Saturday, December 13, 2014

Finding Joy Amid a Stressful Holiday Season

We make Christmas such a stressful time. First, we have to do the shopping for just the right gift, only to then worry that the person will not like it. Next is all of the decorating that doesn't get done in one day but becomes an ongoing process throughout the month of December. At my house, decorating gets put off until almost too late to do it. Finally, there is all the extra "stuff" in the house that makes the place feel so cluttered. Often during this time of year, I have to stop myself from becoming the Grinch and find joy in events that don't happen at other times of the year.

Christmas cards – Wow! This exchanging of cards has certainly changed over the years. It used to be that people sent simple cards reminding us of the reason for the season, the joy of the holiday time or the anticipation of Santa Claus. These were prettily/gaudily decorated with some winter scene, glowing angels or Santa and his elves.

Now people send the funniest and/or cutest cards that really show the personality of their family. I have two friends with twins (Is there some kind of mathematical problem here? Friends2 x twins2?) whose Christmas cards truly show the joy and trouble of raising two or more kids. These cards bring a big smile to my face each year. I actually save these cards and enjoy comparing them from year to year.

Children's programs – Honestly, I should be done with children’s Christmas programs at my age. However, my son with Down syndrome attends a performing arts program for adults with disabilities, and they have a Christmas performance each year. This year, the clients actually wrote a musical that showed how talented they are. The show included Christmas songs and lively dances as well as excellent acting. These people are serious about their craft, and I’m always amazed at what they can do.

I also attended the performance of the Capital Children’s Choir, a musical program offered by FSU to children in kindergarten through ninth grades who want learn about music. My granddaughter is a member and has been rehearsing for the past ten weeks. This program is one of the best kept secrets in town. For only $30 a year, a child learns to read music and to sing songs in other languages from FSU music students and their college professor, Dr. Suzanne Byrnes.

Silly jokes – We have an Elf on the Shelf in our house. This year, Twinkle has left some pretty funny jokes for Cloee (and me) to enjoy.

If athletes get athlete’s foot, what do elves get? Mistle-toes

What’s a parent’s favorite Christmas carol? Silent Night

How many elves does it take to change a light bulb? Ten – one to fix the bulb and nine to stand on each other’s shoulders so he can reach the bulb.

And my personal favorite:

What did one snowman say to the other snowman? Do you smell carrots?

Parties – I don’t go to many parties during this season; however, my work friends usually get together at someone’s house and enjoy lots of laughs, good food and catching up. We always invite the retired teachers, and I love hearing about how they are doing in their new lives. One friend inspired me when she said, “Next year, we can ride together to party.”

Finishing the semester – I know I’ll miss a lot of my job next year, but this year I’m having fun counting down the days. After giving the semester exam in my dual-enrolled English classes, I started cleaning out file drawers, throwing out countless copies of grammar exercises that I won’t use again and passing on my units/lesson plans to teacher friends. We teachers are packrats, collecting anything that we may one day use to impart knowledge to today’s youth. Some of my units date back to my first year teaching and are printed using a mimeograph copier. I plan to have everything cleaned out of my classroom by June 1 so that on my official last day, June 3, I can walk out of school with only my car keys in hand. (Who is tired of hearing about my upcoming retirement? I only mention it in almost every post!)

I hope each of you has a wonderful holiday with as little stress as possible. Go out and find some fun activities that only happen this time of year.