My mother loved holidays … all kinds of holidays. And she loved to wish people a happy holiday eve the day before the holiday. “Happy Thanksgiving Eve!” she’d say, or “Happy Valentine’s Eve!”
I wished the Latin Family a Happy Thanksgiving Eve today, and as I did, I smiled at the memory.
It’s rainy and chilly in These Parts, but it had started to snow in the parts of New Jersey where District Y and District Q are. I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance today; almost everyone in every class was there. Many A Ms. X and Mr. Y at Former School (which was already closed for Thanksgiving Eve today) were firmly convinced that “those bad, lazy kids won’t bother to show up” on the day before a holiday. So they would “find stuff for the kids to do,” and then they’d complain that “the ones that really needed to come” stayed home. When I talked with students and parents in Those Days, I heard complaints about “meaningless busy-work” from Ms. X and Mr. Y. “There’s no reason to send Z to school,” More Than One Mom told me, “because Those Teachers won’t be doing anything anyway.”
The expectations at District Q and District Y are very different. Y and her family took a trip a few weeks ago, scheduling it around the “short week” before Fall Break … but Y emailed me to ask what she’d be missing. And almost everybody was there on Thanksgiving Eve. We presented projects: end-of-reporting-term projects in District Q, the first Minor Assessments of the new reporting term in District Y. And we followed, but altered, an old Latin Family tradition from Former School and the School Before That. We took a Latin phrase (“ego grātiās maximās agō,” inquit Caelia) and rearranged the letters to make as many familiar Latin words as we could. But that always happened in pairs or small groups at Former School and the School Before That; today we worked together, and I joined in and found words, too.
It was a good, happy way to spend Thanksgiving Eve.
The Dog and I went for a quick walk after the last shortened class, and we “just happened” to run into my neighbor, O, whom I hadn’t seen in months. We told each other what we’ve each been up to, and she was thrilled to hear about my new arrangement … and we made plans to get together over the holiday weekend, and not to let so much time go by before the next time.
That was a good way to spend Thanksgiving Eve, too.
M, in the advanced District Y branch of the Latin Family, suggested an innovation in the tradition: “Why don’t we also make English words for things we’re thankful for?” he asked. So we did … and that was a good way to spend Thanksgiving Eve, too. There’s much to be grateful for, much to celebrate, as we reach this reflective time of year. And one of the things I’m most thankful for is the joyful learning community that’s formed and strengthened itself at District Q, at District Y, and among the Gifted Homeschoolers.
Almost all of the Gifted Homeschoolers were able to be “there” for our session on Tuesday. A few even changed their travel plans. We transformed a few important Latin verbs together, and then we read the last few stories in Tres Columnae Lectiō IX and almost all of Lectiō X. They had previewed the stories before class, and they’d written “brief Latin stories” about which of the puerī ought to be removed from the ludus and taught at home. “I’m not sure who it is,” I told them, “but I think we need to develop the storyline during the spring class.”
There’s a great blog post here about the spring classes for the Gifted Homeschoolers; I’m excited to think about the adventures we’ll be having and the stories we’ll be creating. And I’m excited to think about the great work that the District Y and District Q Latin Family groups will accomplish, too.
Thanksgiving Eve is a great time to reflect, but it’s also a great time to look forward, gratefully and appreciatively, to the good things that lie ahead. Back when I worked at Former School and the School Before That, I was usually too exhausted to do either on Thanksgiving Eve. It’s hard to reflect or look forward when you don’t feel deep ownership of what you’re doing … and in my days at Former School and the School Before That, for all my talk of joyful learning communities and ownership of the process, I didn’t feel much ownership of my time or my work. Various Powers That Be issued mandates and directives, and I spent my time and effort either complying or appearing to comply. We did build a joyful learning community, and we did build meaningful things together … but it was harder, more draining, more tiring work back then than it is now.
And on Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful … grateful for the good that came from that hard, draining work in its time, but even more grateful for the new work, the new time, and the new forms of joyful learning community. I wonder what other insights and discoveries await in the days and weeks to come!