There were so many times this week that I wanted to wrangle the thoughts running wild through my head and horse whisper them into a composition and take a sleigh ride through the winter wonderland of my holiday brain. But my creative reserves were spent on arguing with cookie recipes (' How can you call yourself The Best Damn Sugar Cookie Ever? You taste like a mouthful of sand!); and then returning to the recipe with my tail between my legs after realizing that I had muffed up. ('But, seriously, how can one keep count of how many cups of flour is being dumped into the bowl when there is a toddler looming over all of the ingredients, with her fountain of drool threatening to defile the dough- while she stands on tiptoes on the edge of a chair- which shouldn't even be called a chair anymore because it really only has 3 working legs?'). Then the rotten plague befell our house- heating the children into mewling, whimpering stupors- grasping with each swallow at their swollen, scratchy throats. Realizing that the miserable events kept growing instead of shrinking like a paper chain counting down to Christmas-I became more Grinch-y and cursed the blasted holiday of joy, peace, and blah, blah, blah, and life's not fair.
And then the Universe spoke and said, 'Oh, no! Things are so out of balance here. I'm so sorry. I was trying to follow the Best Damn Sugar Cookie Ever recipe. I will set things right again.' And she gave a gift, a very unexpected gift, a gift that will keep on giving for the next 20 years and beyond to the students of the Buffalo Public School district.The Universe said, 'Say Yes to Education will partner with business leaders to provide free college tuition to any SUNY school to any child who has had continuous enrollment (at least four years) in the Buffalo Public Schools. And, Say Yes to Education will adopt a neighborhood (a zip code) in one of the most impoverished areas of the city- to help provide healthcare, guidance, resources, a partnership with families to ensure children in those neighborhoods are receiving the supports they need to work toward the goal of becoming college bound.' If ever there was a glimmer of light during uncertain times, this must be it. Of course my children benefit from this tuition guarantee as they all attend Buffalo Public Schools; but, without this gift, we still would have found, through what ever means necessary, a way to ensure their passage to college. The thing that strikes me the most, that which I am most grateful for in this wonderful news announcement, is that someone finally realized that it truly takes a village to raise a district of children. They realized that the problems with our schools do not lie in a lack of educational opportunities or lack of qualified teachers; but, the problem lies in a lack of support for the large population of students whose families are socioeconomically burdened; and, the problem hides in a lack of compassion or willingness to try to understand- on the part of those who would rather criticize another human's circumstance then take a risk in shifting the perspective. We have witnessed over the years, students from our disadvantaged neighborhoods arriving in Pre-K without even a spark of motivation and hope in their eyes because somewhere along the generations before them it had burnt out. I am hopeful that this promise made by Say Yes to Education and the business leaders who have signed on as partners will light the spark in children who for so many years have had that ray extinguished. I hope that this incentive will galvanize others who have talents and resources to become more involved.
And then, if that was not enough good news, the universe spoke again- through the words of Family Circle's Executive Editor, Darcy Jacobs. She said, 'Amy, Congratulations! I wanted to personally let you know that your story came in second place in the 2011 Family Circle Fiction Writing Contest.' This was the story, Red Raspberries, that I shared last month (I have since taken it down from the blog) about the boy on the bicycle looking for his lost grandmother. I'll share more details about it all when I learn when it will be published (it will be online). But, I feel so incredibly honored that my work was chosen.
So, now that I've shed my itchy, Grinchyness, I can say that this was truly a good year. Challenging, of course. Exhausting and troubling, at times. But, it has been so filled with support, new perspectives, new opportunities, new enlightenment that I will carry with me into the new year.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and many new and exciting opportunities and a fresh perspective in the New Year.
Our Christmas card (from Snapfish):