If she had her druthers, my lovely daughter Hannah would start playing Christmas music on Dec. 26. That would give her 364 days to get in the holiday spirit each year. Likewise, my wife thinks the most wonderful time of the year commences roughly after Labor Day. At least, that’s when the Amazon packages filled with Christmas goodies for all the offspring and offspring of offspring begin arriving. I’m not kidding. I considered purchasing stock in the company just to offset marginally what we’ve contributed to the bottom line on Jeff Bezos’ ledger.
As for the zeal these loved ones muster during this time of year, I doff the hat they gave me last holiday and profess considerable admiration. It warms my heart when Christmas lasts more than a day, and these two significant women in my life have remarkably managed to extend “the spirit” not just in time measured by calendars and clocks but through lives that enhance all the other lives around them.
It probably should be noted here that both Hannah and Susan are school teachers. Great ones, at that. To wit: Hannah actually convinced a bunch of 10th graders that the most important assignment she was giving them this year would not focus on geography, despite the fact that she was teaching a geography class. Instead, just prior to the fourth Thursday of November she asked each pupil to fill out a card noting that for which they were thankful. “And, by thankful,” she said, “I mean put down what you are truly thankful for.” There were more than a few tears streaming down the cheeks of folks who read the completed assignments on a wall outside Hannah’s classroom. Her geography students apparently discovered where the heart is located.
Susan has been plying her craft for about as long as Hannah has been alive. That means she has influenced the lives of literally thousands of sixth and seventh graders.
One of them, Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Vaati, for short) now plays for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. He earned a Super Bowl Ring playing for the Philadelphia Eagles a few years back.
Vaati is about to be 30 years old, which means he hasn’t sat in my wife’s class for nearly two decades. Not long ago, Susan received a note from Vaati thanking her for investing in his life during his formative years. He told her that she didn’t just teach him science, she taught him how to be a better kid and how to prepare himself to be a better man. “I just want to thank you for that,” he wrote.
I share those stories to emphasize this one: Being a blessing to others is the best holiday music and/or gift anyone can share. Even – especially – beginning on Dec. 26.