- Joseph tells me that he is going to see Santa on Saturday. And this time he isn't going to jump off his lap and run away. "Why did you run away, Joseph?" "Because he was real."
- The envelope says "Mrs. Miuls", written in obvious 5-year-old painstakingly try-my-hardest-this-is-special handwriting. However, as my master of tall tales this year, Jackson explains that his dad (a former student) wrote it. "He misses you."
- Javon reports that he is leaving early on Tuesday. "I have to see the judge. He is giving me a forever family." Here stands a brave survivor-child whose eyes say that for the first time in his life, he finally has found security and love, and hope. He is getting, and giving, a miraculous gift this Christmas. Stifling tears and a growing lump in my throat, I can only nod in reply.
- A noisy cafeteria doesn't seem fitting for the day's Christmas turkey dinner. Instead, we are eating lunch in the classroom. Lights are low, Jim Brickman is playing softly in the background. With the help of their young imaginations, our room becomes a "fancy restaurant", including napkins on laps and table manners. I haven't cued them, but the room is nearly silent. The children seem relieved, even. Unexpected and welcome, peace and wonder is right here, as little ones enjoy their good food and speak softly with friends in a quiet place.
- Zachary knows his turn is coming to receive my Christmas gift. He goes to his backpack, reaches deep down, and carries a small item toward me. "This is a present for you, Mrs. Miles." I should be more grateful (more child-like), but in my adult busy-ness, I only offer a quick thanks and keep moving. Later, I see. Again, a child teaches me another life lesson. And on my desk I will keep Zachary's gift: a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer, half-full. I need the daily reminder to give simply, from as pure and generous heart as that little boy.
I'm thankful for the lessons and laughter that my kindergartners give to me. I'm thankful for this morning, too, and the days of rest ahead. I'm ready now to get ready for Christmas. And if I am wise, I will do so with as much a sense of child-like wonder as I possibly can.
"Let the children come to me... for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:13