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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Everyday Santa Claus

A few weeks ago my student Reedson walked into class one morning with a hot commodity in tow. After dropping his backpack at his desk he turned to me and said, "Good morning, teacher. Look what I have for snack today!" He was holding an entire package of chocolate wafers. I had an immediate flashback to sitting on the playground curb at Lake Forest Elementary School's after school daycare and smiling from ear to ear when my coffee filter was filled with those same vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry wafers. "Yum, that's going to be a great snack!" Beaming, Reedson put the package in his bag for safekeeping.

Morning recess rolled around and Reedson called three of his friends over to his desk. I heard them whispering and then Reedson zipped his backpack shut again. "We'll have them at afternoon recess," he said as they ran outside to play.

Afternoon rolled around and I was filling homework folders at my desk while a few girls ate and another erased the chalkboard. Reedson walked in. After surveying the scene he pulled out his chocolate wafers and made the rounds. "Here you go. Would you like one?" he smiled as he went from classmate to classmate. A chorus of "thank you!" followed his every step. After he gave a wafer to all the girls and me, he shuffled outside to share with his other classmates. I leaned against the doorway enjoying a little taste of my childhood and watched as Reedson distributed his wafers to every single 1st grade classmate before enjoying one himself.

At 6 years old, hospitality and sharing are already etched deeply on my students' hearts.

I sat down at the table outside our classroom and pondered what the situation would have looked like had I been Reedson. It took me less than 10 seconds to realize it - there's no way I would have shared with everyone! Six-year-old Emily would have given a few to her closest friends, maybe, and kept the rest for herself. A snack as good as chocolate wafers? Hello, more for me!

But not Reedson. No one even had the opportunity to ask if they could have one; he opened the package and what was his immediate action? Let me share these with my friends. Let me give one to everyone. Let me pass these wafers out like it's the most important job I'll do all day.

That's just it. Hospitality and sharing ARE the most important jobs we all do on any day. The sharing of food, a text or a phone call, letting that annoying car merge in front of you, paying for someone else's coffee. Hospitality and sharing lead to conversation, conversation to acceptance, acceptance to love.

On that day in March, Santa traded in his red suit for a school uniform and his bag of gifts for a package of wafers. Reedson showed me what it's like to be an everyday Santa Claus. With every chocolate wafer he shared he gave out a message, too: you matter to me, I want to give this to you, I want us to both enjoy this. Acceptance, sharing, and joy in a simple gesture.

I want to be an everyday Santa Claus. On any given day I want to sprinkle a little bit of positivity and a pinch of joy and throw a whole bucketful of kindness into this world. If you pass me on the side of the road those are the things I want you to be drenched in.

What about you? What do you want to pinch, sprinkle, or pour into the world today? We're all a little different and your recipe won't be the same as mine. Thank goodness the world needs all sorts of people and every single thing we have to offer: humor, love, music, peace, poetry, acceptance, patience, art, a listening ear, gratitude, courage, honesty. The list could go on and on.

Whatever you have, I hope you can give it today. I hope you remember that none of us are perfect, but we can all do our best with whatever we're given. I hope you can see the important, vital role you play in this world. I hope you can say "amen" at the end of the day and see the small moments where you tried your best to shake, sprinkle, and drench the world in whatever is important to you.

I hope Reedson and his wafers will remind you to be an everyday Santa Claus every month of the year.

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