The Season of Gratitude

As family holidays go, I have always loved Thanksgiving best of all. Thanksgiving always invokes memories of my maternal grandparents’ home in Newark, N.J., where my mother and her siblings were raised. There are memories of running up and down the stairs of that big three-story house with my brothers and cousins in tow. There are sensory memories of the smell of my grandmother’s gravy mixing with biscuits and mashed turnips – a food I only saw once a year. There are memories of sitting at a grand table, with seventeen people gathered around it, and of toasts and prayers said at that table. It was pure magic – unadulterated joy – as I recall it all. We always had our own separate turkey at home as well. My mother had a knack for magic with leftover turkey: open-faced turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy, creamed turkey over rice, and, when the meat was all gone, turkey soup. My brothers and I would fight over the wishbone, always. I have come up with my own treat to make with turkey leftovers (a sort of Bûche de Thanksgiving): phyllo dough rolled up in a spiral with layers of turkey, cranberry, shredded cheese and stuffing. I think my children prefer the leftover version to the turkey day version, but there you have it. As I look back over my first autumn here at Tuxedo Park School, I feel the beginnings of a new set of memories and traditions emerging and a sense of enormous gratitude on so many levels. Here are just a few of the reasons I feel grateful, in the form of an invocation:

* I feel grateful for a school that values character and service to others as much as it values academics, arts, and athletics.

* I feel grateful for a professional and committed faculty and staff who work tirelessly on behalf of children.

* I feel grateful for a dedicated board of trustees whose committees are buzzing with activity in service to the school.

* I feel grateful for a committed and involved parent community who value education so completely that they make sacrifices in other parts of their lives in order to have their children at this school.

* I feel grateful to the legions of community members who preceded us here and still manage to stay connected to TPS over time and distance because this school was an important part of their family’s history.

* I feel grateful for a school where students are helping people in our own neighborhood in addition to helping people in other parts of the world.

* I feel grateful to be a part of a school community where we actively value gratitude.

So, this Thanksgiving as you connect with family, traveling far or staying close by, no matter what you eat or how many days of leftovers are required to finish it, remember to be grateful for the miracles (big and small) in your life – the gifts we count before we’re told we must worry about holiday presents. Reflect on the things in your life for which you are grateful, and share them with your children. Reach into your own past to help create new stories and traditions for the next generation. Make a commitment to some family time that is distraction- and electronic-free, silencing your devices to just be in the moment with your children. Create memories they will always remember.

With gratitude, Happy Thanksgiving!

About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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