Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In My Head, It’s the Holidays Already…

In my family, we celebrate Christmas. When I was growing up, my mother had a strict rule about no Christmas songs, decorations, or the like before Thanksgiving; I still respect that rule. However, now that I’m both a parent and a teacher, I have to plan for the holiday before December is upon me.

My first year of teaching, our principal came on the PA system to scold teachers en masse and in front of our students for taking leave in December. “Teachers, please do not take personal leave in December!” he boomed. “We cannot find substitutes during this time. Besides, why would people about to get two weeks off need time off now?” (Suffice it to say, we were not managed well.) Even though at the time of that announcement I still flew home to my parents’ house for Christmas, and I certainly, as a twenty-three year old untenured teacher, had not used any personal leave, his query about why teachers would need leave ahead of the holidays made me shake my head. Obviously, he wasn’t the one responsible for the holiday magic in his house.

I currently work in a school calendar where my semester grades are due before Christmas. I will get research essays and final projects just after Thanksgiving, and by the time I lift my head, it will be December 20th. Even when I worked within calendars that ended in January, I tried to clear my desk of grading before the break. Big projects couldn’t withstand the two weeks of stasis, so I had a similar pre-holiday grading crunch. Besides the grading crunch, December brings with it numerous social gatherings, and they all seem to be two weeks earlier than years ago. Weekends will be full of fun that won’t include planning or shopping.

So that’s why you’ll find me humming along to Johnny Mathis’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in these weeks just after Halloween and before Thanksgiving. (The song is only in my head; I don’t actually start playing the CD’s until after Thanksgiving, Mom, I promise!) I’m happily drafting holiday menus for the company gracious enough to join us, and my son and I have a few craft projects underway. Sometimes I feel part of the Christmas sprawl that advertisers have thrust upon us, but mostly, I feel anticipation. Teaching may be part of why I can’t spend December preparing for the holidays, but teaching also has taught me how to plan ahead, so I can do both.

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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