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December 13, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Written By: Wendy Cushing
A Walk Down Memory Lane - A Teacher's Memories at Christmas {}

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Well, what do you know? We’re rolling into December and I have not once had to don my haute couture Christmas tree sweatshirt with the blinking lights or my glowing ornament earrings. I’ve got no headache inducing reindeer antler headband sprouting from my head. I haven’t wrapped tinsel around my throat as a necklace one single time.

Yes, this month I’ve been wearing jeans and sweaters that lack noses that glow.

Teacher Holidays

Unemployment has turned this former teacher into a real fashionista. Because I think we all know that to be a truly effective elementary school educator during the month of December, you sometimes just have to go with the tacky-holiday-attire-flow. Whether it’s a high end dreidl emblazoned sweatshirt, the luxury boutique requisite Santa hat, or even just some cutsie snowman earrings, being a teacher means throwing fashion out the window and embracing your inner… child.

Being unemployed during December also means no mugs, no mani/pedi gift cards, no scented votives, and no holiday tea towels. I’m ok with that though; teaching certainly isn’t about getting gifts, and admittedly I already do have enough “Warm Apple Crisp” and “Freshly Hung Linen” scented candles to take me into my golden years. Still, I have to confess what I’ll really miss are those made-with-love ornaments given to me by my students. Now those are really something special.

Each December as I pull my ornaments from storage and begin to decorate my Christmas tree, I am reminded of the wonderful little people who have had such an impact on my life. Even after twenty years, I remember who gave me each ornament, and I reflect briefly on what made that child special. About ¾ of my tree is adorned with ornaments made by or given to me by students. And as I hang them I remember. Always I remember.

I remember Ryan, the smart-as-a-whip, adorable little boy who gave me the grapevine wreath embroidered inside with the words “I love Christmas and Miss Wendy” in 1985. Ryan is 30 years old now and probably has a family of his own. I recall Joey, my little bruiser, a champ at Sight Word Red Rover, who gave me the delicate hand painted, heart shaped glass ornament that I always place gingerly at the very top of my tree. And A.J., with a heart of gold, who gave me that fuzzy little wool lamb.

Decorating my Christmas tree each year is like a walk down memory lane in a career that has afforded me the opportunity to get to know some amazing human beings, who just happened to be under the age of seven.
So this year, though I won’t need to affix that gaudy musical reindeer pin to my red and green sweater, I will still remember the hundreds of students I have been honored to teach every time I place one of those precious ornaments on my tree. Because, while you can take the teacher out of the snowman sweatshirt, you can’t take those fond classroom memories away from the teacher.

What about you? What are some of your fondest or funniest memories of teaching during the holidays?

A Walk Down Memory Lane - A Teacher's Memories at Christmas {}

About the Author
Wendy Cushing has been teaching for 28 years in grades Pre-K-3.  She currently teaches 3rd grade in Monroe, Connecticut.  In addition to teaching, Wendy enjoys pinning teaching ideas she will never use, party planning, freelance writing, and hanging out with her over 300 lbs. worth of dogs.  She is mom to two wonderful daughters, one living in NYC, and the other about to enter 7th grade.

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  • Susan
    December 18, 2010

    Loved the article…its not about what the students give that’s for sure. I’ve been given some old stuffed animals before but I think those were heartfelt gifts. And mugs…I could open my own coffeehouse with all the ones I’ve collected over the years! Christmas is a fun time at school. But we have to be careful because with money being tight, we don’t know what kinds of holidays our kids are able to have. I’m always cautious about asking what they got when break is over.

  • Amy Kelly
    December 18, 2010

    My favorite memory of teaching during the holidays is our video conference with Santa. The kiddos got to “decorate” cookies with icing and sprinkles. I teach at a very low income school and probably 90% of my kids had never done this before. It is so much fun to watch them enjoy something I did all the time as a kid.

  • JWagner
    December 18, 2010

    It always adds to my memories as a first grade teacher each year,as we decorate the classroom tree, make the gifts for the parents, read about Mr. Toomey, and have a high-energy party of gift unwrapping after we play “The Left Family” to figure out who gets what gift! 🙂

  • Teresa Webb
    December 17, 2010

    Really Good Stuff has really good stuff.

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