The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 12, 2008


Opening doors for kids this holiday season

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” – Graham Greene

There really is at least one, and maybe more. For me, one of those moments was the night my mother took me to see Henry V and introduced me to Shakespeare. I was around ten years old; just old enough, anyway, to appreciate the romance in poetry and the good looks of the actor who played the young king. I remember little of the actual production except the famous set speech when Henry exhorts his troops to join him in battle against unbelievable odds on St. Crispin’s Day: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;/For he today that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother…” I was so enthralled that I could hardly drink the cocoa we stopped for on the way home.

Since that time, I have loved that play and all of Shakespeare, and I have taught from the canon of his work and directed productions of some of the plays. I read the sonnets to my children when they were in utero, took them to see ballet and dramatic versions of the plays as they grew up. I rush to see any version of any of the plays. I write Shakespearean-style sonnets to my family and friends when I am overcome with emotion. I am a Shakespeare junkie.

Building memories

The point of this is that, so many years ago when she took me to Henry V, my mother opened a door for me and let part of my future in. She made my life richer, and that richness continues to grow even today. I will always be grateful that she held that door open for me, and that she walked through it with me. We went to a series of Shakespeare’s plays together, and those outings constitute some of my fondest memories of time spent with my mother.

There are a lot of doors to open for kids of all ages around here, especially at this time of year. Who knows which one will make a cherished memory or let the future in? What if you took your little one to the library yesterday to make a foam or felt gingerbread person and awakened a skilled crafter or artist?

Family Trees

This season, you could drop into your child’s lap a classic book: Treasure Island, Little Women, The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, or whatever your favorite was when you were your child’s age.

Down the road at the Concord Museum you will find the “Family Trees” exhibit, where Christmas trees are decorated to represent children’s books. Copies of the books are displayed with the trees, so your child can enjoy new stories and pictures as you read together. Who knows? You may open a door to a future writer, journalist, teacher, or adventurer.

A real treat would be a trip to any of the many productions of The Nutcracker that abound in our area this season; whether or not you have a budding dancer in your family, you will awaken an appreciation for the beautiful musical score and for the art of ballet. Take a child to the Christmas Revels, to a production of A Christmas Carol or to a seasonal choral singalong and perhaps you will set in motion a lifelong love of singing, or a talent for acting. Future directors and actors might enjoy the current education programs for kids at the North Shore Music Theater as well.

Tonight, kids are welcome at the holiday potluck and contra dance right here at the First Religious Society, an evening of music and dance that you can enjoy together.

The Children’s Discovery Museum in Acton offers programs this month on safaris, toys, the winter solstice, and music and movement. The Boston Museum of Science has some great films at the Omni Theater: The Science of Risk, The Wild Ocean, and more, and the Planetarium has a special program on the winter sky. Is there a future scientist in your house?

Cooking with kids

The holidays are a great chance to cook together with kids as well, and find out whether the next Jacques Pepin or Julia Child resides under your roof. Making time-honored holiday dishes continues family traditions that carry on for generations. Everybody has a recipe for something handed down from grandmother that brings the family together. Imagine how proud your child will be when you announce that he or she made grandmother’s recipe from scratch this year. If you encourage your kids to volunteer at your place of worship or a local food pantry for a few hours, you might open the door to a future fund raiser, social worker, or simply a lifelong volunteer.

And, equally importantly, there is intermission. Down time. The holidays afford us the chance to have meals, conversations, walks, and maybe a little sledding or snowman-building together. Your child might actually be able to teach you how to text message or play Guitar Hero®. Light the candles together, or decorate the tree. Read a book aloud. Make popcorn and watch a movie together. Build a blanket fort and take a nap in it. Take pictures of your “down times” and get your kids to do the same. You never know: the next Ansel Adams may be photographing you losing a snowball fight. Even if, this time around, none of the moments you create opens the door to the future, you will be laughing together and making memories that will last a lifetime. Happy holidays!


North Shore Music

Museum of Science:

Children’s Discovery Museums:

Concord Museum:


New Repertory Theatre, Watertown (A Christmas Carol)

Boston Ballet (The Nutcracker):

Check for museum passes at Gleason Public Library:

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito