Walk through our halls and you are bound to hear Christmas carols and jingle bells ringing. Each child is delighted to decorate the classroom tree, only to have it re-decorated by another classmate of course. Santa, snowmen and elf hats are becoming a common sight here; and special holiday ornaments are being made to grace your trees. Advent calendars are opened, holiday traditions are shared, Christmas cookies are tasted and counting exercises include everything that is Christmas. You can even shave Santa’s beard! The children are on the lookout for reindeer in our woods; and Santa Claus himself will visit the children on the 18th, a 20-year tradition at SWSM! Yes, all things holiday are here, full-blown.
When I think of Christmas at Southwest, besides the paper chains, handmade ornaments and Christmas carols, I also am pleased to know that all of our families have contributed to the food pantry at the Hazel Crest Community Methodist Church for the past thirteen years! It’s a tiny church whose members are aging but who have been delighted to receive our donations each year. This year was our most bountiful yet, and I thank all of you for your generosity. It used to serve 50 families every other week. But numbers have doubled, and the pantry is now open weekly. Ms. Sharon and her nephew Kaleb load it all up and make the delivery. Kaleb was a toddler here when we first adopted this project, and he turns 16 this week. Next year Kaleb will be driving Sharon to the pantry!
Another of our giving opportunities came with our auction this year when we requested that families donate a new toy to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. Through the years, quite a few of our SWSM children have been treated there and continue to be. On Tuesday, Mia and her folks delivered the 70 — yes, you read that right, 70 — toys there. Mia continues to receive wonderful care there and has throughout her young life. Kaleb also continues to receive lifesaving treatment at Lurie’s now and has for the past three years. With all of our healthy children, this is a wonderful way to give a bit of cheer to those children who are encountering some very scary experiences. Thank you to all who have been so generous this year.
My Christmas too is full of tradition. Now with granddaughters, some have been tweaked a bit or a new one added; but the important ones have remained constant. We have been to see Santa and eaten under the Great Tree in the Walnut Room, but I will not tell you how long that tradition has been in place! We have decorated the tree (always with the shredded wheat wreath and decorated pinecone ornaments so lovingly made by my sons as children at SWSM), hung the stockings and sent the cards. Now is the time to bake and wrap all of the goodies I have had stored in the closet for months. I am sure many of you can say the same.
No matter how you celebrate this most beautiful of seasons, may it be Merry and Bright
and may 2019 bring Health and Happiness to you throughout the coming year!