The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the tag “Christmas”

That’s What The Holidays Are All About…

Two things: (1) I don’t write a mommy blog, but this is about mommy stuff and (2) I’m sorry I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I miss it.  With the semester and my other work, time just got away from me.

Anyway, it’s the winter holiday season and you know what that means!  That’s right:

1) Grades are in and I’ve been completely burned out for a week or so, reeling from the exhaustion and brain fatigue that comes from grading finals, dealing with grade grubbers, and hoping my class would make for next semester. It didn’t :-(.

2) I’m doing the “politically correct” dance and waiting for repercussions for saying “Merry Christmas” (which is the holiday I celebrate…although more in a secular than in a religious way) versus “Happy Generic Winter Holidays If You Celebrate Any of Them.”

and

3) My sweet 5-year-old son is completely and totally out of control with excitement.

Just a few of our festive decorations.

Just a few of our festive decorations.

It’s a joy to be able to see his face light up as brightly as our Griswald-esque Christmas decorations. It is also a joy to be able to wield the “Santa’s going to put coal in your stocking” threat over his head. It’s a refreshing change from the threat of:

  • Time out
  • Spankings (yes, I know, barbaric, horrible, call DFACS, leave snide comments on this post if you must)
  • Taking away one or more toys
  • Forced child labor
  • Making him live in the backyard
  • Making him live in Siberia

or the truly cruel punishment of…gosh, I don’t even know if I should say it in a public forum…

  • Making him play with his toys in his room by himself.

We are truly evil, no? At least to our little extrovert. Being alone is the worst punishment he can think of. Although we have recently discovered another powerful threat: Telling his teacher, Mrs. T, that he’s been making bad choices. She’s a lovely woman, so I’m not sure what he’s afraid of, but I got this hint from him: “If you tell her, she’ll make me eat lunch by myself.” Ah.

He’s an interesting cat. A little super-extrovert athlete being raised by older introverted geeks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

In the spirit of the holidays, please allow me to share my favorite Boy-ism (so far) from my son this season: “When are we going to have hot chocolate? ‘Cause that’s what Christmas is all about.”

The reason for the season...according to my 5 year old.

The reason for the season…according to my 5 year old.

So have some hot chocolate and Happy Holidays!

Carpe hot chocolate!

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Ding Dong, The Semester is (Almost) Dead

When I was a meeting planner (many moons ago), I was affected by a phenomenon I call “post meeting blues.”  After much anticipation leading up to the meeting and the chaos of the on-site experience (which invariably involved excitement like presenters not showing up, catering snafus, and 28-hour work days), there was a “let down” feeling after the meeting was over.  First came the relief, then the inexplicable down-in-the-dumps-depression.

Me with two of my favorite students (yes, professors have favorites...shhhh)

Me with two of my favorite students (yes, professors have favorites…shhhh)

Now that I’m a college professor, I find the end of the semester follows a similar pattern.  As I type this, I have one grade yet to come in (c’mon, kid, turn it in, turn it in, turn it in).  Once it’s in, I will feel jubilation as I submit  final grades to the great and powerful Oz.  I will dance and sing (where no one can see or hear me) and feel the knots in every one of my muscles relax.  Then I will walk that fine line between relaxation and boredom.

Then it happens — boom! — post-semester depression.  I start feeling aimless (even though my “aim” should be prepping for the next semester).  I even start missing my students.  They’re all at home and not missing school at all, of course.  But I miss their faces (or more accurately, the tops of their heads, which is all I can see some days as they look down at their phones instead of at me while I facilitate class).  I miss their witty repartee, the words from the ones who make valuable contributions to class, and even their “deer in the headlights” facial expressions when they are called on or busted for looking at Facebook instead of their notes.

So this semester, I have a plan.  And I’m not ashamed to share it.  This year, I’m planning a one day vacation from my brain.  The plan is simple.  On one day (after  the great and powerful Oz has released me from his grasp), I’m going to leave my pajamas on all day, plop my already generously sized derriere on the sofa at home, and watch something mindless on TV…all day.  Just for one day.  I’m thinking sappy Christmas movies on Lifetime or the Hallmark channels.  Other props for the day include the gallon tin of Garrett popcorn (Chicago Mix) that I plan to order for myself, a 2-liter bottle of root beer, and three cats to keep me warm.

One of the three cats

One of the three cats

So there.  That’s my plan for a one-day vacation from my brain.  Before my toddler son gets out of daycare for 12 days (heaven help me), before the official Christmas festivities start, before I start panicking over how much I have to do to get ready for next semester.  One day that’s mine.  All mine.

Carpe brain rest.  And Happy Holidays.

‘Tis the Season…for Giving. Or Not.

The holiday season is just around the corner.  Me, I celebrate Christmas, but I include in the holiday season Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Festivus and whatever other holidays people celebrate around this time of year (don’t crucify me for not knowing all the pertinent holidays!  I consulted the Interfaith Calendar but am sure it is far from complete.)

Our Christmas treet

Our Christmas tree

Which makes me think about the concept of giving.  To whom do you give?  How much?  When?  I’m at that fortunate point in my life that I don’t really need anything.  [I mean, other than See’s Candies and Garrett popcorn.  Duh.]

Anyway, I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving (which could have been the topic of a separate post on a blog called something like Dysfunctional Family Follies).  The topic of Christmas came up and my sister-in-law and I both sincerely expressed the desire to (a) not receive any more “stuff” and (b) not have to feel compelled to go buy other people stuff.  Sometimes it just isn’t fun, you know?  You check people off your list and buy them “stuff” that they don’t need…a la George Carlin (a censored version of his comedy routine video about “Stuff”)–just to get it over with.

This is just the stuff we have to decorate for Christmas season.  We put stuff in, on, and under this stuff.  What a holiday!

This is just the stuff we have to decorate for Christmas season. We put stuff in, on, and under this stuff. What a holiday!

So what about at work?  A friend and colleague mentioned she is “required” to participate in the Secret Santa (or Dirty Santa or whatever) activity at work.  And she’s Jewish.  It’s not a big deal to her, but it could be to someone.  It may not be the $10-15 price tag.  Maybe it’s the time to find such a gift.  Or the nature of the holiday.  Or maybe someone just doesn’t like their co-workers!  [Note to co-workers: This is a general statement, not directed at you.  I am looking forward to participating!  And appreciate that it was made “optional.”]  And some people are “invited” (which everyone knows means “expected”) to contribute to Christmas presents or gift cards for admins, housekeepers, even bosses!  Which sticks in my craw a bit.

So I finally stumbled on something work-related that I feel comfortable contributing to.  Unbeknownst to me, there’s a program called REACH Alabama at the university which asks people to support those college students (and future college students) who have no one – foster kids, orphans, etc.  From contributing gift cards to help them with expenses to hosting them in your home for a meal or a holiday, there are many ways to give to this group of kids.  Now this I can get behind.  This makes sense.  I know a young woman in college who has no family.  Not even an estranged freaky dysfunctional aunt and uncle (though I have some I’d be happy to share).  I can’t imagine not having anyone who will call you on Christmas or (fill in your holiday here).

Sure, the goal of the program is to get foster kids into college and degreed.  The statistics on how many attend college and how many finish are staggering.  But I’m grateful to have found it.  It will make me feel good to do something for these kids.  I will consciously not give to the “invitations to give” that I can’t philosophically support.  But I will contribute to REACH Alabama.  This is what Christmas is about.  I’ve been so blessed and so fortunate in my life.  It’s time to pay it forward.

Carpe holiday spirit!

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