Homemade for the Holidays

Homemade for the Holidays

A View from My Window: Reflections of the Executive Director

This year I decided to spruce up my office for the holidays. So in early December, I draped an eight-foot paper chain around a painting on the wall. The rings were cut from store catalogs; my partner, Susanne, quietly pieced them together on Thanksgiving.

The colorful chain proved wonderfully evocative. It hadn’t been in place five minutes when a colleague noticed—and launched into a whimsical reverie about the holidays of her youth.

As a child, Alisha (one of our Family Support and Intake Specialists) strung chains of popcorn and cranberries, or pine cones, or slices of fresh orange. The pine cones, she noted, required baking—to eliminate unwanted insects and allergens.

Holiday meals hold similar allure. My daughters associate both Christmas and Easter with homemade cinnamon buns. Whenever my eldest visits from Los Angeles, I have to bake for the entire family (which now includes four grandchildren). Since her visits are so infrequent, we count each as a holiday—no matter the time of year.

In an age of unrestrained extravagance, I’m comforted by the reminder that the simplest pleasures remain the most memorable. Pleasures tied not to what we own, but to what we hold dear. Pleasures rooted in home, family, and love.

Unfortunately, such comfort can be eroded by abuse and neglect—experiences children prefer not to remember, and which, untreated, have life-long consequences.

That’s just one of many reasons our work at Children’s Center is so critical—especially this time of year, when traditions tend to be more conspicuous and memories so visceral.

Obviously, we’d prefer a world in which abuse and neglect never occur. But early intervention is the next best thing. And research suggests that, with detection and treatment, children can overcome the effects of trauma and lead normal, healthy lives.

The holidays don’t have to be expensive. Obviously, some of the most inexpensive, homemade elements are the most enduring.

I like to think that what we’re doing here is expediting the possibility of homemade holidays for children and families who need help getting there. In so doing, I hope we’re also planting the seeds for fond memories down the road.