As adults, we tend to miss the magic of this time of
year. The season becomes too busy, too tiring, and too overwhelming.
With all the commercials, we get tired of the Fa La La of December.
I remember my days in the classroom and how this time of
year would send my students into an absolute dither. Those last few
weeks before break would truly be survival of the fittest for this
science teacher. It always seemed that the more tired I got, the more
energetic they became. Christmas break cruelly dangled out in front of
me beyond my reach. I was not dreaming of a white Christmas. I was
dreaming of outlasting the little dears that couldn’t sit still from all
the sugarplums dancing about in their heads.
Honestly, most of my stress was due to crazy service
projects that I felt were necessary for the students to understand the
“season of giving.” There was the year I decided to undergo “Operation
Warm Up.” This was a jacket and hat drive for needy children. Though it
was a great deal of work, it was a learning experience for my
students--and their teacher.
There was the annual Christmas trip to the soup kitchen
to serve a meal to the homeless. This trip was priceless. For some of my
students, it was the first time they had ever truly seen sadness in the
eyes of the lost and lonely. It is easy to forget how good it can feel
to give of ourselves. I don’t mean money or something that is wrapped in
pretty paper, but to serve someone with our hands and hearts.
One year, my students wrote thousands of letters to our
service men and women overseas. One entire wall in my classroom listed
the names of each marine, sailor and soldier that received a warm
greeting from Mrs. Mlynek’s little helpers. I worked hard to make sure
that in the “season of giving” all of my apple dumplings knew what it
looked like to give.
At the end of the long weeks, when the countdown showed
zero, I would pack away my desk and thank God I had survived. I would
normally have a load of presents to carry to the car, as many students
would give their old teacher a candle or cookies for the holiday. Yet,
the greatest gift was in knowing that we had perhaps made Christmas a
little better for someone else.
When you start to turn a bit green and begin to resemble
the Grinch, when you are losing the magic of the season and forgetting
the excitement of the holiday, here is the remedy. Make Christmas
merrier for somebody else. Take hold of the “season of giving” and give.
You will be amazed at how good it can feel to become the blessing.
The magic can be in the merriment of a complete
stranger. A warm jacket, a warm bowl of soup, a warm greeting, and a
warm heart all go together. At least that is what this teacher was
taught by her students. It is no coincidence that the first Christmas
was due to a child born in a manger.
“. . . and a child will lead them.”