This year our children's school has taken a different look at the holidays in their group activities. The concentration has been on having an old fashioned Christmas and focusing on the simpler things. One of the key lessons has been giving over receiving and that gifts can be as simple as a smile, a hug or doing something kind for your classmate. Instead of sending gifts for the teachers they had asked that the students make a donation to one of 2 projects- backpacks for the homeless or shoe boxes filled with stocking stuffers for someone within our own community. There was not a big concert production this year but a carol sing where families were invited to join with the students to sing carols, share memories of a favorite Christmas and have a time of fellowship with hot chocolate and cookies that had been baked by the teachers. The teachers felt that it was necessary to take the focus off of finding a fancy outfit to wear, knowing full well how much of a hardship that is for some of the families and just showing their students and our community what fun can be had by just being together. I've been involved in some fundraising activities this week that had me at the school more often than usual and around some of the parents. I overheard some complaining to a dear teacher that they were hugely disappointed that there would be no stage at this event, no opportunity to videotape their child, no reason to attend the event. *sigh* The teacher tried to explain that they were trying something new and that for some families this would be one of the few moments where they could be together doing something like this. This person went on and on about how she wouldn't waste her time and how could she expect her parents to travel from another town for this. The point of the evening was completely lost on her. It made me so sad that all she cared about was a production to tape her child at. She was well dressed, as were her children and the prospect of not having an event to shop for was probably causing her much grief as well. We attended the event and while it wasn't a packed house like it is when they have to hold 2 seperate concerts for the school it was a decent turn out. The kids were well behaved (except a few who ironically belong to people who consider themselves to be "all that") and they were really into the night. It went a little long but most things run late around here and they had some sound and video challenges. I don't know that it fostered a huge sense of community because this is a place where people stick to who they know. As members of parent council and PTA, Troy and I did our best to talk to people who seemed left out of the group. Our kids preferred it over the normal school productions. They will have assemblies this coming week with a couple of classes at a time performing for the rest of the school. I wonder how many of the video tapers will show up for that.
Today was the day they handed off their shoe boxes and backpacks to the people from Christmas Elves. I think they were proud of what they had accomplished and I hope that some of the more fortunate children learned a little bit about giving and how blessed they are. Maybe they can pass that knowledge onto their spoiled parents who want what they want.
This week also marked the kick off of the breakfast program for the school. This is a project that is near and dear to the Hero and I. We, along with some dear people, worked hard and pushed through a great deal of ridicule and adversity to pull this off. Today was the day when all that drama paid off in a huge way. Since Tuesday each of the children in the school have received some breakfast on their assigned assembly days. Today the entire school was given some healthy muffins baked especially for them by our local bakery and a milk. They learned how this program came to be and that thanks to the generosity of a local business they will continue to receive funds through the coming year to keep this program going for some time. They wanted to have breakfast for everyone at the beginning so that the stigma of it being just for those that were lacking was removed. The kids now know that if they are hungry they need to only ask their teacher and food will be provided for them. The Hero was choked up talking about the project and many of the teachers had tears freely flowing. It is a really great thing what our dear friends have pulled together and the need is only going to become greater as times get tougher for many in our community. It was a good end to a project that came with a great fight. I'm so glad that we all pushed through and saw it come to pass.