Thursday, December 24, 2009

It is better to give...

than to receive. That is true, but it changes you to be on the receiving end too.
Have you ever received a gift that took your breath away, that made your heart jump, that brought tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat? Well, that happened to each of the teachers at our school this year. John is our 'neighborhood angel'. He is about 80 years old I would guess, gnarled hands, white hair, a tiny bit stooped, never drawing attention to himself, never going further than our front office. He sometimes visits with the principal in the mornings but none of the teachers has had a meaningful conversation with him. The most I ever said was "Good morning, nice to have you visit us." I would see him linger at the gold painted financial contribution box that is locked to the front table and he would appear to be reading all the bulletins on the wall but I had a strong hunch he was putting money into the box every now and then. So the week before the holiday break each classroom teacher received this card (click on the photo to see the words) hand delivered by our principal:

It was made clear that John does not want recognition. There were suggestions that we put together a basket for him or have the children make some card or artwork but we were told "No, he would be uncomfortable." Several of us googled his name and found nothing; not even an address near our school. We all signed a thank you card for him. I hope he knows the impact this had on us. I did my best to' pay it forward', to be more generous in my own seasonal giving. If there was a 'spirit of Christmas' award, John would be my nominee!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


back into time is such an appealing thing for so many people. It is easy to romanticize about simpler times that in all reality, I am sure, were NOT so simple. This Holiday Village with a model train running through it, is inside the Seattle Center. We had time to walk around and browse before the start of the Black Nativity performance (which was rousing, colorful, and glorious to hear). When I saw the village I just knew I had to take pictures for my mom. She has a large Dickens' Village she assembles every December and it is enjoyed by all who come to visit.

Yesterday I took the light rail from Tukwilla into downtown. This is not the most efficient way for us to go downtown; it tacks 20 minutes onto the trip because the nearest station is not convenient to our part of town. But since we have this new, much touted rail system, I was intrigued and had to give it a try.

For the people lucky enough to live in the neighborhoods near the stations it is a clean, quiet, and VERY quick way to get downtown. Now that it serves the airport it is also convenient for tourists to get to and from the city's center. For me it was just a novel experience. The views you get are certainly not worth much. The rail runs alongside I5 and through lower income neighborhoods, zipping past small strip malls with signs for cigar shops, teriyaki joints, and nail salons. Once downtown I was overwhelmed by the crowds and the cacophonous mixture of street musicians, a choral group and traffic. All the stores where I shopped had lines at the counters, which is a good economic sign considering the times. There were many more street people with homeless signs and stories of woe written on cardboard and echoed in the creases of grimy clothes and unshaven faces. The Washington Lottery had a mobile unit parked at Westlake Center and they were doing a brisk business. The only place I did not encounter a line was at the Group Health clinic where I got my H1N1 shot and I was glad of that because if I had to wait I might have walked away. The best part of taking public transportation is not having to find and pay for parking. I took the return trip south to the park and ride, picked up my car and met the daughter at Westfield mall. We saw the movie Precious which is NOT a fun uplifting holiday movie. I left the movie marveling at how some people can have so much resilience in the face of such a grim, oppressive, downright evil environment.

Once at home we fixed a yummy and fun dinner of a salad and a Swiss cheese and beer fondue; all ready to heat and serve, thanks to Trader Joes'. We dipped cubes of french bread into the creamy cheese, each of us vying for the last smear of cheese in the pot. Then we watched the last episode of Dexter, Season 1. I love these lazy evenings with the three of us on the couch or crouched on the floor around the crossword puzzle.
Later nights and lounging mornings, what a 'Break' from the teaching routine! But now the sky is light and I had best put on my running shoes so I won't feel so guilty about eating all that cheese, wine, eggnog, and sweet treats!