Holiday Open House

December 1: The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s Holiday Open House is a day full of holiday cheer, with the 2nd annual “Say It Ain’t Say’s” sweet potato pie contest and craft stations for kids. Event time: 2 to 5 p.m. Free. Visit for more details.

Happy MLK Day: Taking Time to Talk to your Children, Taking Time to Read the Full Speeches

Today is Martin Luther King Day, an opportunity to honor the a man (and so many who stood with him) who fought for equality for all.

Chances are your children were out of school and maybe even you had the day off from work. Perhaps you engaged in a service day in your community or walked in a parade or march. Have you taken the time to talk about the legacy of Dr. King with your children? It’s a wonderful opportunity to reflect on King’s legacy and how his message of peace and equality are as important today as ever.

Far too often Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words are reduced to short quotes and sound bite snippets. Although poignant and powerful, these quotes seldom capture King’s radical and holistic vision for a truly just America. So why not spend a while this evening reading some of King’s speeches in their entirety? Most of them are easily accessible online and often audio recordings exist as well.

If you’re children are too young to understand and too busy to sit still, perhaps wait until after bedtime and take a few moments to read. After all, it’s not just our children who can learn from King’s message of peace and justice.

Here’s the full transcript of the “I Have a Dream Speech” from 1963.
You can listen to the audio here.

Coping With Grief During the Holidays.

It seems everywhere you go Christmas music is playing, bells are ringing, and homes are enveloped in a rainbow of lights—all signs that the winter holidays are here. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, all these signs of Christmas may accentuate grief, a continuous reminder of former days when you shared this time of year with loved ones who have passed.

Everyone grieves differently. Grief ebbs and flows and has a mysterious timetable all its own. Some people find solace in their holidays memories while others find this time of year much like the reopening of a wound. For most of us, grief is a process that swings back and forth between these two extremes.

There are a number of resources out there to help people deal with grief surrounding holidays. is an especially wonderful resource for grief of all kids. They’ve compiled a list of resources here that might be of help to you or someone you know. These resources are especially helpful if you’re facing your first holiday after a loss.

Here are just a few ideas gleaned from personal experience, lots of reading, and the passage of time.

* Don’t feel obligated to fulfill former holiday traditions for their sake alone. Do what feels the most peaceful. Don’t think about how you’ll get through future holidays. Just focus on the one at hand.

* Light a candle in honor of your loved one and let it burn during all holidays activities. This open and visual acknowledgement of pain that may, in fact, bring some small measure of peace.

* If you feel up to it, do something for someone else. Visit someone in a nursing home, a hospital, in jail. Donate your time to someone in need and make a committment to continue this long after the holidays are over.

* Create a gift in honor of the one you’ve lost—and then give it to someone else.

* Give a Christmas card to the one you’ve lost. Write a letter inside telling them how you feel and how much they are missed. Sometimes this kind of direct acknowledgement of pain can lead to healing.

* Here’s something I’ve been doing since I lost my own mother four years ago: Each year I make something for myself, or purchase something timeless and meaningful, and declare it from my mother. One year I made a necklace. Another year I knit some gloves. This year I’m thinking of getting a tattoo. The point here is, it’s a gift to myself in honor of my mother, something small and meaningful that reminds me of how much she loved the holidays, who she was and who she still is.

What’s helped you? If you are grieving, may you find peace in these difficult days.



Finding Peace During the Holidays.

It’s a week away from Christmas. I guess that means we have a week left for shopping, but let’s skip talking about consumerism.

The holidays are supposed to be about joy, togetherness, peace, and love. For some the holidays are religious events and for others they are secular celebrations. But one thing almost all of us can agree on is our desire to celebrate the holidays with joy. Yet far too often our days become filled with stress and a general sense of anxiety as we try to beat the clock.

We can choose to find some measure of peace in these days and we can make a decision to let go of our anxiety and embrace a sense of thankfulness for all the riches and gifts we already have. Here are a few ways I find centering during the holidays. What about you?

1. Take time to think about the big picture. Ask yourself, do we have the food we need to eat? A roof over our heads? Safety in our homes? If so, we already have everything we need and these are gifts beyond measure. If we’re too buy to remember this, we’re simply too busy and probably need to . . .

2. Slow down. People often forget the gifts we give, but they never forget the time we spend with them. Take time to visit with someone and enjoy the season. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s worth trying.

3. Talk to Your Kids. Forget Santa, presents, and discussions about being “good.” Sit down and talk to your kids about why the holidays truly matter to your family and ask them what the holidays mean to them. Listen closely to their answers.

4. Read a Book Together. Sit down and read a kid’s book about the importance of the holiday season. Talk about what you’ve read.

5. Make Simple Gifts. Gift giving can be wonderful, especially when the gifts come from the heart. Take time to bake, draw, or utilize any other talent you have and work with your kids to make gifts to give to others. Don’t forget that making the gifts, and the time spent together making them, may be just as important as where the gifts end up. And ask your teenagers to join in. They might even surprise you and say yes.

What are your ideas for finding peace during the holidays? 



Holidays Around the World: Little Beginnings Program for Toddlers

This is such a magical time of year for children of all ages, including young toddlers who take in the season with wide-eyed wonder…and perhaps a bit of confusion.

Tomorrow the Old State House Museum, located in downtown Little Rock, will be holding their monthly Little Beginnings Toddler Program, a learning program for children agres 2-4 with a parent. Tomorrow’s program focuses on holidays around the world and will include crafts, songs, movement and storytelling by the Old State House staff.

These programs are usually well attended and little ones have a great time singing, dancing, and creating with the energetic staff. The program begins at 10:30 and admission is free for both parents and children!

The Old State House requests no day or school programs please due to lack of space. Call (501) 324-9685 for more information.

Helping Kids Connect with Grandparents and Older Relatives

With the holiday season coming up chances are you’ll be spending more time with relatives and enjoying family gatherings in multi-generational settings. Generational gaps can lead to lack of communication between children and their older relatives, especially in an age of constant texting and facebooking.

Here are just a few simple ideas to help children and older relatives spend some quality time together. Of course, there’s no need to wait until the holidays to engage in some of these activities. Visiting with older relatives is important all year around.

1. Work Together to Create a Story of the Family, either on actual paper or online. Scan in old photos and ask grandparents to tell you about the day they were taken. Ask relatives for information about their own parents, their childhoods, and their jobs. Talk to them about some of their favorite things to cook, garden, or read. Then compile all the information onto a blog, into a scrapbook, or another other form of media. It will be a keepsake for generations to come.

2. Record an Interview with Grandparents That Can Be Shared With Other Family and Friends.  Sit down and record a short interview with grandparents about their lives. You can ask questions such as “Where were you born?” “What’s your earliest memory?” “How did you meet your husband/wife?” “What kind of games did you like to play as a child?” The possibilities are endless and your guaranteed to learn a great deal.

3. Scan in Old Photos Together. Spend time together sharing stories and digitizing photo collections by making sure to include the kids in the event. They might find it boring at first, but chances are they’ll get pulled in by the storytelling and want to know more.

4. Create a Family Recipe Book. There are numerous options on both Macs and PCs for creating recipe books. Ask your child to help type up the information and put together the design while you and grandparents decide what to include. You can even consider making copies for everyone as Christmas presents. The great thing about it is the recipe book can grow as time goes on.

5. Go for a Drive. Do you have a teenager who is learning to drive? If you’re not too terrified to ride with them, have them get behind the wheel for a family drive and ask grandparents to talk about the changes they’ve seen in the town over the years. It will be a great conversation starter and fun practice for your teen.

What are some of your ideas? We’d love to hear them!