Ebenezer Scrooge and Thanksgiving
Tis the season! A season replete with decorations of red, white, green. Artificial trees are already on prominent display in malls, shopping centers, and stores. Carols are on selected stations heralding the season. Yes, it’s Christmas.
Except for one small problem … we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge; however, I am a product of an earlier time. A time when there was a preferred holiday protocol. It ran something like this, “Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.” Stores typically didn’t put up or out Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.
Why so little love for Thanksgiving, the holiday or at the least an apparent diminishment of holiday respect? Rather than answer that question (though I have my suspicions), I will leave it as a rhetorical, self-assessment for the reader.
I want to take a moment and assume the role as apologist for Thanksgiving on a personal level. I am thankful for a district and the many educators who focus daily on the needs of our students, the education of these students, and the success of all students.
I am thankful for so many committed and essential other school and district employees—bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians—who make sure our students are safe, well fed, and “live” in a clean environment. These unheralded workers are the very lifeblood of our district. Yesterday, I had the privilege to go to all schools and taste the turkey and dressing at each school. The food yesterday was as good as anyone would find anywhere. Our bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians are among the best anywhere.
I am thankful for colleagues and school and district administrators who work to promote learning in the face of long odds and endless paperwork. These committed professionals lead by serving others and focusing on how schools can be a microcosm of a better, more loving world. This was most clearly demonstrated on Monday night, November 18, when the Eastside Elementary principal, Tanya Wilson, discussed how the daily Morning Meetings in all classrooms have built a sense of community, respect, and responsibility that I wished could be emulated by adults in Washington, DC.
I am thankful for a board of trustees who truly have the best interest of students at heart. There are many reports around the state where this servant-leader attitude is not the case. We are fortunate in Clinton to have built a teacher supporting, child developing, district enhancing mentality. Although the board and I may see some things differently on occasion, they respect my position and expect me to do those things which will make the district better in all areas. Trust me, we have a strong, fair, and future-focused board.
I am thankful for legislators who take part in district activities and care about Laurens County School District 56. Too often, the General Assembly is seen as the foil for or obstacle to public education; however, such is not the case with us. A week or so ago, we had a Legislator Banquet and all of them attended with their spouses, save for one (who had a Veterans’ Day conflict). These gentlemen truly care about our schools, our communities, and our students. I never feel as though I “bother” or inconvenience them when I call. We are lucky to have Senator Danny Verdin and Representatives Doug Gilliam, Stewart Jones, and Mark Willis in our corner and Laurens County as their primary concern.
I am thankful for a community of caring and supportive parents, businesses, and industries. Although small, the Clinton-Joanna-Mountville-Cross Hill communities are very supportive of the schools and the initiatives we pursue. We are fortunate to have our four main communities work to support each other and build up the southern half of Laurens County. We have great business partners who help with athletics, who work with and in schools, and who provide funds for classrooms.
I am also thankful to the press and newspapers for their willingness to cover our schools as well as they do. Granted, we have dealt with serious, negative issues in the past; however, the press always chose to be firm in their pursuit of information but fair in their presentation of it. The Clinton Chronicle, The Laurens Advertiser, GoLaurens.com, GoClinton.com, WLBG, WPCC, and others see education as a solution to the world’s ills and attempts to cover the many good things we and Laurens 55 are doing. This too is not always the case. I am thankful for supportive and child-friendly journalism.
I am thankful for a loving and supportive wife. Terri is without question the rock to my roll, the yin to my yang, and the peanut butter to my jelly. Over the summer, she had a serious, life-threatening issue. God was truly gracious and provided her a second chance, thanks in large part to the speed and excellence of a concerned and responsive medical staff.
Although Thanksgiving is but a day and constantly squeezed between Halloween and Christmas, I choose to celebrate and live a life of Thanksgiving…so in an unapologetic snatch and switch from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, I will quote Ebenezer Scrooge, “I will honor Thanksgiving in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in [Thanksgiving] Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”
May it be so!
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)