Most years the holiday season brings a bit of stress into our happy classroom. I've come to expect it. But this year... well, let's just say it fits in with the theme of The Hardest Year Ever. So what's my response? Just keep swimming. We made sugar cookies today... and 3 kids participated. Maybe 4 kids worked on the gingerbread house. Yesterday I couldn't even read them The Gift of the Magi without complaints.("What do we do if we've heard this already?" Heard this already? I hear it at least twice a year and it STILL makes me cry! You'll listen and like it!) So, I compromised, and showed the Bert and Ernie version, where Bert trades his paperclip collection to Mr. Hooper for a soap dish for rubber duckie, and Ernie trades RD for a cigar box for the paperclip collection. Mr. Hooper, who is Jewish and doesn't even celebrate Christmas, then saves the day by returning the prized possessions. (If you want to see it yourself, I found it on YouTube. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Clips are intermixed and I'm not savy enough to grab them.) For about 15 minutes, they were playing along. They got it. They understood why I love this story, whether about Jim and Della or Bert and Ernie. I told them the story of Devon's washing machine and all the checks flowing in... and the one friend who gave 'everything that was in my wallet', which was a number resembling $1.87. And I cried when I read them the final paragraph, as I do every time, and I heard Devon reading along with me. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest. Everywhere they are the wisest. They are the magi.
If I do nothing else in this job, I want to fill them to overflowing with kindness and love and happy memories. I want them to know that someone enjoyed spending time with them. That someone thinks about them fondly, and tells stories about them for years and years. I know I don't send them away having mastered all the academics they're supposed to, and yes, that does bother me. But, I think anyway, I do send them away feeling important. And if that is all I do... that is enough.