Tomorrow is December 1st!?!?!
Back to school for 15 days and the last day of school is my birthday!
I realized my 7th graders weren’t around two years ago when I did my “Christmas Countdown 14 Days of Writing,” so I decided that would be our journal writing for the next three weeks. Here is the PDF version for you to download and use in class: Christmas Countdown 2014
Good luck to the teachers of the very young and of the teenagers as well! Our winter started early and December is bound to be rough.
At 6:53 this morning, two anxious children tip-toe in my room. (It’s funny how you can be shaken out of a deep sleep by a tip-toe!)
Ian sings a joyous song to his own tune…
“The milk is drank…
The cookies are ate.
The napkin is folded
and put on the plate.”
I drowsily roll over and laugh, “Did you make that up?”
“No, I looked in the kitchen!”
So grateful for this last sweet moment of believing.
In the midst of Christmas spirit and holiday bustle, we’ve been doing such fun things at school. Concerts, gingerbread houses, Pajama Day, Christmas writing and Christmas projects. These are the things we do every year in preparation for our holiday break. It is a fun, if not crazy, time of year.
Three days ago my students had this writing prompt:
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed their responses. I opened each of their responses on the SMARTBoard, and oohed and ahhed and thanked them publicly for their “gift.” As an intervention teacher, I don’t typically get many gifts at Christmas time, so this was a very special way for every student to share something with me. The excitement of each student as they waited for me to open their gift (i.e. word document on Edmodo) was touching. My class is very observant and very thoughtful. It’s funny the things they notice.
If I received everything on their shopping list, I would have quite a wonderful and interesting Christmas morning:
All of those gifts are wonderful and I’d enjoy them very much (except the Panda bear might get to be a handful.) But this Christmas I’m asking for things that money cannot buy.
I only have four days left of school. Four of the toughest days of the year.
Never mind the normal chaos of this coming week as kids are too excited to sit and learn. Teachers all over the country have a tough job ahead of them.
After yesterday’s tragedy, we have a whole new wish list.
For the students…please bring them joy and trust. Bring them courage and bring them hope.
For the parents…please bring them comfort and peace. Bring them trust that teachers will do all they can to protect their children while they are apart. Bring them guidance and honesty to help their children deal with fear the best they can.
This week teachers will need patience, peace, calmness, and strength. They will need wisdom and grace. They will need courage and compassion.
Please bring them all of this and more.
Thank you Santa,
Last night we were doing our yearly trip to the Christmas Tree Festival…a tradition that has been in our family for five years and the kick off to the holiday season. It was somewhat unusual that it was 60 degrees as we set out for dinner and then headed to the festival. Christmas lights and no jackets? The kids were loving it.
But once we got inside…it was instantly Christmas! You can’t fight the twinkle lights and Christmas music and fake snow and 100 trees decked out in everything from traditional to crazy decorations.
Little did I know that one tradition would come to a screeching halt as we were viewing and voting for our favorite trees.
About three-quarters of the way through the display, Tweedle Ian says to me rather accusingly, “You know, Garrett AND Ashley both have a Jolly too? It’s called an Elf on a Shelf.”
My heart stopped. My parents stopped. Tweedle Dee looked at me.
I was caught off guard….he’s in the 4th grade…I knew this day would come sooner or later….I panicked…How did I explain the little elf who appeared on Dec. 1st each year? The elf he lovingly named Jolly. The elf he loved like a brother. I am not kidding…check out these pics over the years….
“Yeah, they sell them in stores. I’ve seen them.”
“Did you buy Jolly at a store???????”
“Jolly is not an Elf on a Shelf exactly,” I say hoping he can read between the lines without me admitting the truth and killing the magic.
Tears formed in my eyes…and I looked at my stepmom for some back-up.
“Well, I believe in magic Ian…and Jolly is pretty magical,” she offers.
He’s a smart kid. He’s not buying it.
Ian is looking at me with his big brown eyes and trying to make sense of this non-sense he’s hearing.
“Listen, buddy, the holidays are about tradition and magic and special memories. Jolly is a special Christmas memory you will always have. In fact, I have TWO Jolly’s at home. One is for you when you are older and one is for Dee. I want you to have this memory with your kids someday.”
“I want to see them both when we get home,” he demands with his voice, but I know in his heart he is saying, “Please don’t be true. Please don’t be true.”
I give him a hug, “Please don’t be mad. Please understand that I wanted to make some magic.”
My step-mom asks, “Are you mad, Ian?”
“No. No. Um…well, yeah a little bit….”
I am still fighting tears because I just don’t want this part of our lives to end.
“Did you put him in the car? Did you ring the doorbell? Did you open the M & M’s? Did you do the puzzle?
I did. I did. I did. I did. (But I said nothing.)
I feel like a liar.
A liar who does what almost every parent does. And I am sure I am feeling what almost every parent does somewhere around this age when the magic goes up in a puff of smoke.
It was hard when Tweedle Dee called me out on it, but she admitted it with such grace and matter-of-factness the day I casually asked, “Are you excited for Jolly to return?”
“Really, mom? I know Jolly is a stuffed animal. I’ve always known. But it was fun to pretend.”
But this crushed me. My babies are grown up. No more pure innocence and belief in magic. Not in the Jolly sense of the word.
We start walking through the tree display again. The carolers are singing “Santa Baby” and everyone is singing along. And my heart is breaking.
Ian tries to be tough and he goes through the rest of the display with an all-business attitude. He writes down his favorite tree on the ballot (The Ohio State tree, of course) and says, “Let’s turn in our votes now.”
I dreaded the fury he would unleash when we got home. He can be quite dramatic.
But he quickly put on his pajamas and cuddled up in a blanket on the couch. He was playing on the iPad when I sat down beside him.
“I swear I’m not mad mom. It’s ok,” he says quietly.
“This year, maybe we can take turns doing funny things with Jolly. Hiding him around the house and the others can look for him. It’ll be funny.”
“Yeah, a new tradition. I think that’s good.” He pauses, thinks for a minute and smiles, “Can I go first?”
I can’t wait to see how this tradition plays out…