For my family and I suspect many of yours there is a great deal to be thankful for this season. In our home we are generally healthy. My husband has wage-work which sustains us. We have the freedom and funds to partake in fulfilling hobbies. We have our two beautiful boys keeping us on our toes everyday – and with the little guy around, many nights too. We have a close-knit family, a diverse extended clan made up of blood kin and a growing amalgamation of friends we love like family. We have food in the cupboard, warmth from our radiators and love. So much love.
I really enjoy Thanksgiving. I like looking forward to time with family. I like most of the food served on Thanksgiving (why must green-beans always be adulterated by canned soup and crunchy non-onion things?). I like that it isn’t steeped in religion and for all intents and purposes even if the actual “Thanksgiving Story” isn’t all of the kindness, feathered headbands and shiny belt-buckled dribble that most of us were raised on – I still have an authentic appreciation for the legacy that has endured since the Pilgrims arrived in the Americas – break bread with others and say thank you.
I love the simplicity of Thanksgiving. Perhaps I can type that with a straight-face because I am not the one doing the lionesses share of the cooking this year (many blessings to my mother-in-law Mary who is). I think of Thanksgiving as the calm before the storm. It is the last tryptophan or tofurky induced nap before the whirlwind of festivities, laughter, schlepping, cocktails, celebrations, more schlepping, exhaustion, mazel tovs, hallelujahs, namastes, the solstice, special for 2012 the end of the world according to the Mayans, more schlepping, festivus poles, the first fruit of the harvest celebration, (did I mention schlepping?) and Auld Lang Synes- if I forgot to list something you love in December, feel free to call me out below.
I have much gratitude for all that my advocacy work has brought to my life: a deep pool of wonderful, hardworking and dedicated colleagues and friends, innumerable opportunities to travel our nation and to learn from some of the masters of change in our society and access to policy makers that have led to some enlightening personal and professional revelations. Most especially in my work I recognize that am blessed to spend time in so many of our Milwaukee Public Schools. Feeling the energy of the students gaining skills and confidence as their minds expand day after day is a delight. Watching our masterful teachers – lecture and guide, provide and percolate growth in the children everyday is as energizing as it is exhausting. For the children who come to school to learn and teach as much as for the staff who come to school to teach and learn; I am filled with thanks for I know there is much work ahead but the future still looks bright.
In my advocacy role I spend much of my time communicating with people about what isn’t working. I spend even more of my time trying to help people understand how to better serve children or better yet for them to understand that the children are the ones with the answers. I ask people to question what we have always done and to be willing to replace it with what needs to be done to lead us to where we want to be. I routinely ask people to embrace the idea that moving forward together, contrary to soundbites and posturing, actually makes us all stronger. On Thanksgiving this year I hope you would consider one way in your life that working together has made your life more rich or fulfilling, if not just plain easier.
Thank you for reading my handful of posts over the past year. Thank you for understanding that sometimes I am so busy advocating (and being a mom and don’t ever ask me to give up Skeeball League once per week) that I don’t have time to thoughtfully blog. Thank you for caring about children and the schools. I promise to keep working and fighting… if you promise to join me, I will be thankful for your spirited energy as well.
Now rest up…
I am just oneMKEmom but together we are a force.
Reflecting on the past year and all of the things I am thankful for – a particular 15 minutes stand out… Nearly one year ago I had a transformation of mindset. I was in Washington DC attending the National Opportunity to Learn conference and as the long weekend came to close our final speaker was Dr. Bernard LaFayette. I found myself sitting there so sad to see how very little had changed in our schools and much of what has changed has been morphed by society since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. I was inspired by his passion and willingness to commit to the causes of equal education and opportunity for all races and I was simultaniously so grateful for all of the work that has already been done – especially when thinking about how very far we have yet to go. At the end of that day, I was there standing, swaying, choking back tears (OK I was totally crying my heart out) as I held hands in a circle of public education advocates from coast to coast singing “We Shall Overcome” led by Dr. LaFayette himself and from that moment on I have really believed it.