December 12th, 2016

Christmas

Christmas was getting close; just 13 days away, Mr. Dooley, the community center music teacher and choral director, came into the crafts class at the center and asked Miss Sue if he could speak to the class about a Christmas activity at the center.

Miss Sue nodded and Mr. Dooley said, ” The “Can Do” Kids Chorus was just asked to sing for the Seniors Christmas Party on December 23rd at 4 pm. I have permission slips for you to take home with you today and have a parent sign. Is there anyone here who cannot sing for the seniors on the 23rd”?

Hector raised his hand and said, “I’m in a basketball game that afternoon. The team needs me.” Kathy raised her hand and shared,”My cousin is coming to visit for Christmas. I need to be home to greet her when she comes.”

Jay raised his hand and said,” My parents and I are flying home to be with our family on the reservation for Christmas. Our plane leaves at 4 pm.”

Mr. Dooley said, “I can understand that Jay cannot change his plans, but Hector, I need to ask if this is a league game or just for fun”? Hector answered, “Just for fun.” Mr. Dooley smiled and reminded him, saying, “Hector, your grandma is in charge of the party. What will she tell her friends when you are not there to sing for her and the other seniors”? Hector gulped and said, “I’ll be there, Mr. Dooley. The team will just have to get along without me. I’ve got to be there for my grandma.”  “Good choice,” answered Mr. Dooley.

Before Mr. Dooley had a chance to ask her, Kathy announced that she would call her cousin and explain about the Christmas party for the seniors and that she would see her when she got home.

Kathy added, “The seniors are mostly all our grandmas. They are always there for us. We need to be there for them this Christmas.”

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December 6th, 2016

christmas presentsThe “Can Dos” were all sitting around at their classroom tables, during recess, talking about what they hoped to be getting for Christmas.

Miss Pat couldn’t help but overhear their conversations. She decided to make a history lesson out of celebrating Christmas in colonial days. She thought the class would be surprised to learn a few things about the giving and getting of presents.

Miss Pat called the class to order and said she had a story to tell them. Since the “Can Dos” love her stories, they sat quietly and listened as she began her story.

“A long time ago, before our country was a country, the first settlers celebrated Christmas very differently than we celebrate today. In some of the colonies, where our original settlers lived, they didn’t celebrate Christmas at all! In the colonies where Christmas was celebrated it was a holiday that lasted 12 days, with a big party on the last day called 12th night. The parties were mostly for adults.

Children got to participate in special meals that were eaten during the holiday time but they usually didn’t receive Christmas gifts.

In the southern part of our country, colonists made giving presents a part of the Christmas celebration when they gave gifts to servants and others who worked for them. In some southern colonies children also received gifts. It wasn’t like today though. Each child got only one gift. It was usually something practical or considered special treat that a child would enjoy. It was rarely a large gift.

As the years went on and more immigrants from different countries came to our country they brought with them their Christmas customs. One such custom that we all love is displaying and decorating  a Christmas tree. Immigrants from Germany made this custom popular in our country. Gift giving, especially gifting children, became more popular and children began to receive more than one gift in celebration of Christmas.”

The “Can Dos” all sat quietly, looking at Miss Pat, then Hector raised his hand and, when called on, said,”Boy I’m glad I didn’t live in colonial days”!

The class all agreed, thinking how lucky they are to be living now and not when kids didn’t get gifts on Christmas!

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November 30th, 2016

ChristmasDuring recess, Miss Pat overheard the “Can Dos” talking about what they want for Christmas.

When recess was over, Miss Pat said, “I overheard some of your conversation about what you all want for Christmas, but I didn’t hear any thing about what you are giving anyone at Christmas. Let’s talk about the spirit of Christmas for a few minutes. Can anyone tell me what the spirit of Christmas is?”

Yundi raised his hand and said, “It’s about giving, not getting.” The class all looked at him funny. Hector said,”That can’t be right!  It’s about kids getting stuff they want.” Kathy shook her head slowly and said, “I think it is about giving. My grandma starts talking to us in August about doing chores to earn money to buy presents for my mom and dad.” Miss Pat smiled and said,” Yundi and Kathy are right. It is about giving, that is why you get presents because the people who love you want to give to you.”

Miss Pat asked, “Who wants to share with the class what they are giving to their parents for Christmas”?

Nellie raised her hand and said, “Grandpa Dooley took a picture of us and we made a frame for it in crafts class at the community center. We sent it to our mom. She can’t come home for Christmas, cause she’s in the Army, far away.” Everyone was silent for a minute or so. Then Miss Pat said, “That is very thoughtful of you and Willie. I know your mom will be so happy when she gets your gift.”

Bobby raised his hand and said, “I earned enough money from doing chores to buy my mom a fancy key chain and my dad soap on a rope”!

“Those are wonderful gifts children, but some of the best Christmas gifts don’t cost any money at all.

Can anyone think of gifts that don’t cost money, but your parents will love to receive,” asked Miss Pat. Jay raised his hand and said,”I am going to give my parents the gift of a month of sweeping the floor after dinner, emptying the trash and reading a bedtime story to my little brother.” Arthur J smiled and said,”I know what I’m going to give them …a report card with all A’s. They’ve been asking for one of those for a long time!”

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November 22nd, 2016

Pilgrim children were busy.

They did not have as much time as we do today to read or play games. Even young Pilgrim children were needed  to work their parents farms, hunt, fish and participate in the every day life of their community.

Religious activities, school and helping around the house with daily living activities also took a part of their time each week.

During what little free time they had, Pilgrim children were allowed to play games.

They probably played games with each other and their new friends, the Native America children on Thanksgiving Day.  They may have played a game called naughts and crosses, that we know as  tic, tac, toe, and  a game they called draughts that we know as checkers.

Pilgrim children may also played other games such as ball games, shooting marbles and a game similar to hide and seek, called blind man’s bluff.

One thing is for sure…Pilgrim children had to make up games since there were few toys to play with back then and it would be hundred of years before, radio, TV and computers games were invented!

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November 15th, 2016

workCoach is getting ready for the afternoon session at the Recreation Center.

A very sullen Hector drags himself in, head down. “Hey Hector, what’s up, asked Coach Campbell. Are you ready for this afternoon? It’s going to be fun.”

“No Coach, I can’t come today.or any other day for a while,” answered Hector. What? How come, what happened, asked Coach?

“I got my report card yesterday, and my Mom is mad at me, said Hector. She says I have to come home every day right after school until my grades get better.”

Coach looked a Hector, saying “Wow, how bad was the report card?”  Hector answered, “Not that bad; I only failed two classes.”

“Hold on a minute,”said Coach. “You failed two classes. Are you are trying to tell me that failing only two classes isn’t that bad? Really? Hector, you are supposed to pass ALL of your classes. If you don’t, you end up falling behind, and that is no fun at all. I mean, right now you have to skip our afternoon sessions for a while, and you can’t be happy about that, are you?”

Hector looked miserable, as he shook his head no.

Coach asked, “Would your mom be mad at you, if you had passed all your classes? Probably not. Now, why did you fail these classes? What is the problem?”

“Well,” answered Hector, “I failed math because I just don’t get it.”

Coach answered,  “Oh, so I guess that it’s not really your fault then; I mean it is math, and you just can’t do math.  Do you get homework?”

Hector nodded yes.

Coach asked, “Do you do it?”

Hector shook his head no.

Then Coach shook his head, saying, “Do you think that not doing your homework hurt you?”

Yeah, I guess,” answered Hector.

“Hmm, said Coach, “do you remember when we first met?”

Hector nodded yes.

“Do you remember how you couldn’t do any of the exercises? You couldn’t keep up with the other kids. I remember your telling me you just couldn’t do it,” said Coach.

“Oh yeah, and I remember how you got mad at me for saying that, said Hector.

“Of course,” answered Coach, “because you were giving up on yourself. Without even trying to get better, you were looking to give up.  Now, a few years later, can you do all the exercises?”

“You bet I can,” answered Hector. “I didn’t give up, I did the work, everyday, and after a while I started to get better.”

“That’s right, you did the work,” answered Coach. “Now you are one of the best in the room. See how hard work pays off? It takes time, but it does make a difference.

Now, if you did the math work, every night, do you think you would have failed?”

“No way,” said Hector.

“The second class you failed,” asked Coach, “was it history?”

Hector turned red in the face and answered, “I didn’t do my  history homework every night. I tried to catch up, but it was just too much reading and vocabulary.”

Hector, if I asked you to do 10 push-ups a day, could you do it?”

“Easy,” said Hector

Coach asked,”If you skipped a few weeks, would the pushups be harder to do? If you got behind in practicing would you be setting yourself up to fail?”

“Yeah,” said Hector.

Coach asked, “What do I always say about what it takes to be a winner?”

Hector broke into a big grin, saying, “You gotta’ do the hard work now, in order to be ready to win later.”

Coach smiled and said, “That’s right. If you do your homework, then come test time, you are ready to win. Do the work, everyday, and be a winner!”

 

Story By: Ned Campbell, a coach and teacher in Brooklyn, NY

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