Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gifts of Heritage 2013

As the leaves begin to turn here in the Northeastern United States, we begin to think about the holiday season. In past years, I have posted about making holiday gifts of heritage. [Gifts of Heritage 2011Gifts of Heritage 2010] This year, I am going to post about finding gifts. Fresh from my local Comicon event, I am thinking about the things from our childhoods that bring back memories. Giving items that bring back holiday memories for the recipient is fun, but it is also fun for each of us to set out on a mission to find items from our past.

Love for Comics Span Generations

Last week, we walked through the aisles of the Granite State Comicon searching for My Little Pony items for my young crazed fan. MLP has a huge audience these days. In fact, My Little Pony was an "in" toy for 80s children a few years younger than I. Today's audiences are a whole different breed. Kids today like the big eyed ponies, rather than the rounder bodied ones of my youth. The ponies are also popular with "bronies,"which was something unheard of in my day. Comic books bring us together and could make a fabulous heritage gift for any living generation. For my parents, Howdy Doody and Superman comics abound. For me, it was the Marvel superheroes, Archie, and Casper. Check your local comic book store, Ebay, or the local garage sales to seek those characters who bring back happy memories for the holidays. One does not need to be a collector to enjoy a bit of one's most fun childhood reading material.

Food Heritage Gifts

 I'm big on creating and recalling memories with food. Consider filling a Christmas stocking with a comic book and some good old fashioned candies. [Consider that it's also not too late to buy some heritage candy for the Halloween season, since I got a jump start on this column early this year!] Many companies these days offer the candies of old. Search Google for "old fashioned candy."

When I was young, my holidays were filled with potato pancakes and matzoh balls. We don't make these things often enough in my house. While many of us still hold on to cooking and baking traditions, so many of us have given them up. We bake cookies in December in my house, but when I was young my mom covered the dining room table with chocolates that she gave as gifts to teachers and others who helped us throughout the year - chocolate covered cherries, chocolate and mint wafers, peanut butter cups...she even made a chocolate house for the family to enjoy. It would be nice to bring back some of those traditions from my childhood to share with my kid.

Toys with Memories

I plan to include this photo of me drawing in a gift of
brush markers for my daughter this coming holiday season.
The toys from our past still make great gifts and can bring back comforting memories. Do you have memories of a favorite toy? Consider sharing your love for that item writing down your memory of it and including it in a wrapped gift to a child. For example, I remember sitting in our large front hallway zooming Matchbox cars back and forth with the neighbors. My daughter loves to hear stories of my childhood and sharing it through my childhood toys adds to the interest.

This year, I began bringing games into my library for my students. I brought in some of my thinking favorites such as Mille Bornes and Battleship. I asked the high school students what else they wanted. Reminiscing about their earlier childhoods already, they asked for games such as Candyland, Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders. I was surprised that teens wanted to play these kids' games. I was equally surprised that so many of their games were games that conjured memories from my own childhood.

So when thinking about gifts this year, think about those memories that you can share. Think about connecting generations with gifts that appeal to all. Go out and look for them if you don't have them in your home. Bring your child to help you find gifts for your significant other. Talk to your parents and spouses about their most special old toys and foods and try to bring back that feeling of "specialness". They say that you can't really ever go back, but you can keep the memories alive. And, you can create memories for future generations based on past traditions.

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