Imagine this: you’re standing in front of The Top Thrill Dragster (a very huge roller coaster, FYI). You’re terrified, because, well, frankly, many things could go wrong (not the least of which are losing a limb or getting stuck mid-loop, but I digress…). You want desperately to ride because you’ve driven five hours to do so and all your friends are hounding you. Reluctantly, you proceed to stand in line for hours so that you can experience a 20 second, 100 MPH rocket ride at a 90 degree angle.
You wait in line (for six years, more or less) and out of nowhere, you’re in the front. It’s your turn. Then, you’re strapped in, panicking, not sure what to do with yourself. Mouth watering, eyes watering (hey man, I’m NOT crying….), lump in your throat, delirious from the horror about to ensure. And then, 3,2,1, takeoff!
In a frenzy, you blink (half because you’re scared and need an excuse to close your eyes, and half because it’s a bodily requirement or something) and before you know it, you’re stepping off the ride.
That moment when you’re walking back through the rat maze after the ride, scolding yourself for keeping your eyes closed the whole time, still walking a bit crooked because inertia is funny that way, already debating whether or not you want to risk life and limb again because it was exhilarating and the most thrilling and exciting thing you’ve ever done, but at the same time mentally and physically draining….that’s exactly what it feels like for a first year teacher to make it all the way to Christmas break.
(This, friends, is the best metaphor you’ll ever read….revel in it….)
(Okay, that’s enough reveling)
Making it to Christmas break is a huge milestone. I left the building Friday feeling a bit euphoric: I’m at the halfway point! Just when I thought I might like to throw in the towel because one too many people forgot their homework, surprise, Jesus was born so I get a break and stuff. Yay, Jesus!
Seriously though, I'm so grateful for a break. The last week of school I literally felt like I was physically dragging myself to work (the hilarity of that image gets me every time...) In the past couple of months I have felt so stretched thin with responsibilities and requirements, and still trying to be an awesome teacher that I haven’t really let myself attend to thankfulness. I’ve been caught up in "busy stuff"... I feel like there’s always something that demands my time and attention (we all know how bad I am at grading essays…), and the everyday wonderment and excitement about the little things seems to have taken a back seat. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even have time to participate in the November thankfulness series that made appearances across news feeds nation wide (although I do try to find something to be thankful for every day), and even more shamefully, I admit that I might have even fallen into the trap of becoming a bit grouchy with responsibility (don’t act like you’ve never done it!)
Christmas break though has helped me to refocus my thankfulness — to take the time to remember all of my blessings and to truly delight in them. Even in spite of all the complaining I feel like I do because of the daily grind, I am overcome with thankfulness for each and every day and the struggles presented therein. Somedays the struggles are minuscule (I’m still having copy machine issues, in case you’re wondering….), and some days they’re a bit bigger, but I am breathing and working and living and loving. For these blessings, I am thankful.
Currently, I’m sitting in my mom’s kitchen, listening to the sound of her metal spoon stir our Christmas Eve dinner, my brother engrossed in a Duck Dynasty iPad app, my dad wrapping last minute gifts, and my sweet doggies resting as peaceful as the baby Jesus in the manger. Tonight I am thankful. For these people and their constant support — their constant words of encouragement on all of those days when I thought I might be a failure. For the past five months and the lessons they’ve born. For sweet, smiling, seventh graders and their enthusiasm about, well….everything. For my health. For passionate teachers that give the rest of us baby ducklings a ray of hope. For sweet new opportunities and possibilities. I am thankful.
And to think, all of this was made possible by a King in a straw bed. Revel in his love….that’s the REAL blessing this Christmas.
Wherever you are this Holiday season, take a minute to be thankful. Forget the paperwork sitting on your desk, the goals you have to meet, the meetings you’ll attend after the new year….and focus on this exact moment and the blessings that have made it possible.
But the angel said to them: "Do not be afraid for I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, The Lord.” — Luke 2:10-11