HUNT COLUMN: ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

By Cathy Hunt
Troup County School Board Chairwoman

With another pandemic semester in the books, although maybe not quite as stressful as fall 2020, staff and students are enjoying some much deserved time off this week. I always wanted to have as many days off before Christmas as possible, not only for practical purposes such as shopping and wrapping but also to soak up the magic of the season, so I think it’s great that our folks have a whole week off prior to the big day.

There were many years, however, when I set myself up for school stress to continue through the holidays, by lugging home a big bag of tests and term papers to deal with the week after Christmas. It was a price I was willing to pay so that I could revel in the joys of Advent instead of working myself into exhaustion. Besides, the after-Christmas-day letdown was real, so why not just wallow in it by spending hours each day with a red pen in my hand?

Of course, this was when the semester ended in mid-January, so I had no real grading deadlines in the days leading up to the holidays. An adjusted calendar changed all that, so I was made to wrap up all my grades with a bow before school let out. This was wonderful for enjoying my time off to the max, but the weeks of December leading up to the break became more frantic than usual, so there was a trade-off.

In any case, two weeks off at Christmas is a crucial physical resting and spiritual re-charging time for teachers and students. Well, most students. For our many at-risk babies, two weeks of being away from the nurturing atmosphere of school may be very difficult when there is a lack of attention, nutrition and safety at home.

TikTok has gotten some bad press recently, but there are real gems to be found there. An elementary music teacher named Risha Allen came to my attention a couple of days ago. She has thousands of followers, but one of her videos has millions of views. In it, she plays guitar and sings a song to her students which reveals what so many teachers really do worry about during the holidays.

She sings that teachers hope their students get presents, but what they mostly want for them is to “get hugs, love, gentle hands and voices,” for them to “feel safe, warm, and get [their] bellies full.” But, she tells them, if they don’t, “Just hold on and soon you’ll be back here, and we’ll make sure you get all that after New Year. We can’t wait to see you after New Year.”

Those of us whose lives are filled with the blessings denoted above need to remain aware that too many people, and especially vulnerable children, have lives devoid of them. In this special season of giving, may we give consideration to what we can do to bless others, as well as to what teachers do unselfishly for our children, week after week, year after year.Thank you, teachers. Merry Christmas to all.