'Tis the season for all things that "should be". We should have the perfect family Christmas card mailed out on time, we should exchange the festive treats with our neighbors, we should make sure our own kids get their end-of-semester projects in on time, we should prepare ourselves for our annual performance evaluations in the office. We should make sure each in-law receives a gift that is pleasing. We should move the Elf on the Shelf. It's a long list to get through.
I admit I own many of these "shoulds" of the season. However, in the midst of my list of "shoulds", my holiday checklist includes a set couple of events that allow me to EMBRACE what really matters during this season. Aside from being with my own family, the very top of this list is the annual holiday show that I lead as a music therapist at my home school, Woodland Elementary. We completed our 17th "Mistletoe & Merriment" Tuesday night, a night of informal and celebratory fun on stage with my students, each of whom have some sort of special needs.
We receive lots of "ahhhhs" and "ooohs" when people are told about our very own home-grown show that showcases our special ed students. And it really is fantastic, watching them shine and own their very own spotlight. But an underlying magic exists, and is something that many might not even recognize: our kids at Woodland have "buddies" from typical classrooms that pair up with them for the show. They practice with them twice a week for 2 months, and they truly begin to EMBRACE each other. The differences fade away, and the kid-to-kid friendships are left remaining. These buddies learn so much about each other, music as their connecting glue. Then they walk away, more in tune and aware that there are other people in the world that have to work sometimes much harder than they do, just to do ordinary tasks. In my heart, I believe that these little buddies will grow up to be kinder, more compassionate citizens, and I am proud that Woodland fosters their development.
I challenge you this season to take on your list of "shoulds" at whatever level is comfortable for you, yet to fast-forward to things you can embrace. Kindness and acceptance matters, and it starts early on. It's much more important than getting your Christmas card out on time.
Written by Missy Worden