphasized the transformative power of education, and the holiday season becomes our canvas for nurturing and shaping young minds and providing families with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of empathy, gratitude, and community.
At Aidan, we seek to cultivate empathy and respect within our community. In our Young Children’s Community and throughout the school, we model compassion and gratitude at every opportunity. Children are keen observers, constantly searching for cues to better understand the social norms within their circle. One of the ways we demonstrate care for others is through acts of kindness, and as we enter the season of giving, the holidays are a great time to practice and nurture these values at home.
There are many ways to practice gratitude, empathy, and compassion with your child both at home and within the community. A great place to start is by exploring the needs of your own home and family before expanding to neighbors and the greater community. One way this is put into practice in the classroom is the preparation of snacks. The children collaboratively engage in tasks like food preparation, table setting, and cleaning, or creating flower arrangements, all to show care to our community. You can bring this same idea home by working with your child to prepare a family meal or dish. Other opportunities include putting together care packages for those in need, making a card or picture to brighten someone’s day, raking leaves, or shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor—the sky is truly the limit when it comes to acts of kindness and expressions of gratitude.
No matter what you choose, these moments are great for building meaningful experiences and forging stronger connections with your child. They allow your child to witness the impact of their actions firsthand, and demonstrate how even the smallest of gestures can truly brighten someone’s day. In a world fraught with change and uncertainty, empowering our children to do good and to make an impact in their communities can make all the difference.
Sassafras Lead Teacher