When I reflect on the traditions and experiences that bond our students as classmates and as members of our Bengal Nation at Greensboro Day School, I think of the many shared experiences that they have together. These range from the plays they are in beginning in the Lower School to being members of the student council, participating on teams, engaging in class projects and going on day and overnight trips together. I’m sure that there are many other shared experiences that take place on buses to games, during clubs and activities at parties and casual get togethers.
In their latest book, The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath extol the importance of creating memorable moments whether for children, customers, families, friends or partners. In each case the intent is to find ways to design instances of joy that create great memories and lasting bonds.
I am intrigued with finding opportunities to create memorable moments which can draw families closer together during the holiday season. Fortunately, the Heath brothers have some great thoughts on how to do that. They describe the importance of thinking ahead about ways of making deeper, more meaningful connections with families and friends.
A great way to begin thinking about creating memorable moments is to consider your own memorable experiences. As I reflect on special times with my family, one of the most memorable was a Christmas tradition designed by my parents.
We usually celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with our cousins, and none of us could wait until dark and Santa’s arrival. My parents, aunts and uncles decided that in order for Santa to put gifts under the tree, all of my cousins and I would need to be out of the living room. My grandmother offered to read T’was the Night before Christmas to all her grandchildren in one of the back bedrooms of the house. This allowed our parents to put gifts from Santa under the tree and created an incredible tradition in our family.
Somehow, through a timing system I've never figured out, toward the end of my grandmother’s reading, we would hear the jingling of bells and our parents calling out to us,“Hurry up or you’ll miss Santa!” You can imagine the pandemonium as all of older and younger kids began falling over each other as we raced tumbling down the long hallway toward the living room and our parent’s voices. And, imagine our excitement and wide eyes as we turned the corner to see our parents waving goodbye to Santa as they lifted us up to the window to search for him. Then, after searching the skies, we would turn to see a sparkling tree surrounded with the gifts that Santa had left.
What a memory! I don’t know how many years this went on; I do remember some winking between the older cousins, after a few years, as they began to understand the trick, but they played along, encouraging the younger cousins race out first and to look hard for Santa through the windows.
I think that this is just the kind of “moment” that Chip and Dan Heath imagined when they wrote their book. It takes planning and commitment to create such moments, but from my experience such moments bring back warm memories of family and fond, bonding remembrances when we get together.
What powerful “moments” are you creating this holiday season and over the course of the upcoming year? I would love to hear about them!