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Friday, December 20, 2013

The Charlie Brown funk of Christmas

Christmas is only a few days away and when I look around, I'm feeling more like Charlie Brown than Buddy the Elf...searching for the magic of Christmas that carol singers and advertising copy writers sell as soon as those of us in the northeast begin to search for a warm blanket on those chilly fall nights.

I understand that Christmas is not about stuff. I am the first to toot that horn. And, I honor all that Christmas is. But for some reason, the joy of the holiday season is as elusive as catching Santa in my chimney.

When I look around, I know I have so much to be grateful for. I am married to a man who truly brings joy to my life. I am blessed with family and friends who wrap me in love and laughter and inspire me to be the best me I can be.

I am grateful for a career that challenges me and gives me hope for the future.

But this Christmas thing...sometimes I just don't get it. Everyone is seems to be is so happy. Are they faking it? What am I missing? Why do I get into an annual funk?

Perhaps the ghosts of infertility past, present and future rear their ugly heads. There's definitely a longing when the Christmas cards begin to flood our mailbox, dripping with sweetness enough to give you cavities. But we love the children in our lives, and again, I'm grateful for the opportunity to see these families grow and change.

And we have a good life, so it can't be all that.

So what's with the funk?

Maybe that's exactly gratitude for all that I do have, I can't help but think of those who don't.

I think of my students, living in local motels because they've lost their homes.

I think of the homeless, shivering outside at night with no one to call them to dinner, or later, to bed because they've fallen asleep on the couch.

I think of our military and their families, anyone separated and longing to be held by the ones they love.

I think of the families who are hungry at night; parents worrying about filling their babies' stomachs, as well as their stockings.

I think of the families broken, in body, heart and spirit...deplete of the faith that life can get better.

I think of the addicts who, for one reason or another, just can't keep it together long enough to make a difference for themselves or their families.

I think of those who have experienced loss, those will go to bed alone on Christmas Eve and wake up alone on Christmas morning, longing for a place to go, a place to feel welcomed and wanted, a few more minutes with someone taken too soon.

The funk is just that...a funk...and thankfully, it passes as the promise of the new year emerges like a rising sun.

Similar to media images that sell the myth of perfection and body types, media images sell Norman Rockwell-esque holidays. And like Rockwellian images and perfect bodies, only a few fit the bill. Our holiday experiences, like our bodies, our families and our lives, are diverse. They have the opportunity to bring us joy and peace or longing, depending on how we see and react to them.

For me, I know that my annual Charlie Brown funk comes on like an early setting sun in a New England winter, but luckily, it passes. Rather than berate myself for feeling sad when the rest of the world is seems happy, I can briefly acknowledge those feelings of loss and helplessness and put them to good use. There's always a way to lend a helping hand, and, if for some reason, that's not an option, I can always send prayers, positive energy, love and light.

2014 is on its way. Here's to sending 2013 on its way with the best intention possible, with a spirit of gratitude for the blessings of the year and hope for all that's to come.


  1. Your post struck a lot of chords with me. I think it's the case of reality intruding on beliefs for a better world for everyone. As teachers, we come into contact with kids from all sorts of homes -- broken and otherwise -- and that reality that we just can't fix everything is sobering. I try to find the small moments that make a difference and keep my heart connected to family.
    Thanks for posting such a heartfelt piece of writing this morning.
    May the small moments bring you joy over the coming days, and beyond.
    PS -- I am here as part of my own #nerdlution of 50 comments on 50 blogs over 50 days. I appreciate your sharing.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I am thrilled that you stopped by and very much appreciate your comments.

      As districts, we get caught up in accountability...test scores and growth percentages. And while evidence of learning is important, we lose sight of the fact that kids are our curriculum.

      Middle school (what I teach) will never make or break anyone; however, the relationships we build with students and families can make a real difference.

      Thanks again for your visit and for your comments.

      Happy holidays to you.