This week Morningside School started to look and sound a lot like Christmas! We put up the tree, the lights and tossed a bunch little snowpeople all over. As I was working on the porch lights, I was thinking about the competing priorities of the day; this blog post and all of the details of making the holidays a special time for children at school and at home. I mulled over an article I read earlier in the morning titled, 147 Things You Don’t Need to Do During the Holidays by child development blogger, Amanda Morgan. I was trying to discern how to allot my time in a way that emphasized our most meaningful and enjoyable traditions while reducing unnecessary stressors.
I have this inner conversation every year, and every year the answer for my family is the same. The answer is TIME. You know, being present, really being WITH our children, without the distractions of the many other things that fight for attention (work, phones, laptops, etc.). It’s funny how even though I come to the same conclusion each year, the insight feels profound. The gift I want most for my children this year is the memory that their mom and dad listened to their stories, played with them, watched them do tricks on the playground, read to them, held them, laughed at their ridicules knock-knock jokes, baked goodies with them, showed them amazing art, scrambled up snow covered trails in the mountains together, and danced wildly about all while vacuuming the family room. I share this with you because I am very sure we are not the only family in Cache Valley that lives “plugged in” to our email, social media sites, etc.
Ironically, as I write, my children are hanging on my elbows waiting for me to build a rocket ship with them, so in the spirit of the above paragraph, I am reposting from last year’s blog to start off our annual food drive. (December 6, 2011)
A MSS “Who-ville Food Drive” for Cache Valley Food Pantry 12/10 – 12/21
As the holidays approach, Maddie and Caleb have asked me to read Dr. Suess’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas again and again. I don’t mind at all — “The Grinch” was one of my favorite stories growing up. I was drawn to the delightful Whos down in Who-ville, and as the youngest in our household, I identified with little Cindylou Who. But really, this story has staying power in the evolving children’s literature genre because it cuts to the heart of the matter –
“So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow… But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY! He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Was singing! Without any presents at all! He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! “It came without packages, boxes or bags!” And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” And what happened then…? Well…in Who-ville they say That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!”
The Whos down in Who-ville understood that a shared experience of joy made the holiday come alive! As we celebrate the holidays, I will be seeking out ways to have new shared experiences in our work and play that expand the opportunities for our kids to develop character traits like generosity, integrity, gratitude and self control.
At school, we will be emphasizing generosity, (giving over getting) and we will be exploring the reasons to and many ways of expressing gratitude. I am asking each family to collaborate with our in-school efforts by participating in our “Who-ville Food Drive” for The Cache Valley Food Pantry! Together, go to your pantry or to the store — listen to your child talk about what to give and why to give. Just the act of doing it together, unhurried, splashes the moment with Who-ville Holiday magic — the act of giving becomes a shared experience, a memory tucked inside a child’s heart infused with the specialness of doing something for others.
So bring a can of Who-hash or a bag full of non-perishable favorites and join us in the Who-ville Holiday spirit!
The food will be collected and displayed under the Christmas tree in the Piano Room until the 21st.