Christmas Past

One week from today it will be December 25, when folk all over will awake with excitement and anticipation of a new doll, a bicycle, a prime rib roast, or figgy pudding (whatever that is. Sounds awful.) As I laid in bed this morning and contemplated another arrival of Christmas, I was engulfed with fond memories. Then this afternoon, the UPS left a box at my door. I checked the label to be sure it was mine because my boxes usually come emblazoned with a capital A.

Pardon my digression, forty-seven (47) years ago, I was principal of an Ohio vocational high school and advisor to the yearbook. In those days, vocational education was a “dirty” word, until one’s car wouldn’t start or they needed a bricklayer. High school counselors encouraged masses of alleged misfits to go to our school, for they’d never be successful at doing anything else. In short, the vast number of those junior and seniors who enrolled came with labels, such as loser, bad boy, incorrible, juvenile delinquent, or drug abuser. Now I had begun my teaching career there four years earlier and had experienced just “normal” teenagers. Sure, they were different from the highly-motivated, academic superstars, but they were authentic. I learned early on that if I ask a question, I would receive an honest, candid answer. In fact, I loved them for their no bs answers, and admittedly I enjoyed their shenanigans.

When it came time for me to select the yearbook for the 1974-5 edition, I chose Paula. She was an enigma: extremely bright and creative, yet wrapped herself in a cloak of mystery. I was amazed by her perceptive view of the world and her level of adult understanding. In fact, she peppered numerous yearbook pages with the proverbial wise beyond her years quotes, from such people like Billy Graham, Robert Kennedy, and Winston Churchill.

I opened the UPS box today and read the enclosed card. Then I opened the pictured tin. OMG! Cookies from my homeland. What a sight to behold. Plus, each one brought back a taste of memories from Christmases past. Excuse me, while I savor the biscotti and reminisce about my years at the vocational school, which turned out successful graduates, like Paula, a social worker; Tony, an Ohio State University welding professor; Jamie, a hotel manager; and Sandi, a chef with her own Cleveland restaurant.

I’m honored to be remembered forty-seven years later by Paula and all the other students I taught along the way. But believe me, the pleasure was all mine; I loved what I taught, and I loved who I taught. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember those who brought and bring us great joy. Happiest of Holidays.

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