Sometimes it’s in the simplest moments that the greatest conversations can occur. At least, that’s what Sonia Manzano discovered one Christmas day. The actress, who has played the role of Maria on Sesame Street for almost four decades, was soaking in the simplistic joy of Christmas Day when she had a realization about how she (and parents everywhere) can connect with their children.
“A friend once told me that the best conversations she ever had with her daughter was when she chauffeured her to and from ballet class one hour away from their home,” says Manzano. “I thought of this, this past Christmas day. After hosting a lovely Christmas Eve party for nine, Gabi, Richard, and I spent the next day napping, reading, and eating leftovers.”
While the flurry of festivities can wipe out any parent, Manzano took the time to talk to her daughter, Gabriela. “That evening my daughter and I finished a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle and talked, and talked, and talked,” she says. “I was reminded how worthwhile it is to talk to your child (and I’m sure for your child to talk to you) when you are both involved in doing something else.”
Since kids can sometimes feel uncomfortable if they need to communicate one-on-one (even with their parents), having an activity can remove that perceived parental pressure. Manzano agrees, adding: “Your child doesn’t feel cornered, and you don’t feel on the spot to speak on life’s issues eloquently.”
As for Manzano, it was the perfect Christmas gift to have one of those heartfelt conversations with her kid. “It was a loving way to end Christmas Day,” she says.