Friday, December 5, 2014

The Impending Arrival of the Unicorn

It's probably redundant to start a second blog within three days with a birthday update, and the subsequent feeling of OLD associated with said birthday, but you can't really pick when your kids are born.   (Okay, so maybe you can, but I didn't!)  In 1993, on December 3rd, Kristin was born.  Eight years prior, in 1985, on December 5th, Scott was born.  And while the happy coincidence of the date and the years matching for each of them, (3 in 1993, 5 in 1985), allowing for accurate completion of all sorts of records, including tax forms, over the years, suffice it to say that the beginning of December is always fairly busy in the celebration department around here.  (And a bit sad, in the younger years, for the third child who was born in June.)All of this reminiscing has transcended the mommy/baby memories this week, and gone even further back in history.   

Because Facebook allows for random reminders of days gone by, today there was this gem:

"Remember when there was a live Christmas tree in every classroom at Glenside Weldon?"

Of course I do.   With paper chains and handmade decorations made, GASP, during school hours, presumably preempting some other curricular activity.  There was a ton of tinsel on those trees -- and kids like me who had tinseless trees (because we had glass beads, and they were glittery enough, I was told), would find fascination in winding the tinsel around our fingers to cut off the blood to our fingertips, or pretend we were wearing beautiful rings. 

You'd better believe that there isn't a live tree in a classroom anywhere near you these days -- if for only the fire safety implications.  But there are other issues that keep classrooms from the festive-ness of years gone by.  Namely, the recognition of a (presumably pagan) evergreen tree as a symbol of religion, and has no place in a public school.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most difficult days of the year for teachers.  (Possibly rivaled by the last week before summer vacation, but by then the high stakes tests are history and there is some breathing room....)  Kids are up late, must-see Christmas specials are broadcast, holiday concerts are happening, families engage in traditions that "interrupt" the time available to complete, catch up, or accomplish all those assignments we're hoping to have turned in prior to the arrival of the jolly man himself.  The dreams of filled gradebooks dance in our heads....

This doesn't mean that we don't find our own ways to provide some countdown attempts to the holidays.  It does mean that teachers seek "approved" celebratory decorations.  (I can't have my small USB powered Christmas tree hooked to my computer unless I find a menorah that lights?  Okay.....)  There are Elves on Shelves, paper chain countdowns, and, in my room -- the land of original students who truly believe in unicorns, the best holiday countdown calendar, EVER.

This year, I have middle schoolers vying for the privilege of opening a paper door and assembling a piece of our magical land.  Come "December 24th," the unicorn joins the fairies in the land we're creating. Fortunately for us, we've created a schedule that allows for the celebratory unicorn arrival on Monday, December 22nd.

Am I excited?  You betcha.  It's not ever teacher that gets to choreograph a dance for the arrival of the Unicorn. 

Stay tuned.  It's going to be epic.