The Edge is a skeleton crew the last week of December. I’m sure we will all take time to recover from the holidays, which is what I will be doing. This is a marathon-length sprint to the finish that I haven’t been exposed to until now.
It’s my son Jameson’s first Christmas. That means that we want to make sure to expose his little three month old brain to as much as possible, and that means running around setting things up and rearranging our lives to accommodate all the love that we have to give and share. Advent calendar, picture with Santa, early Christmas with out of town relatives, immediate family Christmas, grandparent Christmas, cookies, a tree, etc. There may even be reindeer if we can swing it. Don’t even get me started on presents.
In reality, he has no idea what is going on. We’re talking about doing it all anyway, even though we know this. We say it’s for him, but in reality, it’s for us: to make sure that we feel that we have given him an amazing first Christmas. That we are stellar parents. Or at least standard.
I’ve been reading your comments recently on the end-of-course surveys, and the main point that comes through time and time again is that you like Learner’s Edge because it allows you to pace yourselves, and that it fits into your busy schedules. First of all, you’re educators, which means that your life is education: planning, managing, communicating, planning, thinking, and planning. Many of you have families, second jobs, volunteer commitments…I left teaching because I didn’t think I could balance all of that, and many of you do it every day. Incredible. I think we are too busy – too busy to enjoy, to savor, to wonder, to live fully. I don’t know how that translates into your world, but that kind of frenetic pace sends me into a mild panic attack. NPR even ran a piece at the beginning of December touting the benefits of breathing to alleviate stress.
Breathing? We need reminders on how to breathe? I do, actually.
Maybe childhood really is for enjoying the bustle that is our lives without consequence, and to give us something to remember when we are sharing our lives with others when we are older. Adults just don’t get to savor and be amazed in wonder like we did when we were kids. We get to enjoy it now through children, really – our own or others – and it’s a different perspective. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t achieve that level as adults. It comes in moments of quiet (however brief), in small observations, and in the security of who is around you.
We have to start realizing that busy isn’t better, but can actually be detrimental. My colleague Susie likes to use the phrase, “does it matter if….?” I know I have had to step back from some of my practices and standards since my son was born, and to pick a few that I really want to uphold (the dishes are always done before I go to bed at night). So Jameson doesn’t get to see reindeer this weekend – or ever. “Does that really matter?” In my mind, no. Getting him fed and changed matters….reindeer- not so much. We can translate that into our own lives by evaluating once in a while. My husband and I like to do the highlight/lowlight thing- picking one high and one low point each day to discuss. That way small things get big press, and the stuff that shouldn’t get big press – doesn’t.
My attempt this holiday season is to boil things down to the basics. Jameson doesn’t know what toys are, really, so his “presents” are things that he needs. Our family and friends are all getting homemade gifts. We are going to keep things as simple as possible. We are going to be intentional about what we do, and won’t be too hard on ourselves if we don’t achieve our standards. The new year will bring plenty “to do,” so we can just practice going against the grain, so that we don’t get sucked back into the “busy-ness.”
For now, though, I gotta go find a reindeer. Just kidding.
Happy holidays to all of you from The Edge.