Ghosts and Memories of Christmas Pasts

One pound of turkey breast!  I exclaimed this on Christmas Eve as I went through Chick Fil A in Seaford to Alastornia (a pretty great student who is capable of a million things), a fellow Woodbridge student.  I literally, less than half an hour ago bought a POUND of turkey breast, buried it under a ton of packages in the car, and upon coming out of the store with gifts for the DOGS, found they (whichever of the three) had pushed the obstructions I had blocking them from the front seat, noses through the items all the way to the floor, and had devoured the turkey breast, the label of how much I had purchased- still being licked, left behind for posterity.  Not exactly one of the most favorite memories of starting the day before Christmas, but certainly a memory that will stick with me.  Never underestimate the power of the nose, willpower, and ability, Wriggley, Amaya, and Dane teach me that every day 🙂   

One of the largest changes in my life was adjusting to a life in Mexico that encouraged the chill factor – it took months, well years, to realize the culture of Mexico, first and foremost, encouraged the relay race of to do’s that most experience every day, to put that into the back seat and push forward the memories, the past, family, friends, and moments and have them b e more important that anything you need to do on a preconceived list, that society and culture in some parts of the world, especially the United States, has a tendency to push to the forefront.

Thanks to the countless students, friends, and experiences I have in moments that have pushed the value of these categories, I am finding the past time I have been lucky enough to absorb, has become part of my present as well. The trick is to not just feel this way around the holidays, but to relish and continue this importance all year round, now that we are officially one day past Christmas 2019. Definitely a few examples can exemplify this…

Indya.  One of the most hype and energetic students, Indya this year portrayed what the holiday, and everyday is about.  In doing the famed Secret Santa I have done for years, I was lucky enough to have Indya as my Secret Santa.  I say lucky because her spirit indicated all that Christmas was about.  Her gifts – phenomenal, because they were created by her.  As I opened the bag she presented me and saw the ornament

with erasers and the phrase she created and inserted, the plannerIMG_2346.JPG she gave me knowing my erratic errands and plans, theIMG_2345.JPG canvas she painted for me – all of it?- it spelled out someone took the time to observe and know me and provide gifts that said that very thing- that is what holidays are about- knowing each other and celebrating each other- the flaws, the good aspects, the celebration on individuals the whole thing.  It wasn’t just that, Indya literally was dancing on each foot as each items was opened to see my reaction, she was THAT excited about the items she gifted to me, and she should have been.  The items she created and was giving- meant more that any items you could go out and try to hunt down on a shelf, these were items that was bring to memory the excitement of a holiday – for years too come, and that is what we need to celeb rate every day, to relax what I call the “hamster wheel syndrome” – goals of working more, earning more, faster, more, more more….it wears you down and does not leave you with anything but the ghosts of a past that were full of trying to achieve more on the success scale, leaving behind some of the best years with family and friends that could be possible.

Yes, the whirlwind of controversy continues in all areas of the world – decline of natural resources for more economic growth and value, cesspools of politics that continue to dominate headlines- but each of us have a choice. We can decide to plug in to healthy outlets of productivity, creating healthy microcosms of what we want to see in the world in our own backyard, making relationships and visits among each other despite all types of technology, and making the time for events we want to see occur day to day, and as a result, this push back of reclaiming a life less made of lists, and more of the ghosts of those hurried to do lists, replaced with moments that will stay with us – priceless.

I say this tongue in cheek – I find myself this year wanting to do more visiting of historical places that make the state of Delaware – well Delaware.  Wanting to see underground railroad sites, more lights and using a new home as a home base for friends, get togethers and special events, and yes- this change starts with us and the actions we decide on to set a path of what our future will look like.  Getting together with family that hasn’t been able to do so in however long?  That was a great day and way we should spend every holiday – and a memory that will last forever.

The last few days of school, just being in the public school atmosphere, was hard to jump into the routine of enjoying the holiday to come, with so many to do’s and haunting of a schedule that would run out before we get to half of what we wanted.  That is okay, the pace of trying to race all the time and get deals, get tasks, does not long as the push back you can give to allow for more events that bring people together that might not have the large numbers of family and friends to enjoy the same things others can.  That is why those can do these types of get-togethers, SHOULD to change the reflection of how life is better with those we surround ourselves with that could appreciate the same aspects of life. Syerra as a student grabs onto countless things that need to be done in the WHS Library Media Center and helps run a Library Media Center that reaches out to all aspects of the community, and her gift, on top on me running her back and forth all day to get so much done in one single day, again, it shows a part of my life I value and she recognizes that, my dogs.    It reminded me that myself included, can do alot more every day to recognize what is important in each other’s lives.IMG_2352

As the holidays come to me these last few years of returning from the states, ironies exist.  As I was unpacking items from Mexico I have had in storage, I literally came across a card I did not know existed from my Mom, sent to me in Mexico, and out falls 15.00 sent to me back in 2011.  It reminded me amounts do not carry as much value as the thoughts behind them, sometimes $1.00 can be much more valuable than $10.00 when not necessarily put into a savings situation and put into one that means something tied to you as a person.

Coming across the same time the memory of dialogue between family and moving to a new country, an article fell out from Lynn Schofer:

when I was leaving Delaware for Mexico.  I was stunned, I thought the thoughtfulness she put into writing about me was such a gracious gift.  Truth be known, any successes and excitement I had while at Seaford – was due to the colleagues and students that believed in dreams of projects that could build up our community even better- not because of me.  Hence, an article fell out right behind that on img_2351.jpgKate (formerly Baltz), one of the first students that I encountered moving to Delaware that showed me that the excitement of education can be countered with a good laugh that makes the day even better…

It was perhaps one of the nicest articles I ever read and completely was unaware of this article at the time.  In reading this article over, the plans you make are always subject to change without you being aware of the implications in the future.  The best thing that occurred in my life was Mexico, and I did not realize it at first.  When I left Mexico, yes, it was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but also, I realized, how much more I could love Delaware thanks to the people and aspects of Mexico I decided to keep to change the way I viewed a Delaware I was coming back to. Gifts that you find, remember, and share – better than any gifts that can be physically given, except for those gifts that share a piece of who you are as a person.

I certainly was not aware of a student like Indya being a vibrant reminder of what life should be about, the hype and energy and less of the measures to judge someone’s success.  I certainly had no idea my life would lead me to Mexico City, surrounded in an aura of stereotypes but so loaded with beauty and meaning that only those that choose to jump into experiences such as this realize how much it can change their lives- there is so much that many choose not to experience to be “safe”.  I have realized taking the risks that you would not normally take have a result- they increase your open-mindendess of the world, relationships, and your life, for the better.  Afraid of letting go is such a dilemma in individual’s lives, classrooms, day to day management of economic, politics, the world, nature and more – yet when done, it changes everything and puts all involved on  a life the never knew existed.  To not do the very things you have thought about but not acted on does indeed create ghosts of what could have been, similar to areas you will never grow or move away from- and that often caused individuals to remain “stuck” in a routine or belief that they never see another side of.  However, seeing many sides to experiences changes people, changes lives, and changes a life itself. 

This holiday I cannot say enough the thanks I realize from the lives that have changed me for the better through moving, being involved in other countries that have embraced my differences and not chided me as some parts of our world like to do, met students that changed my mind about what the future can be and will be, and in general, the reality that life does not have to be a climb or race for better and more, but a continual schedule of gathering with those individuals in your life that celebrate the successes you experience, because of everyone involved.  THAT is a real reason to celebrate the season among each other, over things, schedules, money, divisive views and so much more that blocks the opportunity to see how much we have to be grateful for, as well as how much we can help others be grateful for so much more. I think of this so much now when we say the words “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays” – not a bad place to be!

The onslaught of having an amazing Cross Country Team that struggles, yet comes back together, a Student Government that deals with alot of social dilemmas and decisions and also comes back stronger to fight another day and represent the best of what school can provide, colleagues that sympathize and work through the hardest of times alongside you, family that always remember you thick and thin, friends from this country and others – despite the miles – still remain as they did when last together – this is what a holiday is about 🙂

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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