Monday, January 16, 2006

And a Mary Christmas to All

Mom and Dad sent me a package last week. Carefully packed in a cardboard shipping box filled with foam peanuts to protect the contents, I found a grocery-sized bag filled with labeled file for each year of school. I was vaguely aware that the files existed; Dad occasionally sends a few papers or reports or worksheets from my childhood to my own children when they are of a similar age. Now, Dad was cleaning out the basement and wanted to give me the choice to keep or to toss the contents.

Thirteen years of public schooling condensed into one grocery bag. I'm still working my way through the files, and I'm fascinated. So much I remember so clearly, and so much I have forgotten.

I am delighted to have a research paper from high school on "South Africa". I remember "signing up for countries" in Mr. Rohlfing's World History class, and being disappointed because someone had beaten me to "France". Twenty-some pages from a time when spellcheck programs were not generally available and typing errors were painstakingly rubbed out with a brush-ended eraser and maps were drawn and colored by hand. I appear to have gone that extra mile; each map has a fancy hand-drawn and colored border.

I was feeling pretty good about that paper, and the 74 out of a possible 75 points until Isaac looked through it and found a mistake on one of my maps. I'd like to say I could blame it on ever-changing world politics, but I can't. The map is wrong.

The Christmas card at the top of this post is a relic from 1st grade. It's reassuring to know that catching on to homophones (or rather, NOT catching on) is relatively timeless. I'm impressed today with that manger. I still draw mangers pretty much the same way I did when I was 6. Mary (or "Merry", if you will) most obviously had the hand of God upon her. I've had three babies. I certainly didn't feel as "merry" as she appears, just a few hours after having given birth. "Merry" looks as if she is up to offering hors d'oeuvres and wine to the shepherds. I remember now, looking at the picture, the excitement I felt when I figured out how to draw "swaddling clothes". So excited, evidently, that I graced one of the Wise Men with the same costume as the Babe. Inside the card, a rustic stable is lit by a spidery star and a fully decorated Christmas tree. The second Wise Man there bears an uncanny resemblance to Santa. Christmas has always been religious AND secular to me.

Christmas, and the days leading up to it, have always been my favorite time of year. Thanks, Dad and Mom, for extending Christmas 2005 just a little bit longer.


Veronica in Aus said...

LOL - I love the wise man in swaddling clothes ;)

I have a pile of files similar to yours and whenever I come across them looking for something else, I invariably spend way too much time flicking through them and reminiscing :)

newsgirl said...

oh such fun! I still regret the day when I was 19 or so and thought 'I don't need these grade 4 social studies books'... I can remember a bit of what was in all that stuff and wish I still had it... although, it makes it hard to throw out university notes... those don't have my poor attempts at art though so I don't know what the problem is... LOL

agent713 said...

Jean, you have a wonderful way with words. I have a box of stuff like this to go through and decide what will make it into an album. My "Bears" report from Grade 3? My "Salmon" report from Grade 4, for which I drew a title page that I am STILL proud of? Whatever I go with I hope I can journal it as well as you have to capture the memories they hold.

Kaye said...

There are so many things that I tossed in the trash as I was moving out of my parents' home. I so wish I had kept more and thrown away less. How wonderful that you have these items from your childhood!

Love your drawing, by the way. It's hard to believe that Joseph could hold up his rather large body on such tiny little legs! LOL!