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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Friday, December 24, 2004

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

On a day like Christmas Eve, most people are doing things like last minute Christms shopping or spending time with family. Then there are the "abnormal" folks like myself that are here, blogging away to near complete strangers in cyberspace. But before you go setting an extra place for me at your table, let me explain. My shopping is done, the presents are wrapped (as of this morning) and the quality time with family, well, that will come later.

It also needs to be said that I hate buying presents. This is not because I am a shallow person who only likes receiving them. This is because I usually have no idea what to get the people in my life. My parents are next to impossible. Neither one of them has any hobbies, unless you count shopping itself as a hobby. Every year it's another sweater, more cologne or a gift certificate to do what they love to do most, eat. I can't shop for my boyfriend because he likes to pick out his own gifts. I tried being creative and picking out something on my own for him one year. I learned the hard way to never make that mistake twice.

So I found this year that I poured all my Christmas spirit and creative energies into all things third grade. Since this was my first year with a classroom of my own, I dreamed big. Between books, the internet and fellow teachers, on holidays like this one, my cup runneth over.

The week before Christmas should be, in theory, easier to teach. The tests and assessments are put aside for a bit and its place are "cotton ball bearded Santa projects" and "what Christmas means to me" journal entries. But believe it or not, doing a lot of "nothing" actually takes a lot of planning, and time.

In Social Studies, I gave my class a project called Christmas Around The World. No mystery here, the name is exactly as it sounds. Everyone had a partner. I gave them information on a country. They had to find out three new facts about their country, along with where it fell on a map, and present their facts to the class. The cherry on top was they had to tell the class why their country was or was not different from America's way of celebrating Christmas. Amazingly enough, this went pretty well.

In Reading, I read the story "The Polar Express". I made the class sit on the carpet as if they were on a train, handing them boarding passes as they "got on". I also made hot cocoa for them to drink as they listened like they drink in the story. Finally, for those who don't know at the end of the story we learn that only people who can hear the bell believe in Santa. So I made everyone in my class bell necklaces although wouldn't you know it, I had one student who doesn't believe. It's ok though, the one rotten ornament did not shake down the whole tree, so to speak.

At Centers, I had the students email Santa Claus. I printed out all of their oh so individualistic form letter replies and put them in their mailboxes. Wouldn't you know one of my students got a letter that said..."I hear you've been a good girl this year". Only problem being the student who received it was in fact, a boy. Another student's letter had the line, "I'll be coming down your chimney this year...". The boy doesn't have a chimney. In defense of Santa, it's really the kids fault. They didn't read all the questions carefully before entering their list, namely "Are you a boy or a girl?" and "Do you have a chimney?" Leave it to the little rugrats to finally proofread when you don't want them to. So a few students were inadvertently mad at Santa Claus. I told them that they weren't being fair. Santa's a busy man. Maybe the elves had to help out answering the letters. Santa's also entitled to make mistakes. I was grasping at straws. Oh well, it was a cute idea in theory.

Finally, for the piece de resistance, in writing, I had my students write their perfect Christmas recipes. These aren't recipes like the, "show-me-somebody-who actually-makes-this, figgy-pudding" or the "bite-down-hard-and-you'll-lose-a-tooth, recipe for grandma's fruitcake". Oh no, these were abstract recipes containing all of the ingredients that make a perfect Christmas. For instance, you might have 1 pint of family, 2 cups of friends, a pinch of cheer and a dash of laughter. Then they had to explain how to put it all together and I had them copy their recipes into an actual blank book. I'm proud to say it is the best project we've done all year. Needless to say (although here I go anyway, so really, what a stupid expression) that's a project that will be predominantly placed for many months to come.

I even sent out my Christmas cards early this year. Unfortunately, everytime I talk or even think about sending Christmas cards I hear that annoying Paul Lind-like voice from the "12 Pains Of Christmas" squealing, "SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS!" You know the one I'm talking about. Even if you don't think you know, you know. Trust me. I realized after my last post that I should have included that on my "stab yourself in the eye" list. My bad. I have found though that the whole Christmas card tradition doesn't seem to be catching on with my generation. Most of my friends don't send cards. Unless of course, it's merely the circles I travel in. I don't know. You tell me.

Finally, today is the last chance, if you haven't done so already to nominate a fellow blogger via the Best of Blog Awards. Thanks to Jennie (at least I think it was you), for giving me a shout out. Apparently they will be reviewing candidates over the next week or so to select finalists in all categories. I guess that means we should all be on our best blogging behavior over the next few days.

And to think, all this time we thought it was only Santa who would see us when we were sleeping and when we were awake.



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