MTBoSBlaugust Post 4: The one with the Christmas decorations

So it’s the 15th and I’m on post 4. I’ve clearly failed at this Blaugust game. Though Shelli said that if I’m blogging more than I was, it’s a success. So there’s that. One of the prompts she suggested was, “One time in math class….” Connie tweeted yesterday about her pink, sparkly frame she bought and sent me a photo this morning. It made me think of a sign that used to be on my cabinet in my classroom that said, “have a pink-tastic, sparklicious day.” And that brought this memory to my mind.

One time in math class, well not really IN math class, but in my math classroom, I had some merry little elves break in and bring me some holiday spirit. One of the first things that my students mistakenly learned about me is that I don’t really like Christmas. Now, as far as a religious holiday, it’s great. Everything else – I’m just not into it. But that’s not the point of the story.

So even with my dislike of Christmas widely known, my friend Terri asked me every year if I had put up a tree or decorated my house. I always said no and she would be sad for me. She always joked that she would bring her daughter and her daughter’s friends (my students) to decorate my house for me. I told her all the time that it didn’t matter because I lived alone and I didn’t need to make a mess and then have to put it away just for myself. This conversation has happened every year for the 6 I’ve known her!

When the girls were in 8th grade (my 3rd year with them), they and their moms hatched a plan to break me out of the bah humbugs. I came in one morning to find my blinds closed. This was odd because I never closed them. I opened my door to find a winter wonderland. There were Christmas lights strewn across one wall and the Christmas station was playing tunes. Tinsel and sparkle were on anything that made sense (and frankly some that didn’t). There was garland around the flagpole and ornaments hanging from my podium with the aforementioned sign wishing me a pinktastic, sparklicious day. There were purple glittery snowflakes everywhere the tape would stick. Across the window was white tinsel with an angel hanging in the middle. On the counter there was a beautiful silver tree with pink garland and ornaments and a pink tree skirt. And finally there was a big poster on the wall that said, “Merry Christmas, Ms. McCormick. Love your 8th grade elfettes.” The tears were basically immediate as I dropped my bag and tried to take it all in. Eight of my little 8th grade darlings were behind the “break-in.” (Three of their moms were on staff at the school, so “breaking in” was a piece of cake). This was without a doubt the sweetest thing that anyone had ever done for me. I couldn’t believe that they had gone through all that trouble just for me.

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When we came back to school, I tried to leave up as much as possible. Snowflakes weren’t Christmasy – they were wintery. They stayed. The lights didn’t have to be for Christmas – they were celebration lights. The silver tinsel – well that stayed because it was sparkly. And the sign stayed up on the wall for at least 2 more full years. Other students would often ask why I had a “Merry Christmas” sign on the wall in June. I told them that it was because it was a memory of the nicest thing anyone had ever done for me, and it made me happy just to see it each day.

In the years that followed, after my dear girls had gone off to high school, Terri’s daughter Maddie would always come to set up my tree for me, since she was around with her mom a lot of mornings. Having my special tree in my room each year reminded me of that day and of those girls and of how much they changed my life in the 3 years that I had them and the 3 years that have gone on since. Some of these girls started their senior year this past week and some of them start on Monday. It’s insane to me that the little 6th graders I met in my first year there are so grown up and accomplishing amazing things. I remain very close to a few of them and it’s going to be so fun (and so sad) to watch them navigate their senior year and whatever comes next. But I will always have that special memory of a beautiful silver tree and the way that it made me believe I was in the right place, doing the right thing.

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