As an adult, my wife and I have built our own family rituals that we believe our children will remember and pass on to their own children. As they have grown up and left home to follow their own paths in life, these rituals also remind us of the bonds and love we have for each other and reunite us during the Christmas season.Some of the rituals our family enjoys are attending the Christmas Carol play every year at the Alley Theater, preparing three stockings for all my children regardless of age, listening to Christmas songs on the radio as we travel to various cities for our Christmas trip, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, feeding the homeless at shelters, and giving gifts to those in need.But even with these rituals, the one that I feel still echoes through my mind, is giving thanks for just being here and together another year.As you celebrate this holiday season, please ensure while presents are important, that you as a parent provide your children with the most important gift: your love and support. Educators see students every day and, believe it or not, we can see when a child is not receiving support from his or her parents.I tell parents over and over to provide plenty of love and attention, especially if your child is between the ages of 4 and 12. Kids need it, even more now in this pandemic.Please assure that you and your family are wearing a mask during this challenging pandemic. Limit the amount of time your children spend with others, especially those who are not immediate relatives.Let’s keep our focus on making tamales, listening to Christmas music and placing Christmas lights outside your house for future holiday seasons. In the end, please remember the message my mother would repeat year end and year out: give thanks that you have been given this great year!Dr. Bobby Lopez, CEO, has served as superintendent of the Bob Hope School since 2010. Contact him at [email protected] or 409-983-3244. The December holidays bring time for relaxation and some well-deserved time off. They also give us time to reflect on the values that are important to each of us.What does the holiday season mean for me? What I remember the most are beliefs my mother had and passed on to each of her children.As I reflect on my personal holiday season as a child, I remember always expecting a gift from Santa. My family lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Many times, there was not a paycheck. Yet, somehow, there were always presents on Christmas morning. I felt so proud. I was taking a Christmas tree to a home that had never had one in the number of years that I could remember. We quickly decorated it with popcorn strings and a few Christmas ornaments.But what really resonates is the aroma of tamales in the house. Every Christmas season, my mother and relatives would come in and make tamales or we would go to a relative’s house and make them there.Church played a very important role also in my upbringing. Attending mass was a family ritual, whether it was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or the nine o’clock mass on Christmas day. My mother would always remind us as we were going into church to give thanks that we were a family and that we were all well without any illnesses, pain or hunger.That is the message I remember most. My mother always managed to save for us at Christmas. While my brothers and sisters thought our presents were new toys or something else we wanted at the time, the gifts my mother was really giving us were the timeless gifts of love of family and self-sacrifice.We were a family of seven, my father, my mother and five kids. One year when I was a second grade student, my teacher decided to raffle out the classroom Christmas tree and asked those without a tree to write their names down and place them in a box.I remember praying and praying that I would be the fortunate student able to bring home the class tree. When the teacher pulled out the name of the student who won the tree, it was my name.