Sunday, December 3rd was the annual Stony Brook Village Holiday Festival. This year APIA was one of the sponsors of the festival. Host families and au pairs came together to decorate the APIA International Peace Tree. Decorations were made by au pairs and host children.
The new 14 foot tall Legends and Spies parade came next. The parade celebrated the Culper Spy Ring of Setauket that helped win the Revolutionary War for America’s independence. Also featured was Ward Melville, the Stony Brook businessman, conservationist and philanthropist. He supported the restoration and preservation of historic buildings in the area to encourage his vision of a New England village in Stony Brook. The event was run by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization.
Their are 70 trees on the Promenade of Trees that will be on view until the New Year! The day included a petting zoo, music, and a model train exhibit.
The day concluded with Santa and friends lighting the big tree on the Village Green!
Homesickness can be a problem during the holidays, even if it hasn’t been at any other time of the year. Au pairs often miss their friends and family, familiar places and their own traditions and customs. The holiday activities in the United States seem, and may actually be, different just at a time when an au pair would welcome something familiar.
It is common for au pairs’ emotions to be close to the surface during the holidays. Her highs are higher, her lows are lower. The enormity of what she has done–actually living in another country (which is an amazing thing when you think about it!)–hits her and throws her into a self-protective mode.
Host parents can help her through this unfamiliar territory by talking to her about what your specific family activities will be (gifts, meals, visitors, religious services, in-home traditions, or none of these, as the case may be.) In the spirit of cultural exchange, ask her if she has any favorite holiday traditions or foods that you might be able to incorporate into your family’s celebration of the season. Let her know what you will be doing, when you will be doing it, and what she can expect. Talk to her about what has to be accomplished and get her involved and interested. Don’t expect her to just “know” what needs to be done. Give her some clear, agreed upon assignments. Make her feel a part of things. And, let her know her contribution is needed and appreciated.
Photo: Sheila Sund (Flickr)