My first teaching job was in a sixth grade class that had, well, let’s say an interesting collection of personalities. Great kids, full of life and energy, sometimes in excess. When Christmas season came about, they kept asking when I was going to get a tree up in the classroom.
Being my first year of teaching and having coaching responsibilities, I was spending a lot of time in preparation and grading and I kept putting it off. “Soon, I’ll get a tree soon.”
Well my soon wasn’t their soon. One morning one of my characters brought in a branch, obviously broken off a pine tree on the way to school, that was to be our tree. Someone had a mayonnaise jar in their locker which served as the water supply and holder. They wanted to
begin decorating immediately. My deal with them was this, you are welcome to put anything reasonable on the branch, but it had to be made during free time.
Every open moment from that day until our holiday break, students spent time adorning the tree. There were chains of green and red paper, ornaments of every shape, size and theme, a cord of paper popcorn, lights cut out of scraps of construction paper and glued on string. The branch became invisible under layers of decorations. To this day, that is one of the most special Christmas trees I can remember.
It’s also about the decisions we make. What would have happened if I would have scolded the boy and taken away the branch – would the bough have grown back on the tree? What if I would have actually provided and decorated a tree? Would they have been so eager about covering something they didn’t “own” and if they weren’t proving a bit of a point to me?
Sometimes the best things are the most unexpected.