“Do not spoil what you have now by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among what you only hoped for.” – Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher
That was yesterday’s quote of the day. My lovely 11th graders were not daunted by the vocabulary, the length, even the loveable mutant of punctuation that is the semicolon. They set themselves to deciphering Epicurus’ meaning with gusto, the day before their four day weekend, giddy from the party they’d had in their previous class, they delved in.
And it struck me, as I moved around the room, watching them chunk phrases to work with and listening to them debate possible interpretations, that they have come to like doing this. By and large, they enjoy the hard work, the puzzle-solving of our daily quotes. And I just felt so grateful.
This quote was a lead-in for short letters of gratitude, and an opening act for the main event: chocolate pumpkin brownie bites. (I didn’t eat any, but I am told they were delicious. No leftovers.) I don’t have much in the way of Thanksgiving tradition, being estranged from my family of origin, and I don’t care for the official history of this holiday, but I believe in being grateful, and expressing that gratitude. I believe that it makes our lives better: happier, fuller, richer. Last year, Boyfriend put me on to daily gratitude journaling. The practice has since fallen off, but the habit of reflecting on what I have to be thankful for has remained, and I find that taking the time to appreciate the good in my life extends those moments and allows me to live in that happiness for longer. This year, I am most thankful for my job and my students, so I wanted to share that feeling with them. I want them to cultivate that same appreciation for the good in their lives, even when it can be hard to find.
This year, for me, it’s easy to know what I am happy about, what I am thankful for. It hasn’t always been so, and I’m thankful for that in itself.
I’m thankful for the school I work in and the amazing students I work with, who I have come to love very dearly, who never cease to impress me, who keep me laughing on a daily basis, who push me to be my best and give me theirs.
I’m thankful for my family of choice, for people who love me and support me and remind me that I have a good, good life.
I’m thankful for all of the hard-working, brilliant, clever, and inspirational teachers I know, through NCTE and the NYC Writing Project, and through my time working in the Bronx. I’m thankful, knowing that we will not go gentle into that good night.
And I’m so, so thankful that people read these posts, and share them, and comment on them. I rebooted this project just to give myself a space to geek out about teaching. At most, I figured my friends would read the posts because they like me. I never dreamed other people – strangers! – would read what I’d written and feel that it spoke to them. Thank you, to everyone who reads this, to everyone who has shared a post from this blog, to everyone who has commented. My heart overflows.
Last but certainly not least, I’m thankful for books! And for great ideas, like thanking authors for books that I love. So I’m on my way to make a pumpkin-pecan pie and send out thank you notes to authors on Twitter. What about you? What are you thankful for this year?
Happy Thanksgiving! xo, Priscilla