The advent of Christmas has a way of stopping a busy person in order to relive a memory. With all of the Christmas songs playing on the radio, decorating, shopping, and baking, I know this to be true- as it has happened to me numerous times these past few weeks.
The moment I hear the opening of Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" or "I'll Be Home for Christmas", I am a little girl again, asking my dad why he gets so sad when that song is playing. Daddy served 5 straight years in the African shores during World War II, and he was away from his family for 5 consecutive Christmases. I remember his sincere and emotional telling of what it was like to be in the desert during the war, and to have temperatures plummet from 100 degrees in the daytime to below freezing in the night. When I was old enough to understand, he talked about the great loneliness of being a soldier away from home for such a long period of time, and he would hug me a little tighter when he talked about how grateful he was to have a wonderful wife and 3 children to dispel those old memories and to make new ones (although the sad ones could never be erased completely.)
I was going through a box of ornaments I have not looked in since my husband died in 2012. Scott and I were very big on Christmas; we bought and decorated a fresh cut Christmas tree 12-14 feet high (in our living room), and wrapped the beams of that room with live white pine and red bows, with crocheted snowflakes hanging from the beams. Outside decorations were just as elaborate, and it was exhausting! The first year we moved to our new (but old-1936) house, the tree was so tall and so big, and we did not have enough ornaments. I had a stash of scores of little stuffed animals (gifts from students), so they were all corralled and placed on hooks to add on the tree with the Christmas bulbs and the 1200 lights. As I looked through that giant tub of ornaments, I remembered so many former students, and I thought about special moments that Scott and I enjoyed with friends and family when decorating our giant trees through the years. One year, a friend - who was a plasterer - brought his stilts to wear while decorating! Sometimes we had 10 or more friends decorating for the evening, as putting up such a giant tree was a very big job. The laughter and camaraderie still echo in my heart, although I will never see such wonderful days again.
Inside another box, I found a Christmas tree - a tiny one, with white lights, just 16 inches tall and fully decorated, which was given to me by a friend in 1980, when I was getting divorced from my first husband. Sue knew that I would not be having a tree, or any other decorations, that year, as my life was in turmoil. It was to be a sad Christmas, and she just could not tolerate the idea of no Christmas tree in my life. That sweet friend died from Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2003, after we had been friends and colleagues for almost 30 years. We shared so many discussions about school and teaching, marriage and divorce throughout those years, and I remember so many moments in which I was on the receiving end of her kindness.
All of these memories were made through very personal connections, through connecting with others real conversations, with solid eye contact and careful listening skills.
I don't remember the years, or the days of the week that so many of these events happened, but the memories are etched in my mind. I recall so many childhood moments with my parents and my brothers, and when we were with our parents, they gave us their full attention. Of course, there were no cell phones and electronic devices then, so bonding was certainly easier than it is in today's connected world. Upon reflecting on so many memories, may I make a suggestion? How about disconnecting from devices this Christmas season in order to truly connect with family members? Give your children, spouse, parents, siblings, and friends the attention they desire.What a great gift - to share feelings, to have someone listen and care, and to be understood. Those moments of personal time shared are the ones that will be remembered.
Wishing you a blessed holiday season - with new and better personal connections!
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®
Christmas at our house, 1991
Buying a GIANT tree, 1994- Scott is on the far right
1955- George, Daddy, me. George is 5, Dad is 35, and I just turned 3
Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at email@example.com The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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