As 2015 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on all that has happened this year. We are blessed beyond measure. We have a safe home, supportive families, great friends, careers, financial means to have fun and to plan for the future, time together, and convenience in many forms. My complaints (i.e.: my students won't stop talking!) are tiny in the grand scheme of things, and I need to remember that.
Looking forward to what 2016 will bring!
We have had a very blessed Christmas - family, friends, gifts, life. I say it a lot, but I will say it again - We have amazing families! And we are so thankful for the time we get to spend with them - at the holidays and throughout the year. This year we split up the family time. Brian's family on Christmas Eve and my family on Christmas Day. This was amazing! We had more time with each family and a much more relaxed holiday.
So relaxed that I was crazy forgetful! I forgot a few gifts on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas Day I forgot most of the ingredients for the mac n cheese I was making as well as the slow cooker to cook it in! Whoops. If you know me at all, you know that I am extremely organized and I plan ahead (like, too far ahead sometimes). So this forgetfulness bothered me to no end. I don't know what happened! It was my dad's theory that I was so relaxed that I didn't have a "mental list" going like I normally would. We'll go with that!
Gift giving has become a (for me) fun part of the Christmas celebration. I like the process of giving gifts - thinking about the person, what he/she would appreciate, and then finding that perfect gift. It's fun and exciting! Brian and I create lists each year, but I always enjoy going "off list" for a few items.
As a Specials teacher, it's nice to be remembered with gifts and cards; but I am always blown away by the generosity and giving spirits of my students and their families. Sometimes I feel I don't deserve all that they shower me with! They definitely make me feel loved and valued. However, I will admit, I can get caught up in the "stuff" and my selfishness comes out.
This year I received two gifts from siblings I teach. Their gifts were the best ones I received and helped me to remember what gift giving is all about! I received the brother's gift first. He came running up to my classroom door and thrust a tin can in my hand. "Here. This is for you." And he was gone as fast as he arrived. At first, I was confused by the gift. Why do I need a tin can? What am I going to do with this? He had created a new label for the can that just said, "To: Mrs. Arnold - From: R" I added the gift to my list (for thank you cards) and set the can on my desk.
It was not until I got home that day and began unwrapping gifts that I understood. The brother's little sister had brought me a gift bag that morning. I had just set it down, planning to unwrap and "catalog" gifts later. Little sister had obviously wrapped the gift herself, complete with a handmade tag "To: Mrs. Arnold - From: M". Once I had broken through the large amounts of tape, I saw used crayons. Some were broken, some dull. Crayons of different brands and colors. It took me a minute to realize what she had given me. I started crying as soon as it clicked. She had given me her crayons! She wrapped up her own crayons to give to me. What a special gift and reminder of true giving. I plan to put her crayons in his tin can and keep them on my desk as a constant reminder. I am so grateful and thankful for not only the presents, but my students themselves. They are the reason I teach, and I learn from them daily.
I am blessed and thankful for everything this holiday season!
Goats eat everything, right? I'm not making that up am I?
I think our orange tabby, Wheatley, must be part goat. He will eat anything! Even with us being extremely careful and watchful, he still finds things that he shouldn't eat and eats them! Three years ago, he actually had to have surgery because he had eaten a pistachio shell, and it caused a stomach obstruction.
Well, now he's eaten some tinsel ribbon. I had purchased a gift bag and was unpacking my shopping bags. I walked to the bathroom to put somethings away, and when I came back, he was gnawing away at the bag! I think he got a good couple of inches of silver tinsel...
And now for the waiting game. Watching (and praying) for it to come out the other end. Dumbest cat ever! I still love him though.
Today started like any other school day. I was even ready a few minutes early, allowing me to leave early and give me a few extra minutes of quiet in my classroom before school started.
However, today was not any other school day. Today, we experienced a great loss. Last night one of our school families was involved in a terrible car accident, and one of my 5th grade students passed away. I taught him on Monday. He was quiet, but engaged. He did his work and followed directions. I didn't think twice about it. Did I even speak to him? Or was I too busy? And now, he's gone. Taken too soon.
I had the privilege of seeing him grow up. I have been his art teacher since Kindergarten. I saw him grow and mature. I taught both of his older siblings. I cannot even begin to understand what the family is going through. I was "just" their art teacher, and I am heartbroken and profoundly changed.
Life is precious. Cherish every moment. These thoughts have run through my head repeatedly today. Praying constantly for the family, my school, and the community.
He will be remembered.