Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thankful Post

As I was zipping down the freeway to school today, to teach students who complained mightily about having class on the day before Thanksgiving--but who all showed up for class (all but one, but he's been celebrating his 21st birthday for about two weeks now, complete with hangovers, new earring and a new tattoo, so I didn't expect him)--I was talking to my mother about how I think she's a terrific Mom.

My compliment to her had been prompted by her observation about how terrific my husband is (which he is).  And like thankfulness begetting thankfulness, when I arrived home on this Turkey Eve, I found a lovely note in my email box from a student I'd had last year.  It read:

During last two semesters I couldn't help but think just how much your Eng 101 class improved my ability to write academic papers. Not only did your classroom instruction stick with me, but I have also referred to the dozens of immaculate handouts, rubrics, samples, and activities you created for us on countless occasions. So, thank you. Thank you for creating a positive and productive classroom setting, hard copies of helpful hints. . . and your time. I really appreciate it and have raved about you to other college students inquiring about “good English teachers."

Is thankfulness like that?  If so, quickly express your thankfulness to someone, letting the good feelings flow on past you as if you are going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house for a grand feast not only of turkey and potatoes and pie, but for a grand meal of gratitude--a necessary break from the histrionic chatter elsewhere in our lives.

Last night I could see that a few houses already had their holiday lights up, the Christmas season upon us one more time.  But instead of feeling grumpy about how this vast wasteland of material excess was intruding upon my favorite holiday, it felt more like watching the world decorate for a big party, complete with party favors.  It is always like this--that we have a moment of thanksgiving, and push onwards to the party?

I know that this year I plan to linger at the table, joining with our son Peter, his wife Megan and their dog, Allie.  Maybe I'll enjoy a story about Megan's work on the Sacramento Delta.  Or listen to Peter tell a funny one about writing websites for a living.  Or maybe I'll tell one on my students, or on myself.  Sitting there, sated on turkey and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, I know it's seeing the world in the rosy light of harvest, of abundance, and that all too soon, they'll get back in the car and drive away and I won't see them for months.  I'll go back to the grading, the lesson prep, and Thanksgiving will be over for another year.  Yet thanks giving can go on, casting its golden glow over teachers who sit at their computers on a chilly afternoon, surprised and grateful for the impulse that prompted a student to write, to say a thank you.

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