Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Sweets #12--A Little Bit More

What I love about first grade: CHRISTMAS!! There is no Hum-Bug or Scrooge on the planet that could resist the urge to smile when surrounded by 20 first graders filled to the brim with Christmas cheer. The second we got back from Thanksgiving Break it was Christmas to them--EVERYTHING IS CHRISTMAS!!--it's a blast for sure. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO ridiculously excited for Christmas now! You see, Christmas through the eyes of a 6-year-old is the best kind of Christmas there is, hands-down. :)

So, last week as we celebrated Christmas in our little class, the kids wrote their letters to Santa; since it was a writing activity (don't worry, we are still learning, even with the hype of Christmas surrounding us), I had to read and check off all the kids' letters. This one cracked me up:

Dear Santa,

I hope you have a Merry Christmas! This year I'd like a Lalaloopsy or a camera or a puppy or new Christmas tree or a panda Pillow Pet or an Ipad or a new dress or a necklace or a trampoline or I would really like a panda Pillow Pet because I already have the puppy Pillow Pet...

This continued on for quite some time, but I'll skip ahead to the best part--at the end of her letter, she had written then following:

I'm giving you a dollar this year.

When I inquired about the dollar, she explained, "Mommy says that Santa is really poor this year, so I'm giving him a dollar to help out."

AWESOME! That totally made my day--even a 6-year-old is aware of what's going on to a point, and is aware that her Christmas may be a little smaller this year, but isn't discouraged by that fact, and is still enjoying it to its fullest just as she has every other year. I laughed as I continued reading pages and pages of Christmas gift requests, until I got to one of our students--now, this kid and I have been struggling recently. He's not a bad kid, but the past few weeks he has ignored anything and everything any teacher says--he refuses to do any work, and just pouts in the corner. I've been worried about him, because he's not always like this, but then again I figure that every kid handles the excitement and anticipation of the holidays in their own way, and maybe this was how he showed it.... but then I read his letter--it was the shortest one in the class, so I thought he was just trying to get out of the assignment, but when I talked to him he very sincerely explained that he really only wanted one thing:

Dear Santa,

I like your reindeer, Rudolph is my favorite. I would please like a blanket for Christmas. Thank you.

All he wanted was a blanket--not an Ipad or three pages of ridiculous 6-year-old requests, just a simple blanket. This boy, as I have come to find out, is the middle of several young children, in a family who is not at a financial high point. One day for Show-and-Tell, he brought in a new coat and proudly displayed it to the class, explaining that he had gotten it from the Bishop's Storehouse (a welfare program of the LDS Church). He was so excited and so proud of his new jacket, but it broke my heart--no 6-year-old should have to face the harsh  realities of life, at least not for a few more years, but here this little boy does every day and doesn't ever complain. And all he wants for Christmas is a simple blanket to keep him warm! It made me, once again, realize that Christmas isn't about all the decorations or finding the perfect gift for that special someone--not that those things are bad, I revel in them every year--but at the heart of it, Christmas is, well, about something more.

In the words of the wonderful Elder Jeffrey R. Holland,

As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I do not feel—or mean this to sound—like a modern-day Scrooge. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were humbly given and appreciatively received, and so they should be, every year and always. As my wife and children can testify, no one gets more giddy about the giving and receiving of presents than I do.
But for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion—the Babe of Bethlehem—will we know why “tis the season to be jolly” and why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.
It is for this baby that we shout in chorus: “Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn king! … Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die: Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” (Hymns, no. 60.)
Perhaps recalling the circumstances of that gift, of his birth, of his own childhood, perhaps remembering that purity and faith and genuine humility will be required of every celestial soul, Jesus must have said many times as he looked into the little eyes that loved him (eyes that always best saw what and who he really was), “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3.)
Christmas, then, is for children—of all ages....
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! 'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
(Elder Holland's excepts come from an address given to the Religious Instruction faculty at Brigham Young University, December 12, 1976; as well as from Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, New Year: Random House, 1957).

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