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November 22, 2006

Give children the gift of memories

Univ. of Illinois

It can be difficult to decide what to give children for birthdays, holidays, or other occasions during the year. Children seem to have so many toys, gadgets and other belongings. The gift of your time and the sense of history and family might be the best gifts of all.

Grandparents, friends and neighbors who have more free time than parents to spend with children can plan a few hours for carving a pumpkin, decorating cookies, bird watching, coloring eggs, or teaching a special skill. Both generations benefit from the time spent together.

Throughout the year, give children the "roots" they seek. Children love to hear about what you did when you were their age. Put together a book of photographs showing what life was like when you were young. Captions with the pictures help the children remember what is being shown and who are in the photos. Talk to them about how things are the same and different then and today. Also note the differences in hair styles, clothing, home décor, cars, etc. If the children live a distance away, send them the book you made. Sharing your stories makes you feel good too.

If you don't have many pictures of yourself, make a scrap book or album of their parents and aunts and uncles as youngsters. Children also enjoy hearing stories and seeing pictures of their family members before they were grownups.

Storytelling is good any time of the year. Describe to the children what special occasions were like when you or your children were little. Write the stories or record them. The children are likely to recall what you said and the message can be a positive influence in their lives as they grow and develop.

Family traditions should be passed on to the next generations with the stories that go along with them. Did some of them begin generations ago? Do you have any objects that have a special story? If you don't have any traditions that you can think of, now is the time to create some. Children look forward to doing something unique during a holiday or celebration.

So often children can't remember what "things" they received as gifts, but they will remember the time you spent with them teaching and talking and showing them that they are special. If you don't have a child in your life, borrow one from another family you know.

Source: Cammy Seguin, Extension Educator, Family Life,

Originally released on September 19, 2006

© 2005 The Cairo Gate