A wish, a video clip, a story . . . and a few weeks off.
Best wishes to all of the teachers who read this; you deserve a relaxing and rejuvenating respite! Besides, it’s your responsibility to add fodder to the fusillades all teachers are assailed with, “Oh, so you’re a teacher – two weeks off at Christmas. Sure wish I got two weeks off at Christmas.” Well, those who complain must suffer a lifetime without the joys of the classroom, the opportunity to enter a building every day that is filled with the vibrations of interest, inquiry, energy, and enthusiasm. Teachers are often challenged with seemingly insurmountable odds but most teachers persevere and meet the challenges as opportunities and unlike the old saw – opportunity knocks continuously.
My visits to two of our local middle schools has shown that most teachers are not charged with batteries a la the Energizer bunny. Teachers’ batteries do run down. I hope that all of you are able to get back up to full charge.
A video clip
Thanks to Chuck Lange for the soundtrack . . . and I meant Giller Prize for The Bishop’s Man.
Here’s a little story I wrote about a memorable Christmas from my childhood. Enjoy.
All I Got For Christmas . . .
As a kid, Christmas was the big one. There were other things that I looked forward to – the anticipation and then delight on the Sunday nights when they chose Adventureland on the wonderful World of Disney, when my mom made toast soldiers (toast with the side crusts cut off and the bottom half painted with raspberry jam, legs cut and all), what the Easter Bunny would put in the cowboy hat that I would slide under my bed the night before, and, of course, the Easter egg hunt which followed downstairs. But nothing compared with Christmas.
One Christmas in particular stands out in my memory – not clearly enough that all the details remain, but the essence of it will never be forgotten. I was about seven. Christmas morning had gone pretty much as all the others had. Our stockings had contained significant little treasures as well as the traditional Mandarin orange and nickel in the toe, the grandparents’ gifts had been opened first from those under the tree, then the others, and finally the biggie – the one from Mom and Dad.
When I opened it, I was shocked and amazed. This was it? Just one six-gun with imitation pearl handles (actually white plastic with a black, raised Texas longhorn’s head). The gun opened at the top. It was too big for my hand and was hard to twirl.
I don’t remember what Rob, two years older, had received or what Laura, four years younger, had been blessed with, but I felt cheated. How could they do this to me? Sure, it was a nice gun, but this was it? I’d been good, really good lately. And all I got was a gun.
Then the guilt began to set in. How could I be so ungrateful, so selfish, so self-centered? Didn’t I have a wonderful life, good food to eat, warm clothes to wear, a nice house, and so much more than those poor children in Africa.
I looked at my dad, sitting in the big, dad’s chair. He was drinking his usual frothy eggnog that Mom made for him every morning all year round.
“Do you like your gun, laddie?”
“It’s great, Dad. And it opens up and you can see where the bullets should go. It’s a bit too big to twirl but I’ll grow into it.”
“Well, I’m glad you like it. We weren’t sure what to get you this year. Say, would you mind going downstairs and getting another log or two for the fireplace?”
Of course, when I got down to our unfinished basement, the brand new bike was sitting out in the middle of the floor with a bow and card with my name on it. It was easily the best present I’d ever received. It was a Raleigh, three speed, with hand brakes. It was blue and white with chrome, and I felt awful. How could I have thought all those things?
Soon, the thrill of the bike overcame the other feelings which, for the time, were set aside. It’s been a long time since that Christmas, and my children are now older than I was then. I remember that day with its mixture of emotions. Every Christmas since has been wonderful in its own way. I guess that Christmas was wonderful too; I had received a better gift than the gift itself.