Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Here I sit in my new pink snowflake pajamas enjoying another day off. The last few days haven't been as busy as I thought they might be. Christmas Eve was busy with the afternoon spent with Arrty's side of the family and the evening spent with mine. But Christmas Day was very quiet. Mom left for W.Va. early that morning (2:00am) to be with her family who had called about grandpa being ill. He died Monday evening and I worried for her because she was alone on the train. I wanted so badly to hug her and wished that I was with her. She seemed okay when I talked to her. I think she was expecting it might happen while she was on her way.

Since she was gone, the rest of us were kind of lost. At least I felt like I was. Dad and Ada went to see "The Nativity Story" and our family went to see "Night At the Museum." It was weird going to the movies on Christmas, but we ran into several people that we knew and the movie was actually very entertaining. (Believe it or not, Robin Williams is a great Teddy Roosevelt!) Christmas night we continued our tradition of watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

And yesterday, we watched movies, put away gifts, ate leftovers, and enjoyed our little family. I got the kitchen cleaned including cleaning out the pantry, which was quite a chore. All three boys spent a while outside in the fresh snow. Arrty shoveling and the boys playing, of course. Last night, we watched "The Pacifier" which I got in my stocking. Amazing what a little Vin can do!

As I write, it all sounds very boring. But sometimes boring is good. Sitting and watching movies or reading is such a rare event in real life, so I want to take advantage of it in vacation life. One thing I want for the new year is a simpler, slower life. I guess this week is good practice. Now I'm off to organize the hall closet--one more step closer to that simpler life.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


It's here! It's finally here! The last day of school before Christmas vacation. The day teachers all across the country look forward to. I have discovered that (at least for kindergarteners) once the Christmas tree goes up at home, students couldn't care less about what "v" says or how much a nickel is worth. All they care about is the lights and the candy canes and the presents. They are much more interested in Santa Claus than Abraham Lincoln. (Who isn't!?!) So, the month of December is pretty much spent doing art and making presents for parents. And that, if it weren't for the kids being on fast forward, would be fine with me.

Another good thing about being a teacher at Christmas is the gifts. Today I got an angel pin, a pair of Christmas socks, a candle, 2 ornaments, some chocolate, and two gift cards to Michaels. I love everything of course, but the best part is watching a five year old's face when I open their carefully chosen and wrapped gifts to me. They are more excited than me!

But now, I am so glad to have 13 days off from school. 13 days to rest. Kind of. The next 4 will be spent getting ready for Christmas. Then the busy-ness of the holiday for 2 days. Then 7 days to rest. Two days which will be spent cleaning up from the holday, then 1 day spent cleaning the basement, and 2 days organizing for the new year, and 1 day spent at school planning for next quarter. Okay, that leaves 1 day to rest. But at this point, I'll gladly take 1 day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do Re Mi

Okay, I confess, I am not thrilled about directing the singing for this year's Christmas program. Last year I was so stressed about it that I was physically ill. I think it's a control issue, so this year I planned ahead and said no before I was even asked. But then about a month ago, it was discovered that no one was teaching the kids their 4 songs for the play. So, of course, being who I am, I agreed (a little grumpily) to do it. For the last three and a half weeks I have been teaching 4-12 year olds "The First Noel," "Joy To The World," "Away In A Manger," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." They are actually doing quite well. Some of them sing off key, some sit there with a bewildered look on their cute little faces, some scream instead of sing. But, then there's a moment. A moment when they're all singing (mostly in tune) and looking at me and doing just what they should. And it's in that moment that I smile and remember that these children, God's children, are what it's all about. Next Tuesday, when their parents are sitting in the audience with cameras at the ready, they are not going to care if our C is a little flat. They just want to see their little angels (and shepherds and manger animals) on that stage waving at them and smiling. And singing, with all their might, the story of Christmas.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Past

I don't have very many mementos from my childhood. (Unlike someone I know who still has her Donny Osmond lunchbox from 1976!) I have the stuffed rabbit that my dad brought to the hospital the day I was born, the hope chest he made me when I was 16, the blanket my mom made for me when I was in grade school, and two Cabbage Patch Kids from the early '80s. And I have a Raggedy Ann doll. She is not your ordinary Raggedy Ann doll. She didn't come from a store and she cost very little. Her body is made from old beige sheets, her clothes are made from scraps of material, and her hair from leftover yarn. She has blue eyes and a big grin painted on for her face. On her chest she has a red painted heart that says, "I love you, Jen." I got her for Christmas one year when I was too young to know that store bought toys weren't a possibility. I didn't know and I didn't care. I loved that doll. But now when I see her, I see so much more than fabric and paint and yarn. I see my mom sitting up after I had gone to bed carefully cutting and stitching and painting even though she was tired from her long day. I see her hoping that this simple, hand-made doll would be enough. I see her loving me so much that she did her very best to make me happy with what she had. I see the woman and mother that I want to be. And this precious treasure that means so much more to me than any store bought doll ever could, will always help me see the true meaning of Christmas--that we love because he first loved us.