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:
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:
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,