Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Finer Things

I'm part of my building's MTSS committee and we're working to roll out a new system next year.  It's a significant undertaking, a dramatic and systematic change. We meet once a week during lunch.  My principal, an enormously kind and wonderful man, wanted to try to cater to some of our vegetarian and gluten-free committee members and asked for a suggestion for lunch.  I immediately (and enthusiastically) suggested Olive Garden's soup, salad, and breadsticks.

I grew up in a small town.  Maybe I'm sheltered.  Maybe it's changed.  But when I was growing up, Olive Garden was the fancy stuff.  It was an event to go there.  We dressed up.  (Do people dress up for dinner anymore?)  In fact, it was so fancy that my crew and I drove an hour and fifteen minutes to the nearest Olive Garden for our prom dinner.  I get that people might thumb their noses at it now, but the OG will always be fancy to me!  I shared this with my principal.  He thought it was hilarious, but I told him I'd totally dress up if the Olive Garden was involved.

I was excited to wake up this morning.  Lunch was something to look forward to. My student teacher is teaching bell-to-bell, so I have a little time on my hands.  Partly for comedy's sake and partly in an attempt to celebrate the finer things, I began a scavenger hunt for the necessary items to elevate this lunch.  My school used to host a father-daughter tea a million years ago. Knowing this, I headed to the Family and Consumer Science room to procure a place-setting of the china they used and a crystal goblet.  I set the table, replete with a Roosevelt blue tablecloth.  It. was. wonderful.

This sounds silly.  I know.  But part of what makes something meaningful is the way in which people show up for it.  We laughed about my enthusiasm for the meal.  I don't need things to be complicated. I can appreciate the finer things in each day.  Today was a treat.  And I showed up for it in a way that demonstrated my appreciation. We laughed and we were productive and, by extension of my enthusiasm, my principal felt valued, as he should.

As I left our working lunch, I thought about the finer things.  They are there every day, should we choose to recognize them.  My AP Literature students just finished Heart of Darkness.  It too is one of the finer things in my day -- an acquired taste perhaps, but finer nonetheless.  As we talked today and I watched understanding and connection pass over my students' faces, as they scribbled notes to themselves in the margins of their books, as brows furrowed and unfurrowed, as heads nodded, I celebrated that this too is a finer thing.  When I read aloud "The Hollow Men,"  I was cognizant of the gift of those words.  As students spilled out the door, thinking about what they'd write about, it was a finer thing.

There is no shortage of finer things.  We just have to show up for them, to see them, and to appreciate them.  And today was bountiful.  What a truly fine thing.

3 comments:

  1. This is lovely. Your thoughts flow into one another so well in these blog posts. I've been thinking about team mentality a lot lately, and this is a fantastic reminder that kindness can come in a variety of forms :)

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  2. I understand your Olive Garden sentiments and also remember when OG warranted "getting dressed." And the luncheon sounds divine and important. We English teachers recognize the fine role food plays in much of literature. Our family and consumer science students used to learn to set and "design" a table; they'd invite teachers to dine, and they'd serve us. We'd evaluate the place setting, the food, and the service. I loved those lessons.

    I likely won't teach "Heart of Darkness" this year in AP Lit, but my students are finishing up "As I Lay Dying' and "Song of Solomon." Much of our discussion w/ Faulkner has centered on the finer points of his language, and I couldn't agree more w/ you about showing up for the fine language that is our gift.

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  3. We should take time to make the ordinary extraordinary. Loved how you elevated lunch for all. Sounds like a lovely day all around.

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