There is one thing that I can say about the first half of December. It certainly has been eventful. In the first 13 days of the month, we have had First Reconciliation, Mass with a bishop, a Christmas program and Donuts with Dad.
Ever agree to do something that at the time seemed like a good idea, but as the task grew nearer, you had second thoughts, as in “Why didn’t my so-called friends stop me?” Back in September my principal called me into the office and his first words were, “Now don’t freak out.”
The last time I had a meeting with him that began in a similar fashion, I walked in as a first grade teacher and walked out as a first-slash-second grade teacher, and of course nothing freaks out a teacher more than being told by the principal, not to freak out.
He explained that he had come from a principals’ meeting and Bishop Binzer had offered to come to schools to celebrate Mass with the students, and of course my principal invited him to do so, obviously without consulting the Mass schedule.
Want to guess whose class was responsible for the Mass that day? However I was so relieved that I wasn’t going to be a first-slash-second-slash-third grade teacher I readily agreed. After all, a bishop is just a priest with more parishioners, right? And my class is capable of anything, right? And Dec. 7 was way, way, way off in the future.
It was about midway through October that I began to have some qualms. I mean a BISHOP was going to be the celebrant and my class is just a bunch of little kids and December was closing in fast! Normally the children and I plan the Mass on Monday, practice at church on Thursday and Mass is on Friday. This time I decided two weeks were needed.
Now I did catch a break. Thanksgiving was early this year and we returned to school with two full weeks to plan and practice for Mass. The first week the children with reading parts read their parts to the class every day. The next week we had a couple of practices at church. I had to admit things were going along according to schedule. The readers had steadily improved and only paused a nanosecond before reading words like arrogant, Lebanon and tyrant. The children in the processions found their places and walked in a reverent manner down the aisle. I had my anxiety dream a week early and my stress rash was developing nicely.
On the morning of the Mass, I knew that to keep the children calm I had to project an aura of calm confidence. In other words, I had to put on an Oscar worthy performance. Well, I hate to be anti-climactic but the bishop was as nice as could be and the children did an excellent job, exceeding my hopes that we would set neither bishop nor church ablaze. Actually one of my students summed it up nicely. As we were leaving church he looked up at me and said, “That wasn’t so bad.” I heartily agreed.
The second graders received First Reconciliation on Wednesday, Dec. 5. The next day they were guests of honor at our traditional donut reception. Of course since that day was Dec. 6, St. Nicholas Day, we had a special visitor. Right before recess the preschoolers through fourth graders left their shoes outside the classroom doors for St. Nick to fill.
Our Christmas program was Monday, Dec. 10. The program opened with all the preschoolers singing Christmas carols. They gave a very enthusiastic performance, especially during Jingle Bells as they accompanied themselves with jingle bells.
Following the preschoolers was my group, the kindergarten through third graders, or as I like to call them the cherubs. This year the children sang songs in English, French, and Latin. The highlight of the evening was the performance by the newly formed fourth through eighth grade bell choir, directed by probably the bravest man on earth, or at least in Greenville, Tim Nealeigh.
The students had had no experience with bells until they began in September. For their first song, they played “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” as my group sang the song. The bell choir then performed several other carols. For the grand finale everyone, preschool to eighth grade sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Today, Dec. 13, was Donuts with Dad. Students and their fathers enjoyed donuts before school. It was a grand success. I have a suggestion. Let’s not have Donuts with Dad 12 days before Christmas. Between the sugar and the anticipation of Christmas, my class was so high I was tempted to ask them to dust off the ceiling fans.
Have a Merry Christmas!