Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Counting my blessings

I just got back from my Christmas in Cape Breton and I've been thinking of all kinds of things I should write about on my blog. I opened it up and realized I hadn't posted in a month. I'm going to try to post more often this coming year.

In a later post I will write about what has been going on in my classroom, why I was out sick for almost a week and what is coming up in 2012. But for now I'd like to write something a little more personal.

While I was away, I was thinking about just how lucky I am to have grown up in the family that I have and to be surrounded by so much love. I think that Christmas with my family is just about the best thing ever. Growing up, I thought that everyone had Christmases just like mine and I was confused when people would complain about going to see their families or when they wouldn't be excited about big family get togethers. Now that I'm older and I've seen some examples of families that are not like mine I can understand where they're coming from, and I feel grateful that I am so lucky.

My husband and I left on Saturday, Christmas Eve, because we had school right up until Friday, Christmas Eve Eve, and drove for 6 hours to get to my aunt's house in Cape Breton. This is my husband's least favourite part, the drive. I don't mind it that much. Growing up it was about 4-5 hours and we did it several times a year. This year we grabbed some CD's and took turns choosing which one to listen to.

Christmas Eve was spent at my aunt's. Normally we go to my aunt and uncle's down the road but they weren't there this year because my cousin has a baby. Instead we hosted, had some snacky foods, played a game of wizard, then some of my aunts and uncles and cousin's showed up. We spent the whole night in the kitchen eating, drinking and playing a game called "Violence" which in some other circles is called celebrities. When everyone left, my parents, my aunt, my husband and I opened our stockings and exchanged gifts. For the last few years we have cut back on presents. We mostly donate to charity and give things to each other in our stockings. We started opening our presents on Christmas Eve some time when I was a teenager. I, who was always the keeper of traditions, fought against it for a long time but now I enjoy it. The main reason for this is that we host Christmas dinner and Christmas morning is too busy with cooking the turkey and vegetables.

Christmas day we had 15 people for dinner. My brother, his wife and their 2 year old son came up. I was so happy that they were there this year. It was my nephew's first Cape Breton Christmas and he provided most of the entertainment for the day. We do crackers, we wear the hats in the crackers, we sing karaoke, play more silly games, and of course eat way too much.

Boxing Day we relaxed all morning and too the dogs for a snowy walk on the golf course and then headed up to Glace Bay to my aunt and uncle's house. Another feast plus a game of Apples to Apples. Lots of laughter and catching up. My mom has 5 brothers and one sister. All of her brothers have at least 2 children and one family has 5 children. I have lots of cousins and most of them are around my age. There isn't one person in my family that I don't get along with. We laughed so hard we cried several times over the weekend.

I'm so lucky to have grown up and to continue to have a loving, supportive family that is so close. We've known tough times but have become stronger for it. Many of my relatives are teachers or are retired teachers.

In some ways, I feel like my experiences have not prepared me for helping my students with what they are going through. I haven't live through a life that resembles theirs. I haven't had to deal with divorce or poverty or racism or violence or abuse or neglect. I've had some difficulties in my life, but nothing major. But I think in another way, my safe, secure life has made it easier for me to help them. I was taught to be empathetic and caring by empathetic and caring people. I was shown how to love and be respectful by people modeling these things in my life. I hope that I can give even a small portion of that love and respect to my students.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful holiday.

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