(published first week in January)
Im stuffed. How about you? If youre like countless other Americans, youre about to follow up your Christmas feasting with January fasting. Diets abound around this time of year. Low-carb. Low-fat. Watch your weight, your cholesterol, your portion size. Its relentless.
Let me offer some relief. There is a way that your family can keep on indulging in the coming year. You can fill up until youre fit to burst then come back for more with no heartburn, no extra pounds, and no guilty feelings.
How? Its simple: dont stretch your stomachs; stretch your minds.
There exists all around us a smorgasbord of experiences for hungry minds. There are paintings, novels, poems, sculptures, songs, cultures, foods, heroes, and stories just waiting to be sampled. But many of us pass by without noticing. We feed our souls fast food whatever is within reach as we zip past, pushed by our busy schedules. That snack may be the one author whose novels feel comfortable. Perhaps its the one radio station that plays our favorites tunes. More likely, its television.
As I work with kids in elementary schools, I have found that theyre aesthetically starving. But sadly, they dont even know it. Most kids have no idea of the banquet that they could be tucking into. They dont know the work of Charlie Chaplin, Winslow Homer, or Brahms to name but three. They do know SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, and Shrek.
But how do we get kids to savor this feast of experiences? How do we even get them to want to? Im going to try to answer that over the life of this column. Heres a good starting place: this coming year, make a commitment to widen the menu. Not just for them; for you, too. Stop by the library, and take out a book of paintings by someone youre not familiar with; leaf through it at the dinner table. Or serve a new food. Or simply watch something different on TV with your kids. (You can see some of ideas Im trying with my pre-schooler.)
Okay, Ill admit, sampling a work of art doesnt pack the pleasurable punch of another slice of pecan pie. But what you gain from it youll never want to lose.
Bruce Van Patter