Friday, 23 December 2011

Peace or Panic?

Are you, like me, the kind of adult who falls into a bit of a 'bah humbug' attitude to Christmas?  I must confess, as I've gotten older, my family larger and then older, and busier I find the lead up to Christmas quite overwhelming.  Each year I think to myself that I will get gifts, and things like that, organised well before December.  And then December rolls around and I find myself shopping amidst a crowd of others trying to figure out what on earth to buy for those I care about.

This year I think I've broken through all those feelings of being overwhelmed and it has all to do with knowing what I want to give people.  My own family can be amongst the most difficult of all, and yet this year it has been no problem.  All of the kids have had things on their Christmas list that give me a great deal of joy to be able to give.  In fact Dh, who the hardest of all to buy for, gave me some insight in the middle of the year and I've had his gift stashed away for three months!  The rest of the bits and pieces that end up happening around all those main family gifts has also come easily, again with the ideas already in place. I wonder, did the Wise Men who came to worship Jesus at his birth also feel overwhelmed and stressed about what to give the baby king?

Now that I've figured out what it is that had turned me into a scrooge, I'm hoping the Christmas's ahead will be calmer and more peaceful.  Our summer holiday is also set to be a more peaceful affair as we spend more time at home and holiday with different friends this year. 

I hope you're able to identify the things that have you in a 'tizz' as you prepare for Christmas.  May this year truly be one where you feel more peace than panic.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

And Then There Were Five

As Christmas draws closer we have already begun family celebrations.  Our begin with my husband's side of the family gathering on the Sunday a week before Christmas.  It has taken some time, but we have now settled to enjoying the whole day together and then making a camp of it for a couple of extra days.  It helps to have a campsite in the family.

I've spent three days watching as 15 of the cousins have played and tumbled about together.  It is truly a precious gift to see young people from 22 years all the way down to 5 years enjoying one another, not to mention the adults.  We've enjoyed beautiful meals together and all but demolished a whole box of cherries.  What a blessing to live in an area where cherries are grown and to be able to buy them directly from the farmer!

And now we're back to just being the five of us again....after being a whole clan of shared lives and adventures together.

What a wonderful way to begin the school holidays and the Christmas season.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the week and celebrating with my extended family.  There is more food to be pondered, considered and prepared.  There are more meals to be shared with those we care about.  There are gifts to be showered on others.

What do you enjoy about the lead up to Christmas?

Friday, 16 December 2011

No More School, No More Books....

Well...we don't have much experience in our school with the rest of that poem, but school IS finished for the year.  Before us stretches out six weeks of summer holiday ... well, five weeks for me.

There is something very precious about the end to the school year.  My pigeon hole has been constantly refilled with little gifts and cards with beautiful expressions of appreciation for the way I have blessed others through the year.  There are class parties throughout the school.  We enjoy a whole-school assembly, reminiscing about the joys and highlights of the year.  We farewell people (OK, not so fun!). When I told the Year 6's that I would have the privilege of working with them a little again next year they were as excited as I was.  They are so incredibly precious and they've grown so much.  We all have.

Today, with no students remaining the staff spent time packing up and have enjoyed a final meal together.  I am again reminded that I work with the most amazing and beautiful people. And I wondered today, why it is that we wait until the end of the year to express our feelings for one another, appreciating the time, talents, gifts and blessings that others pour out on us and our school community.  I don't usually make resolutions for the new year, but I think it a worthy pursuit to encourage others throughout the year.  Don't you agree?

As much as I need a break and I'm quite ready to rest I can't wait to return to Work Break and catch up with my colleague-friends.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tribute to a Fine Teacher

My farewell poem to the man who has taught two of our children over four of the last five years. A man who talks about sowing into the lives of children and "sucking the life" out of every moment. A teacher who is one-of-a-kind and whom we will miss incredibly.

So Long, Mr W

Sowing into tender souls – it’s what you say’s important
Sowing what I speculated, what is it you’ve supported?
Stuffing stuff up your nose and serenading the times tables
Simulated accents, backwards names – they are not fables
Silliness and nonsense, hilarity and mirth
Snickering, tomfoolery – is this all that you have birthed?

So much more, I’d dare to say, you’ve sown into young lives
So much more than we suspected, within the walls of your class hive
Soaking in the Spirit on each scion in your care
Sowing love, you have taught them to be all that they would dare
Sucking life from every day, that’s what’s been important
Stretching, training, loving them – that’s what you’ve supported.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Catching Up

Time really flies fast around this time of year!  Since I last posted many, many things have come and gone.  Things like graduation nights, a wedding anniversary, the end of Girls' Brigade, a community Carols night with our lower Primary families, the beginning of my summer Uni subject.  Tomorrow we celebrate Dh's birthday - I've already told him he needs to do a load of washing and watch TV.  Both recently-acquired items that were really for him.  I must confess to doing more washing than normal in the last two weeks, purely to watch the machine turn the clothes around and around.  It's such a novelty to be able to see into the washing machine and we're loving having a front-loader.

Christmas shopping has begun semi-earnestly.  A great dent was made with online shopping, which I very much preferred.  Next year perhaps I'll get organised early enough and do almost all of it online.  I really don't enjoy shopping, never mind the increased crowds and shopping mall rage impoliteness!

Overlaying all the craziness of the past weeks has been the delicate lesson of learning to listen and heed the Sovereign One whose will and timing are perfect.  These things often come with their share of anxiety and uncertainty and we find ourselves cautiously taking just one step at a time.

The week ahead, for us, brings the end of the school year.  We'll take a couple of days spending time with Dh's family and then finish our Christmas preparations.  The children are earnestly requesting the opportunity to shop for one another.  I think an early morning trip might work best for us all!  It is a tradition we began a few years ago with a $5/person budget to teach the children to consider the person they are giving to.  It is beautiful to watch them take on this challenge in more mature ways.