Head of School Blog

Thanksgiving Musings

Jill Singleton
Thanksgiving marks my favorite day of the year. For me, it is a time when the world slows down for much-needed time with family and friends in the comfort of my home, surrounded by the wonderful sounds and smells of the holiday. In that exhale of the long weekend, luxorious space is created for reflecting on the many blessings in my life: my two beautiful children; a wonderful partnership with my husband of 23 years; and our extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents. I also am thankful for our family home full of many happy memories – first steps, bringing Baby Brother home from the hospital, preparations for the first day of school each year, and this August, packing up my older son, Stone, for college. Thanksgiving, too, kicks off the official season of Christmas, a joyful and anticipatory time in which my family and I wait in wonder for the magic of the holiday. No matter how old I get, I will always listen for the sounds of sleigh bells in the night air and the clip clop of reindeer hooves on my roof and I will wonder as I fall asleep what surprises await us in the morning light. My children will break their teenage weekend habit of sleeping until nearly noon and will knock on our bedroom door at first light, and though my husband and I may look at the clock and groan, we both know that we are secretly overjoyed for the early awakening and for what it represents about the sense of belief and wonder that has been firmly established in the boys – something we hope will never leave them but will be passed on to their own children some day.

In classrooms this week, teachers are talking with students about the Thanksgiving holiday and things for which they are thankful. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it’s not surprising that many students have listed “my home” or “my apartment” as their chief blessing. One Kindergarten student wrote that she is most thankful for “my brick home because when it is a rainy day I can stay inside.” Others, several of whom have been displaced as a result of the storm, recognized the blessing of extended family who have taken them in for temporary residence while the storm damage in their home is being repaired. Others, still, gave thanks for their immediate family members. One wrote, “My brother because he makes me laugh!” Another wrote “My Grandparents because they take me to play baseball!” Still another wrote, “My sister because I teach her things.”

Several children gave thanks to God. One wrote he was most grateful for “church because we get to pray to God,” and another wrote that he is thankful for “the sweet food God gave us.” One Nursery child identified her greatest blessing this way: “I am thankful for my good heart that allows me to love everyone…” Although this three-year-old might not be able to verbalize the spiritual underpinnings of this statement, it is such a reminder of our inborn desire to connect with others. This connection allows us to transcend our individual egos to satisy the need to feel part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. At All Saints we use the Lakota expression “Mitakuye Oyasin” to capture the reality that “we are all related.” The African worldview of “ubuntu” holds that “I am what I am because of who we all are.” The great holiday of Thanksgiving reminds us that it is through giving and sharing with others that our personal bounty is multiplied and celebrated. In the wake of Sandy, I know that we are all experiencing a heightened sense of appreciation for each other, our community, and the relationships we enjoy with one another. As one All Saints parent shared in a post-storm email exchange, “By the time we get through giving thanks for all of our blessings at the Thanksgiving table this year, our meal will have gone cold.” Please know that I count each and every one of you and your beautiful children as true blessings in my life, and will surely be giving the humblest of thanks for your membership in our school community before digging in to the holiday feast.

I leave you with this Iroquois Prayer for Thanksgiving…

We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squash, which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind, which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather, He-no, who has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things
for the good of his children.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com
Thanksgiving Musings
Thanksgiving marks my favorite day of the year.  For me, it is a time when the world slows down for much-needed time with family and friends in the comfort of my home, surrounded by the wonderful sounds and smells of the holiday.  In that exhale of the long weekend, luxorious space is created for reflecting on the many blessings in my life: my two beautiful children; a wonderful partnership with my husband of 23 years; and our extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents.  I also am thankful for  our family home full of many happy memories – first steps, bringing Baby Brother home from the hospital, preparations for the first day of school each year, and this August, packing up my older son, Stone, for college.  Thanksgiving, too, kicks off the official season of Christmas, a joyful and anticipatory time in which my family and I wait in wonder for the magic of the holiday. No matter how old I get, I will always listen for the sounds of sleigh bells in the night air and the clip clop of reindeer hooves on my roof and I will wonder as I fall asleep what surprises await us in the morning light.  My children will break their teenage  weekend habit of sleeping until nearly noon and will knock on our bedroom door at first light,  and though my husband and I may look at the clock and groan, we both know that we are secretly overjoyed for the early awakening and for what it represents about the sense of belief and wonder that has been firmly established in the boys – something we hope will never leave them but will be passed on to their own children some day. 
In classrooms this week, teachers are talking with students about the Thanksgiving holiday and things for which they are thankful.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it’s not surprising that many students have listed “my home” or “my apartment” as their chief blessing.  One Kindergarten student wrote that she is most thankful for “my brick home because when it is a rainy day I can stay inside.”  Others, several of whom have been displaced as a result of the storm, recognized the blessing of extended family who have taken them in for temporary residence while the storm damage in their home is being repaired.  Others, still, gave thanks for their immediate family members.  One wrote, “My brother because he makes me laugh!”  Another wrote “My Grandparents because they take me to play baseball!”  Still another wrote, “My sister because I teach her things.” 
Several children gave thanks to God.  One wrote he was most grateful for “church because we get to pray to God,” and another wrote that he is thankful for “the sweet food God gave us.”  One Nursery child identified her greatest blessing this way: “I am thankful for my good heart that allows me to love everyone…” Although this three-year-old might not be able to verbalize the spiritual underpinnings of this statement, it is such a reminder of our inborn desire to connect with others.  This connection allows us to transcend our individual egos to satisy the need to feel part of something bigger and greater than ourselves.  At All Saints we use the Lakota expression “Mitakuye Oyasin” to capture the reality that “we are all related.”  The African worldview of “ubuntu” holds that “I am what I am because of who we all are.” The great holiday of Thanksgiving reminds us that it is through giving and sharing with others that our personal bounty is multiplied and celebrated.  In the wake of Sandy, I know that we are all experiencing a heightened sense of appreciation for each other, our community, and the relationships we enjoy with one another. As one All Saints parent shared in a post-storm email exchange, “By the time we get through giving thanks for all of our blessings at the Thanksgiving table this year, our meal will have gone cold.”  Please know that I count each and every one of you and your beautiful children as true blessings in my life, and will surely be giving the humblest of thanks for your membership in our school community before digging in to the holiday feast. 
I leave you with this Iroquois Prayer for Thanksgiving…
 We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squash, which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind, which, moving the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather, He-no, who has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things
for the good of his children.
 
Questions?  Comments?  Ideas?  I’d love to hear them!  Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com

 
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