Yes, we did.
I can proudly say that despite the butt-kick of a week it was, I made it through my first Christmas Week experience, the week before school gets out for the Christmas holiday, where my students were hyped up on candy, wrapping paper, and ornament making. Oh, and let us not forget the epic Gingerbread house creations we so eloquently put together on Friday morning.
Story 1: The Dreidels
If you know me well, you know that I do enjoy art. I like having art time and doing art things, but I really like art that the students can do independently and on their own. If it turns into something that I am mostly doing-- punching holes, tying string, gluing things-- then to me, it's a teacher's art project and not the student's. It is art like this, however, that exists during Christmas Week. I could barely hold it together.
Thus, for our Christmas Around the World rotations, I opted for a game instead of a craft. Each first grade teacher was assigned a country/holiday to represent, and our classes rotated to each room for 45 minutes each. I couldn't handle another mostly-teacher-created-art-project, so I decided that for Israel/Hanukkah, I would have the classes play Dreidel. What a good idea! Dreidel! And that way, at the end, I can let them have a piece of candy or two and they will enjoy that.
The night before I was creating Israeli culture in my classroom, around 11:00 pm, I was talking to my dear roommate about the ongoings of Christmas Week. I told her that I was proudly having my students learn and play the Dreidel game when it suddenly hit me-- I do not have any dreidels. I grab my purse and rush out the door and begin my search at Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, to end up empty-handed and without dreidels for the next day, where I would have four classes full of eager first graders reading to do something Hanukkah-esque.
I looked up Party City online and discovered that they had dreidels, so in desperation at about midnight that evening I call my sister to ask her a huge favor-- to go and get the dreidels at Party City in the morning and bring them to me at school. She was reluctant but agreed.
However, the next morning, she calls and tells me that there are no more dreidels left in Party City (apparently Hanukkah is over...) and that she was sorry. I pace over next door to my neighbor first grade teacher and tell her my dilemma and how I embarked on a massive search the night previous and how my sister was out of luck with the small wooden spinning tops. And my neighbor simply tells me, "I have dreidels." and goes into her room to get them.
I stood there with the dumbest look on my face, ever, as she handed me 6 wooden dreidels and sent me back into my classroom.
There was a lot to be joyful about this past week, despite the craziness and holiday cheer abounding in our little jungle. I helped assist our music teacher with putting on our school's Christmas show, where the 4th and 5th grades put on a Christmas concert and play for parents and teachers on Thursday night. I wasn't sure if we would be able to pull it together by then, but the kids did fantastically, and I couldn't believe how great it went. I was so proud of them and how precious and great they were. It's been really fun to get to know the older kids in the school too. Three of them brought me a card and present on Friday morning, even. It makes me wonder sometimes if I could teach the older grades, but then I look at my babies and think, nah...not yet. :)
Friday was our best day of the week, surprisingly. Maybe it was because I had 4 sets of extra hands, eyes, and ears, as I had some parent helpers assist with the snowman making, Gingerbread house creating and decorating, and class Christmas party. I have a great group of parents, who are very supportive and helpful and giving. I couldn't be more blessed with that. I really enjoyed Friday and being able to just indulge in the Christmas joy, as I hadn't allowed myself to really do all week. It was too jaded with the stress and activities and art projects that I forgot to really just enjoy it all. Friday I was able to see that and fix it, and really pass the short half day well with my students. I was glad that God allowed our final day to be smooth and a beautiful one.
The topper of the entire week was this: One of my students, whose mother is a 2nd grade teacher at FVE and my closest friend at school, decided what he wanted to get me early on in the Christmas season. He took his mother to the store and went straight to this gift.
"That's what I want to get her, mom."
"Oh...well, I mean, are you sure that's your only option? You don't want to look for anything else?"
"No, mom, this is what I want to get her."
She went on and told me there was no other option for her son, that he was dead set on getting me this gift, and that she attached the gift receipt just in case I found it as strange as she did.
On Friday morning, this child excitedly watches as I unwrap a bright, royal TCU purple Snuggie. His eyes lit up and a smile spread wide across his face as I exclaimed, "oh, YEAH!" and went in for a high five.
My joy was made complete. And now, as I type this post to you readers out there who find my humorous 1st grade teaching life entertaining, I am wearing this bright purple Snuggie and thanking God for a great first semester of teaching. Until January 4th...
Thanks for reading.